Be the Perfect Host
With holidays well and truly here, you may well be preparing for any number of visitors. Whether you’re expecting one guest or a dozen, a little bit of planning and forward thinking can make it something to be enjoyed rather than endured (by both you and your guests). Try to think of everything from your guests’ point of view. When you stay away from home, what do you need? What would you expect from a good host? What would make your stay extra special? What have been the best experiences you’ve had in luxury resorts and hotels around the world? Obviously, your house is not a hotel, it’s a home away from home, and you need to make your guests feel like part of the family. However, there are several things we can all learn from the hotel industry.
What’s the first thing you do when you get to a hotel room? You kick off your shoes, help yourself to a coffee and have a look through the welcome pack so that you know how everything works. A good host will try to make sure their guests can be as self-sufficient as they want to be. Nobody likes constantly having to ask. A good welcome pack could include information such as:
Essential in the 21st century. The majority of us can no longer function without access to WiFi and most of us love to share photos of our destination so that all our friends can see how much fun we’re having. If your guests have children, make sure you have set up an appropriate level of parental control, just in case.
Instructions for Household Equipment
How does your home cinema work? Which remote for which TV? How to use the coffee machine (and where to find the supplies). Alarm codes if guests may come and go when you are not in. Think of all the things in your house a guest might need to use and, if they are not self-explanatory, include information in your pack.
Is there a particular way of shutting or opening the front door? Does the toilet only flush if you press the handle twice (if so, you might consider calling a plumber). If it takes a while for the water to run hot in the guest suite, advise them to start running the water as soon as they go into the bathroom. Are there parking regulations outside that guests need to be aware of? You may have got used to your house’s quirks so you need to think as an outsider.
Research your Town
If this is someone’s first visit to your house and your area, what do you think they might like to know? Think like a tourist and gather as much information as you can. Your local tourist information office is probably the best place to start, or you could search online and print out anything interesting or useful. Even though your guests may have SatNav, if they are likely to go anywhere on foot, a user-friendly map is always a good idea.
No one wants to think that they are putting you out so make sure you have plenty of everything they might need.
Fresh Towels and Bed Linens
The important word here is fresh. Even if you know your linens are clean and spotless, if they have been sitting around in the back of a drawer since the last time anyone stayed, just put everything through on a quick wash or, if you don’t have time, pop it all in the tumble dryer with a nicely-scented dryer sheet. Again, think like a hotel.
People forget things, it’s a fact of life. And if friends are flying over for a short visit, they may only bring hand luggage. Whether your guests use them or not, everyone appreciates the thought that goes into a supply of toiletries, emergency supplies and personal items. Think of the things we all need on a daily basis and put together a basket or two with luxury hair and shower products, disposable razors, a small pack of painkillers, personal hygiene products, spare toothbrushes, toothpaste and mouthwash. The majority of these are available in small, travel sizes so splash out and go for the most extravagant you can buy. Make your guests feel well and truly pampered.
Do not assume that your guests have the same routine and body clock as you. You may prefer to eat late in the evening, whereas they are ravenous half way through the afternoon. A good host should always provide bottled water and a few well-chosen snacks, tailored to their guests. If space allows, you should also consider a kettle and/or coffee machine, glasses, cups and the relevant supplies. The best guest rooms also have a mini-fridge to keep water and milk (or a bottle of champagne) at the perfect temperature.
Your guests are here to rest and relax, not to be herded to the table with the rest of the family at 6 am. Stock up on simple breakfast items such as cereals, bagels, pastries, eggs, etc. and encourage guests to help themselves when they are ready. Other meals may be taken together at more specific times but breakfast should be a more relaxed occasion.
We all travel with gadgets and gizmos so make things easier for visitors by providing a charging dock in their room. If this is not an option, at least make sure your guest room has plenty of available sockets for phones, laptops, tablets, etc. As we’ve said before, people forget things so it is always a good idea to have at least a USB charger and a couple of standard cables for Apple and Android gadgets.
