Preparing A Welcoming Guest Room

Preparing A Welcoming Guest Room

When you enter my guest bedroom, you can’t help but want to stay awhile, or move in permanently! I like to think of myself as running a little hotel or inn. As my late father once explained, “Colin, you don’t have people stay in your house unless you treat them like a king or queen.” Like father, like son, I will always go that extra mile. I place myself in my guest’s shoes. Ideally, if I were stay the night at close friend’s house, I’d want to feel welcomed, appreciated, and thoroughly prepared for. I want to be waiting for my houseguest so that when they arrive, they feel right at home- and not as though they are a burden or imposition.  

A few touches you might follow when rolling out the red carpet for houseguests: 

  • All the comforts my guests could want await them in the guest bedroom, including a dimmer switch for the lights, a TV, a DVD player, some interesting reading material (my favorite books, a couple of current magazines), and a bowl of delicious dates, candy, or fresh fruit. You could place a chocolate on the pillow, but every hotel has done that already!
  • If you’re having guests take over a room that’s usually occupied, or if they’re sleeping in a den, make space for them and clean up the area around the bed, particularly the bedside table. Empty out one or two drawers and supply extra wooden hangers for the closet.
  • Whatever kind of bed you have, whether it’s a single, double, king, queen, pull-out couch or a futon, it should look and feel as inviting ad as luscious as possible. 
  • Make the bed up with a crisp clean and color-coordinated linens. If your guest is arriving in the winter, tuck an extra blanket or comforter in the closet and let him or her know it’s there, or leave it folded at the foot of the bed.
  • Provide a luggage rack, a bench, or a large bathroom towel where guests can set down their suitcases. I do whatever I can to make sure the luggage never directly touches the clean blanket or linens on the bed. This is the same suitcase or duffel that has just been removed from the hold of an airplane, hurled onto a luggage carousel, dragged through the airport on a cart, and manhandled into the trunk of a taxi cab or limousine. By the time it gets to the bedroom it’s pretty filthy!
  • The bedside table should have all necessities within reach. If there’s a telephone on the bedside, turn the ringer to the off position so that if a call comes in early in the morning, it won’t disturb your sleeping guests. Keep a notepad and pen beside the telephone- for guests to jot down a name or a number- as well as a working alarm clock, a water carafe and a glass on a tray, with a fragrant candle burning when they arrive.
  • A well-informed guest is a happy guest. For a very special touch, if you have the time, place on the bed or on the bedside table welcome letter/folio along with information regarding their visit, attractions of interest in the neighborhood, important phone numbers, and a map. 
  • Make an extra set of house keys for your guests so they can come and go as they please. Make sure they know the security procedures for your house. 
  • Another intimate touch: I will find a photograph of my guest and me, preferably one taken during our last visit together. I will place the photo in a frame and leave it next to the bed or on the sideboard, or often I’ll gift wrap it as a welcome present for him or her. 
  • Few things appeal to guests more than a generous-sized closet, with load of hanging spaces. If you can’t fully empty out the closet of personal belongings, then make it a point to move all your possessions over to one side. By doing this, you let your guests know that they are not an imposition and that you want them to be as comfortable as you can possibly make them. This has nothing to do with the square footage you give them. It is all about making them feel relaxed and welcome. 
  • For added comfort, provide a comfortable chair in their room or the area where they’ll be staying.
  • A really chic touch my houseguests always appreciate: Just after dessert, while they are enjoying the last of the wine, I excuse myself while everyone is still chatting and head out to the guest room to fold down the bed cover. I fill the carafe with chilled water, light a candle, and leave a bowl of fresh tangerines or dates by the bed. It takes literally a few minutes of my time, but the results make them feel like a rock star and my guest room five-star! 

--Colin Cowie