Thursday, December 2, 2010

Setting up The Perfect Guest Room

It's the time of year when guest rooms tend to get the most use. (Unless of course you live ocean front, in which case I suspect company comes calling during the summer.) Guest rooms can tend to be somewhat forgotten spaces, particularly if they are not called upon to serve some other function when they aren't being used by visitors. Over the years of playing both guest and host, I've come up with a few tips to make guests feel right at home.

1. Invest in quality bedding. A good set of high-thread count sheets is essential. Thanks to stores like TJ Maxx, Tuesday Morning, and Marshall's, great sheets and bedding can be had at minimal cost. Have a variety of pillows. Some people (like myself) prefer a stack of big, fluffy ones, while others (like my better half) are only comfortable on flatter pillows. Have an extra blanket on hand in the closet for people who are more cold natured.

2. Give guests access to a well-stocked bathroom. Of course, ideally, each guest room should have a private bath, but that's a luxury few of us can afford. However, having  a stack of good towels and washcloths, a variety of personal hygiene items (I keep a stash of hotel-sized products on hand), a hairdryer, extra toilet tissue, and a handful of unused toothbrushes, razors, and the like, will make your guest's stay all the more pleasant.

3. Guests won't typically need much closet space, but do free up an area where they can hang a few days worth of clothing. (A set of nice wood hangers is a good touch.) A small ironing board and iron in the closet will allow them to touch up their clothes without having to hunt down your laundry room in their robe.

4. One thing I try to do is to give the guest room a personal touch in some way. I frequently swap around my framed photos when guests come--placing a photo from your previous visit together, an old family picture, etc. will make them feel at home. New magazines on a topic you know they enjoy is another good idea.

5. Setting up a small "goody basket" for your guests is another thoughtful idea. An early-rising guest or one who yearns for a midnight snack may not want to head for the kitchen when the rest of the house is asleep--so a few bottles of water, some fresh fruit, or cookies will make them feel at home.

6. Install good drapes or blinds that will control the light. It won't matter  how comfortable the bed is if the sun wakes them up too early!

7. If your guests will be on their own at all, a list of local "must-sees", recommended restaurants, and other activities they may want to do on their own will be helpful. All the better if you have a portable GPS device they can use to help them find them!

8. Consider typing up a "how-to" list that you can keep in a guest room nightstand. This might include instructions on how to access your home's wi-fi network (all the better if you have an old laptop or a "netbook" they can use to keep up with emails, etc. while they visit), how to work the television, etc.

9. Having an alarm clock, a few books (short stories are great!), and even a couple of nice robes for company is a great way to make sure their stay is a memorable one.