Space to Unpack
Who likes to live out of a suitcase? Designer clothes never look their best when creased or crumpled. Make sure there is a space to hang clothes and drawer space for your guests to use. Remember, this is your guest suite, not an overflow space for your winter clothes and junk. If space allows, you should also think of including a compact ironing board and iron.
Poor communication can ruin a visit, leading to hurt feelings and un-met expectations. Most guests are not mind readers and neither are you so you need to tell your guests what you have in mind for their stay and ask them what they would like to do. Let them know what time dinner will be. Explain that you have to work during the day but would love to catch up in the evening, leaving them free to please themselves during the day. Your guests may already know exactly how they want the visit to run, or they may leave it all up to you. Be prepared for either.
Before the Visit
Contact guests beforehand to ask basic questions. What time will they arrive? Length of stay? The purpose of their visit? Do they want to just relax, catch up and spend as much time as possible with you? Is this to be a shopping marathon, a food fest, a chance to meet with other friends and family, or a business trip? Would they prefer to eat in with you, eat out on their own, or eat out with you? This is also the time to ask about dietary requirements if you don’t already know. There’s nothing worse than preparing a lovely meal, or stocking up on cereals, bread and pastries, only to find that someone can’t eat any of it.
During the Visit
Ask your friends whether there is anything else they need? Ask them what they would like to do (once they’ve looked through your fun-filled information pack, obviously). You may have a draft itinerary in your head but talk things through with them to make sure you’re all on the same page. You don’t need to plan every minute of their stay before they arrive but if you have a few ideas, it makes a great starting point.
A Luxury Bedroom
Your guest room should be calm, exquisite, and, above all, comfortable. Even budget hotel chains are now investing in gorgeous, comfortable, luxury beds, realising that a good night’s sleep is the most important part of any stay. You need to do the same. A stunning luxury bed with the best quality mattress should always be your starting point. And the bigger the better. The more space each person has in a bed, the better they are likely to sleep. See our guide to a Good Night’s Sleep for advice to help you and your guests sleep like a baby.
Unless you have several rooms free, many guest rooms need to flexible enough to accommodate couples, singles and families. The best way to achieve this is with a zip and link bed, which can be separated to create twin beds or joined to make a spacious, UK Superking size bed. There is also the option of single beds with a rollaway for extra guests. The combination you choose will depend very much on the space you have available. If you are having trouble working out the best configuration, call us to talk it through.
Once you’ve chosen your luxury bed, it’s time to build the rest of the room around it. As we said above, your guests need a wardrobe and chest of drawers for clothes and shoes. Every luxury bed also needs a set of beautiful bedside tables and, if space allows, a dressing table or desk and chairs. A full length mirror is also a must – and something often overlooked by hosts. After all, who wants to go out for the evening only having seen what their head and shoulders look like? And don’t forget about lighting. We may not be talking grand chandeliers but designer lighting can create the perfect ambience, transforming any room from drab to dramatic.
So, with your luxury bedroom furniture all sorted, now is the time to bring it all together with luscious linens, wallcoverings, curtains and accessories. This is when many people struggle to create the look they are longing for. If this is you, simply call our interior design team. We take your thoughts and ideas, add our extensive experience and a touch of passion and flair to create the luxury bedroom your friends and family deserve. Just call or pop into our Chelsea showroom and we would be delighted to help.
If you live somewhere vibrant (and noisy), or you have young children who might disturb your guests, either during the night or early in the morning, invest in some really good ear plugs for each guest. They may be able to sleep through anything but if they are light sleepers, they will thank you for them.
For the best night’s sleep, your room should be as dark as possible. If you have lights outside, make sure your curtains have heavyweight blackout linings, and leave some soft eye masks for people to use.
Follow all this advice and you will be the perfect host, offering so much more than just a roof over someone’s head. Guests will feel welcome, valued and pampered. You do realise, however, that word will get round and you will be inundated with friends and family who will never want to leave.