Thursday, July 14, 2016

Advice for Guest Bedrooms and Hosting Guests

After commenting myself on this WaPo Live Chat, I decided to better organize my thoughts and write this post based on my recent experience staying with family out-of-state. This advice is particularly applicable if some of your houseguests will be children.
  1. Air Mattresses - If you have one, make sure they it does not have a slow leak by testing it over the course of 3+ days before your guests arrive. No one wants to wake up on top of a deflated air mattress.
  2. Wardrobes and Dressers - If you have one in your guests' quarters, make sure it is completely empty. If it's full, it just takes up space where your guests are going to want to put their luggage.
  3. Infants and Sleep - Have your guests bring their pack-and-play from home, or have one on hand yourself. They are relatively inexpensive and easily fold up for travel or when not in use.
  4. Kids and Sleep - Consider investing in a cot that can be folded up when not in use. Alternatively, if the child is age five or under, you could use an inexpensive crib mattress that can be placed on the floor, and stowed under a bed when not in use. As a third option, consider a twin bed or a twin air mattress. A fourth option would be pull-out chair or sofa, though that would be the most expensive of these options.
  5. Fans - Especially if you do not have a ceiling fan, consider placing a fan in the room. Guests like being able to control the temperature of their room, and some also enjoy the white noise and / or air flow that a fan can provide.
  6. Hooks - Consider installing hooks that your guests can hang their bath towels (or wet swimsuits) on. Install the hooks in either in the bedroom or in the guests' bedroom, depending on where you have space. These hooks could also be useful for winter coats and sweaters when the weather changes.
  7. Simple, Layered Bedding - Opinions will vary widely on this, but personally I prefer doing only a fitted sheet (no top sheet), one to two bed pillows per guest (no throw pillows and no bed skirt), a freshly laundered duvet (as opposed to a comforter or quilt), and a folded blanket at the foot of the bed (or stowed nearby). The absence of a top sheet and throw pillows will make it easier for your guests to easily make their bed in the morning (cramped spaces always look better with a freshly made bed). The absence of a bed skirt will make it easier to spot guests’ items that have inadvertently rolled under the bed. Further, both throw pillows and a bed skirt can collect dust which may irritate some guests' allergies. A duvet is easily machine-washable (unlike a comforter or quilt which may be too large or heavy to launder at home, and bulky to store when not in use). The addition of a blanket will help guests if using a duvet is too warm or not warm enough (depending on if the blanket is used instead of, or in addition to, the duvet).
  8. Room-Darkening Curtains - Consider installing light-blocking curtains or blinds - some guests may not care, but others cannot sleep with mere sheers on the windows.
  9. Waste Basket - Provide a small, freshly-emptied waste basket.
  10. Limit Occasional-Use Furniture - Unless you have a lot of space in your guest bedroom, do not provide a large-scale reading chair because guests can always read elsewhere (e.g.: in bed, in your living room, or in a smaller chair). Also, try to choose smaller-scale furniture for your guest bedroom which will allow for maximum flexibility in terms of how guests use your space. For example, if you are going to include a reading chair, consider choosing one without arms. Note that all too often, a guest bedroom can become a dumping ground for furniture that should be discarded (or placed in storage), rather than merely relocated / relegated to the guest bedroom. Personally, I’d prefer a small bench (to sit on when putting on my shoes) or a folding luggage stand (to place my suitcase upon) over having a chair in a guest bedroom.
  11. Toiletries - Consider providing travel-sized toiletries for your guests. Just the basics will do, and just one of each product is sufficient (shampoo, conditioner, bar soap, and a sealed travel-sized pack of Kleenex). Also, you may want to provide a couple of other new items too in case your guests forget to pack theirs (a fresh toothbrush and razor are sufficient).
  12. Electronics - Consider providing a power strip (and / or a USB outlet) near the bed, and a sign with the Wi-Fi network name and password information (blank templates are available online for free, or you could make your own).
  13. Water - Leave some bottled water (two bottles is sufficient) on the nightstand - it’s much hard to inadvertently knock over than a carafe.
  14. A Small Refrigerator - If an only if you have sufficient money and space to purchase and keep one, consider having a small fridge in the room that can be plugged in whenever you plan to have guests. It’s great to have for storing anything your guests need to keep cold: milk (for kids or babies), orange juice for the morning, or leftovers.
In addition to the items above, I wanted to add a note regarding communicating your feelings to your guests. If you have a problem with something your guests are doing (lifestyle, etiquette, habits, or anything else), consider bringing it up as soon as possible - waiting until the end of the trip gives your guests no time to adjust their behavior, nor does it provide them any time to make alternative lodging arrangements for the duration of their trip if the behavior cannot be helped. Any group of people living together is going to eventually hit bumps in the road, and stewing about it helps no one. Keep your tone constructive rather than adversarial, and keep your comments as focused to the specific issue(s) at hand.