Preparing for Overnight Guests: What They Really Want

It’s summer and everyone is on the move! Chances are, you might have some house guests. Let’s talk about preparing for overnight guests, and what they really want and need from their host.

Tales of the traveler

It’s no secret that I am a travel snob. Although I do not share much travel information on my blog, the last 30 years I have roamed the globe with my hubby and have been in hotel room, after hotel room. I know, after walking into that room within minutes, there are a few things in a new place that I go right to.

So when I am preparing for overnight guests, I am always thinking about those times and the first things I want to get my hands on.

hotel room suite

Today we will cover all those items, along with the extra things that always allow overnight visitors to have an enjoyable stay. Staying with a friend or relative in their home can be fun, and possibly stressful for all. So we will also cover some simple tips to give them that ‘at home feel’ that everyone craves.

The joys of hospitality

Any good host knows that a better time will be had by all with some upfront communication. I don’t know about you, but I’m not a big lover of surprises, although I am always willing to go out of my way for those I love. So as soon as you know that you will be enjoying house guests, touch base with them and go over a few things.

We will discuss those questions to ask guests (even if they are family) in just a bit, but open lines of communication are crucial.

guest room

If you are lucky enough to have a dedicated guest room, much of the work can be done up front, so anytime the need arises you will be ready. If you don’t have a guest bedroom, we will also cover a few things that will go a long way into making them feel welcome.

Peruse these checklists and tweak them as needed for your future guests and how you like to entertain.

A carefully considered guest room

Let’s first talk about that designated space that is always available. If you are at that time of life where you have the extra space, setting up a room where your family and friends can feel comfortable is key.

Even if it is just your kids (and spouse/partner) coming home for a visit. One may have grown up in your home and pretty much know how things go, but the other will not. So even if it is family you are hosting, all these  items needed to help guests feel comfortable and wanted will not be wasted.

The most important feature for your guest room will be a comfortable bed. If you haven’t ever laid on it, take the time and do just that, so you can see how it would be staying in the room you’re offering as a guest.

comfy bed in guest room

While we are focusing on the bed, fresh linens are a must!  It might seem obvious, but clean sheets should be the priority above all. Even if you have been surprised with guests and did not have time to plan, simply hand them a stack of clean sheets and let them make up their own bed. At least they will know that important base is covered. We will chat more about bedding in a bit.

Keep it comfy

At our cottage in Northern Michigan, it feels a bit like summer camp to me. Space is limited, we spend days outside mostly, and all the beds (if not at least the frames) were items we have had for years or thrifted (NOT the mattresses). But for all the beds we have, all were not the most comfy. The last thing anyone wants to do is spend even one single night on a bad mattress. So first things first, we added thick memory foam toppers to any mattresses that weren’t feeling amazing.

twin beds at the summer cottage

These toppers are quite affordable and are easy to purchase from Amazon or other local home stores. Even if your guests won’t enjoy a room of their own, you can easily add one of these toppers to an air mattress and create a comfy pop-up room for guest use. They can be tightly rolled up and easily stored.

What to ask before their visit

Let’s say you have some time to plan ahead to be a gracious host. It’s always a nice touch for your guests to know that you are looking forward to their visit. The best way to  be the ‘hostess with the mostest’ is to find out their preferences. Here are a few inquiries you can make, prior to their visit:

  • Are there any current issues they are having that you are unaware of? Examples might include; accessibility, medical needs, dietary restrictions, and allergies. Knowing these will allow you to plan for easy access to what might be needed beyond the norm.
  • If you plan to provide some delicious meals while they visit, do they have any “absolute hates” on what they won’t eat? What are their loves and preferences?
  • What is their morning routine? Coffee? Do they have a preferred cereal or yogurt?
  • When will they be arriving? Do they have proper directions? Google Maps isn’t always right. Also, establish a ‘Plan B’ incase a flight is delayed or there is traffic that affects your guest’s arrival.
  • How long do they plan to stay? Do not leave this open-ended. This will allow them to have control of their space you have provided, and you to have control over yours. Establish the host time up front!
  • Not everyone loves pets (or kids). Shocking, I know, but find this out before to set boundaries for everyone involved.
  • Discuss schedule expectations and what other plans they have made surrounding their visit. Even if you don’t accompany them on all their outings, you should make each other aware of schedules and desires.
  • If you have any strict house rules (i.e., no shoes, no smoking, no pets) make sure they know this before they come.

Don’t be alarmed

It’s always nice to share things your guests might need to know when staying with you so they won’t be alarmed when things aren’t exactly as they are in their own home.

