How To Host A Guest

In being a guest at many places – people’s houses and hotels mostly,  I have more often than not run into situations where it was just plain awkward to stay there. I can only think of a few instances where the stay was absolutely hassle-free.

When in someone’s house as a guest, this is more understandable; in a hotel room, it is neither understandable or acceptable.

If you will ever host a guest, whether in your private house or in your lodging business, here are a few things you might want to keep in mind as you prepare for them.

Have A Welcoming “Setup”

If a guest walks into your house and there’s “Stuff” everywhere, without a single place to sit down, your guest’s first impression will be “I’m not welcome here,” and want to turn around and leave.

If it’s your private house, don’t worry. It doesn’t have to look like a showpiece for Architectural Digest. It’s okay for it to look “lived in.” But the clutter should be under control, the main living area ready as a place in which a guest can sit and relax.

Remember, when  a guest arrives at your place, it’s very likely after a long day of travel, and who knows what hassles they encountered enroute.

Usually the first thing someone wants to do at the end of a day of travel is just relax and say “aaaah.”  Maybe have some conversation, a cold drink or cup of coffee or tea – make it easy for them to do so.

Provide Horizontal Space

It the room where the guest will be staying, be sure to provide plenty of horizontal space. Empty space – dressertops, nightstands, tables, suitcase racks, etc.

Guests bring their own stuff. They need to have a place to put it.

I once stayed in a friend’s house where they had two or three places in the room where I could have put stuff … but every possible space was taken up with knick-knacks, gew-gaws, decorations, and who-knows-what. I wound up having to put my suitcase on the floor and work out of it there.

In all my travels, I’ve wound up having to work out of a suitcase on the floor nearly half the time.

In a private residence, this is understandable, even if uncomfortable. In a hotel. It’s neither understandable nor acceptable.

If it’s possible that more than one person will stay there, you must consider the possibility that each person will have a suitcase. Therefore, it would be best to have a place for two or more suitcases.

Include a space beside each side of the bed, because many people need during-the-night access to several things. Medical equipment (such as a CPAP machine), medicines, books, eyeglasses, cell phone … the list of things people need to keep beside the bed for easy access during the night is long.

Electrical Outlets

In today’s electronic-based society, there’s no question that people staying overnight somewhere need to plug in their gadgets.

I am always astounded and dismayed by hotel rooms that have very few electrical outlets, and those few always taken by hotel-supplied gadgets. Frequently these few outlets are located behind heavy and hard-to-move furniture. To me, this is unacceptable in a hotel room.

Some people need electrical outlets for a medical device, such as a CPAP machine, which needs to be beside the bed. This means it is best to have electrical outlets available near the bedside.

Bedside Electrical Outlets
Bedside Electrical Outlets

Sometimes, furniture will cover a wall outlet, making it hard to get to. Sometimes you want more than just the standard two plugs. You can solve both of these issues by purchasing a $5 multi-outlet strip from a local hardware store and mounting it in an accessible location beside the bed, as in the picture to the right.

In any case, if you plan to host guests in your house or hotel, you should be certain there are enough electrical outlets for them to use.


I have been in some places where the lighting was so dim it seemed as though the lights were off even when they were on. Don’t be a cheapskate. Give your guests full-room illumination bright enough so they can see what they’re doing when they dig in their suitcases.

There should also be bedside lamps beside both sides of the bed, if your bed sleeps two.  Put decently bright bulbs in these lamps, at least 75w incandescent or equivalent brightness halogen or fluorescent or LED bulbs.


Because people like to read before going to sleep. I have been in hotel rooms – more than half of all I’ve stayed in, if you can believe it – where they had a bedside lamp beside only one side of the bed.

What, they think only one person of a couple is going to want to read?  No, more like they’re just trying to save money.

Closet Space

Guests may or may not bring clothes they need to hang up; but since you can’t predict this, you should make at least some closet space available for them.

It’s probably best if the closet is not totally stuffed with other things being stored there, and that the guest has easy access to the free closet rod space. This means don’t have tons of junk stored on the floor.

Towels, Soap, etc.

It is always best to have a fresh bar of soap and clean towels and washcloths available to your guests.

If they will be sharing a bathroom, then these items should be in a prominent location in their bedroom. If they will have the private use of the bathroom, then you can leave these items in there.

Other considerations?

What about other things? Do you know of any things you wished you’d had when you stayed as a guest somewhere? If so, leave me a note in the comment section below.

Perhaps if hotels see this, they’ll start to become more user-friendly.


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