Tis the season for… guests! That means airing out the linens, dusting all the corners and, in general, getting those guest rooms ready. I used to travel a lot for my career. Thankfully, I was offered many rooms in private homes so that I could by-pass the expense of hotels. But, Boy! Have I learned a thing or two about guest rooms! Don’t get me wrong. I have deeply appreciated every single home in which I was lucky enough to stay. But…I also learned a great deal about quite a few different guest rooms. Many were opulent and many were modest, with most falling somewhere in between. All had at least one of these unfortunate mis-steps in common.
Your guests have traveled, often long distances, so they are harried and tired. They are probably in high anxiety mode just because of said travel. They no doubt have had a full day of driving, flying, work, visiting or sight seeing. They are tired! Happy to see you, yes. But tired none the less. Even with little money, it is in your power to make their stay a fabulous memory. Read on to learn how to make your guests feel like pampered royalty. (and no, the ocean view is not mandatory, but it sure would be nice. 🙂 )
First and foremost in my mind is that all bed and bath linens should be freshly washed.You may think that no one has slept in the room for a decade so the linens do not have to be washed, but, trust me. Others can smell stale sheets and pillow cases. You may also think, “Well, only my sister has slept there for one night and she made the bed before she left so it doesn’t need to be washed and re-made”. Trust me again. Anything less than a freshly made bed is NOT relaxing. Plus, it makes a person feel as if, well… as if you didn’t think enough of her or him to freshen the bed. Once the room is spiffed up, give it a quick spritz of Febreze “fresh linen” or one of your favorite scents. It matters.
If you use an air mattress for your guests and you have never slept on one yourself, know this. That air gets COLD when the temperatures drop. Many people put a single sheet on the bed with covers on top. I end up taking the covers, folding them in half and laying them under the sheet leaving one measly little, folded cover for the top. So, to dress an air mattress for comfort, simply fold a blanket or comforter or two and put it down as the first layer. If you can, put a heated mattress cover on top of the blankets. THEN, put a bottom sheet on top of that. Then lay down another top sheet and as many covers as the ambient temperature dictates. If you can afford it, a heated mattress pad on top of the first layer of covers will make the bed feel like heaven. You can buy those at most large discount department stores and they are pretty inexpensive. You can often find them on sale during the January/ February white sales, so stock up then and you will be ready for your next batch of guests.
And for cryin’ out loud! Sweep away all of the cobwebs and dust the ceiling fan too. No one wants to sleep under a hail of dangling dust bunnies.
Place a clean set of wash cloths, hand and bath towels on the end of the bed or in the guest bath. Guests are often shy about using the hung towels in the wash room. Especially the embroidered ones that are perfectly arranged with ribbons tying them to the towel bar. It is unnerving to see nothing but fancy towels and not know if they are for guest use or what. Seriously folks. Supply your guests with their own towels. Really, they will feel that you care about them and are happy to see them
On top of the stack of bath linens or in the powder room, place a little hospitality tray. Include travel sized items like a toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoo and conditioner, hand cream and a shower cap in case they forgot theirs.
Speaking of Febreze, don’t forget to prop that can of air freshener in the bath-room in plain sight. Also, stock the bathroom with plenty of TP. There is almost nothing worse than being in a strangers home, stuck on the toilet with just a teeny piece of paper left on the roll. Be Kind!
A bedside table is MANDATORY. People need a place to put their “stuff”. For me, I need a place for my glasses and my phone that I use as my morning alarm. I also read before bed to “wind down” so I need a place to put my book and a glass or bottle of drinking water. Others have different needs, so PLEASE provide a bedside table for your guests. Even if you have to go out to the garage and drum up a wooden crate to set on end, it is better than nothing. A chair or stool placed bedside will do as well. (But before you grab the shabby chic wooden crate from the garage, try Habitat for Humanity’s RESTORE. They have fabulously low prices on furniture often donated from hotels.)
Speaking of reading before bed, it is also mandatory to provide a bedside lamp or wall mount that is of the appropriate height for reading, crocheting, doing crosswords, answering e-mails or whatever else people like to do to wind down after a full day of activities. There is nothing worse than having to sit alone and quietly in semi-darkness from a tiny little accent light when what you really, really want to do is read so that you can go back to sleep.
Also, keep the tables/ dresser tops rather clear. The plant and family pictures in the photo above are nice to look at, but move them somewhere else when guests arrive. They need a place to put their stuff! Multiple decorative pillows on the bed are pretty too, but they don’t want to have to take a lot of things off the bed and table and wonder where to stash it all. Show your guests where the extra sleep pillows are. I keep mine on the top shelf of the guest closet. Do put a little packet of tissues on the table with a trash can stashed nearby.
If you have a closet in the room, clear a space for your guest’s clothing. If you do not have any closet room, then get one of those over the door hooks so that they might hang their clothing. Provide hangers and, if you can, designate a little area for their suitcase. When you are showing them their temporary room and bath accommodations, tell your guests that you can have the ironing board and iron out in a jiff if they require it or stash it right in the guest room closet if there is ample space..
Do provide a little tray of snacks and a bottle of drinking water with a clean glass. It doesn’t have to be a huge tray- maybe a piece of chocolate or cookies and something salty like a little pack of peanut butter crackers or nuts. This is not mandatory, of course, but it will go a long way toward making your guests feel special.
OH! And if your office/computer set up is in the guest room, PLEASE forgo working in there until your guests are out of the room! I swear to you, one person worked on his computer late into the night while I was trying to get some sleep for an early class. I don’t think that he was being an ass because he was an otherwise nice person. I’m going to say that he was just clueless, but jeez! I know, I can hear some of you now. “But he HAD to work in his office.” If that sounds like you, then I beg of you. Do NOT offer your guest room to an unsuspecting guest.
A couple of other things to consider:
- at least one mirror in the room, preferably a full length mirror.
- TV with remote
- pen and paper
- universal charger
- hooks in the bathroom so that they can hang their clothes or bath robe
- a night light in both the bedroom and the bathroom
- a phone book. I know- antiquated, right? But some people, especially some elderly guests, still require them.
Finally, if you have an alarm system in the house, LET YOUR GUESTS KNOW! I once stayed in a beautiful home where the lovely homeowners neglected to tell me about the system. I got up in the middle of the night to go out to my car for my forgotten lap-top and set off the ear-splitting alarm as soon as I opened the front door. The whole family came running frantically downstairs. Needless to say, my face was beet red.
Your Guests Will Thank You For Taking These Simple Steps!