Point out any motion sensors, alarms, sleepwalkers or late night/early morning arrivals/departures, or other noises you may want to familiarize them with that won’t alarm them in the middle of the night.

​Just like a luxury hotel

These are the things any guest will immediately want to know after settling into their temporary accommodations:

  • wi-fi password – post on a card, sticker on a mirror, or a small framed note.
  • guest bathroom – clean and full of amenities (listed below).
  • lighting – consider overhead lights, reading lights, night lights, and lamp light.
  • temperature in room – chances are they won’t have their own thermostat like a hotel room, so offer a ceiling fan, table fan, space heater, or other portable device as needed for your climate.
  • work space – in the event your guest works remotely, provide a table and chair that can quickly become their temporary home office space.
  • plug ins – if your electrical plugs are hidden behind furniture, an extension cord or power strip would be great to power up all their electronic devices.
  • storage – luggage racks, an empty dresser, or hooks and hangers will make your guest feel more at home.
  • a full-length mirror – just so they can take a peek at themselves.

The sleeping space

Whether you are providing a spare guest room, a couch in the living room or basement, or a pop-up space somewhere else, here is what everyone needs for optimal sleep:

  • extra pillows – there should also be a variety of options between soft and squishy, firm, and just right.
  • blankets – provide a few different weight options for layering. Quilts, comforters, and duvets all provide a variety of a cozy atmosphere in different climates.
  • sheets and pillowcases – yes, people still like a top sheet. Top and bottom sheets are especially important if providing space on a couch.
  • throw blankets – these are nice when relaxing in a chair or on a front porch.

The bathroom

There is a child’s book called “Everybody Poops” and it’s true. As humans, we all do. Here are the personal items any guest will appreciate:

  • a hand towel – fresh ones please.
  • washcloths – nothing annoys me more than not having a washcloth. People still use them.
  • full-size bath towels – a stack of fluffy towels is great for those who like extras.
  • bathroom counter space – if the bathroom is shared, try to keep this shared space free of other clutter.
  • extra toilet paper – this should be stored in an obvious place that is easily reached while sitting on the toilet.
  • an extra robe – do I need to mention “clean” again? Just like clean towels, these are easily washed.
  • hair dryer – it’s a good idea to have an extra one that guests can use, without asking for yours.
  • extra cleaning supplies – point out where items are kept and where the toilet plunger is so they don’t have to ask. Obviously you aren’t expecting them to clean your bathroom, but you never know when people have accidents and may want to tidy up without bothering you.

Access to essential amenities

Sometimes people forget stuff, or their luggage gets delayed or lost. These items will be much-appreciated extras in those situations:

  • shampoo/conditioner
  • body wash or individual soaps
  • makeup remover wipes
  • razors and shaving cream
  • deodorant
  • extra toothbrushes (I buy these at the dollar store in a 6-pack)
  • Q-tips
  • mouthwash and dental floss
  • nail clippers and file
  • feminine products
  • basic medicines (Tylenol, Advil, antacid)

The snack situation

Pretend you are in a hotel, and what would you like in your mini bar? Bottled water is always a must.

Your guests will love to have something around incase they need a midnight snack and don’t want to bother anyone. Also, some people feel it is awkward getting into someone else’s kitchen.

Provide small packaged items like; trail mix, fruit leather, crackers, or chocolates. If you live somewhere that is famous for something, add your favorite snacks that highlight the local fare. 

Thoughtful touches

Other items that will round out your guests’ needs:

  • tissues
  • small wastebasket
  • slippers (if you are a ‘no shoes’ house)
  • universal phone charger
  • small stack of books
  • a variety of magazines
  • coasters (if you have wood furniture in the guest space)
  • a list of local attractions in your area
  • a guest book for them to sign (if you keep track of your visitors)
  • basket or bag for dirty laundry

This is the fun little thing we offer to our guests up north at the cottage. They can put their names on a rock, along with a message. We enjoy looking at all the notes and remembrances of those who have visited us there.

guest sign in book on rocks

Good times for overnight guests

When you are ready and waiting for your guests, you will be more relaxed and have the time to enjoy them. In turn, they will feel cared for knowing your thoughtful touches are a sign that you wanted them and their company.

I’d love to hear about your favorite ways to spoil your overnight guests. Please share in the comments, I love to hear stories of successes and even failures that are always funnier after the fact!

Thanks for joining me today. I’d love to have you hang out with me more often, follow along on these platforms.

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  1. Thank you! It is a favorite to go back and look through.

  2. Great ideas! I love the Rock guest book!

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