You’ll probably be entertaining some overnight guests this Christmas — and will want to make them feel as comfortable as possible when they visit your home.
I worked in the hospitality industry for more than a decade before becoming an etiquette consultant. It was while working for the opulent Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach that I learned a thing or two about pampering and making guests feel welcome.
It’s important to design your guest room with the same love and care as you would your own bedroom.
Here’s how to turn your guest room into a five-star getaway — for your loved ones or friends who are coming to visit.
1.) Provide a good night’s sleep.
A comfortable guest room starts with an exceptional bed. As you know, a bed can make the difference between a happy guest and a grumpy guest. Dress your bed with luxurious sheets. I prefer sateen sheets because they are 100-percent cotton with a high thread count and lustrous sheen. Like Egyptian cotton, they are breathable and suitable for any season. Always wash the sheets the day before your guests’ arrival so they smell fresh and clean. Then add a spritz of lavender linen spray to the bedding for a special touch.
A light blanket and comforter combination is also a great way to make your guests feel warm and cozy while they sleep.
Pamper your guests with goose-down pillows — but also keep a couple of foam pillows on hand for those who may be allergic to feathers.
2.) Provide a writing desk.
Part of the vacation experience is sitting down and putting pen to paper to share special memories with friends back home. A small desk can function as a vanity as well as a writing station. Provide some pens, local postcards, and a few decorative stamps. A freestanding mirror will allow your guests to touch up without having to do so in the bathroom.
3.) Add bedside lighting.
Vacations are the perfect time to relax and read or catch up on email. Task lighting allows your guest to relax or work without disturbing the rest of the house.
4.) Supply some reading material.
Place a small stack of books and magazines on the nightstand for a quick read. A nice assortment might include magazines on health, cooking, decorating — and even a weekly magazine of celebrity and human-interest stories. Put a daily devotional book in the room if you know your guests will enjoy it. If your guests have never been to the area before, provide a local map and brochures on things to see and do while they are visiting.
5.) Provide a sitting area.
If space permits, provide a comfy chair in the corner of the guest room and drape it with a soft throw so your guest can curl up and read or just take a nap without messing up the bed.
“I also place a few of my favorite dark chocolates in a crystal bowl by the bed,” says one host. “After all, who can resist chocolate?”
6.) Add fresh flowers.
A room comes alive when you add fresh flowers. Creating an arrangement doesn’t have to be a chore. Ellie Lowry of Mount Dora, Florida, likes to collect a few cuttings from her garden and put them in a pretty vase and place them either in the guest bathroom or in the guest bedroom. “Flowers add a pop of color to a room and make guests smile,” she says.
7.) Make it personal.
Nancy Holder of Williamsburg, Virginia, always welcomes her guests with a handwritten note that reads, “Welcome to our home. I’m glad you’re here!” “I also place a few of my favorite dark chocolates in a crystal bowl by the bed,” she says. “After all, who can resist chocolate?”
8.) Keep luggage off the floor.
A luggage rack provides a place for your guests to place their luggage when they arrive. Buy one that is relatively inexpensive and can be folded up and kept in the closet until it is needed. Speaking of closets — place a soft terry cloth robe or a waffle texture robe and some disposable slippers in the closet in case your guest wants to join you for breakfast without having to get fully dressed. You can usually pick up a complimentary pair of slippers in the guest room whenever you travel and stay in nice hotels.
9.) Light the way.
Your home may be unfamiliar territory, plus you don’t want your guests to trip and fall if they have to get up in the middle of the night. Put a small night-light in the bedroom and guest bathroom to light the way.
10.) Stock the necessities.
Everyone forgets to pack at least one thing when they travel. Stock the bathroom with a few travel-size essentials, including shampoo and conditioner, shower cap, toothpaste and toothbrush. Guests are also most likely dehydrated after a long trip, especially if they arrive by plane. Place a couple of bottled waters on the dresser or nightstand to quench their thirst.
11.) Don’t forget the clock.
Your guests may have a full day of activities planned or need to catch an early morning flight, so put an alarm clock beside the bed. Try to avoid those with annoying tick-tock sounds!
You don’t have to overhaul your house to make your guests feel welcome. It’s the little things that will be remembered. The trick is to anticipate your guests’ needs most of all.
Jacqueline Whitmore is an international etiquette expert, a bestselling author, and the founder of The Protocol School of Palm Beach.