One thing that excites me the most about finally being out on my own and finding my place is that I can have an extra room that is not for a roommate, but just a place for guests to stay. Considering that I live far away from home, my friends and family usually stay for awhile. I always want my them to have a great experience during their stay.
Think of how hotel rooms are designed. Besides the obvious bed, there is usually a desk or a table and chairs, a television, a coffeemaker, and possibly a microwave and/or mini fridge All of these comforts will help your guests feel at home.
Furniture might sound like a lot, but it can be purchased cheaply at a garage sale, thrift store, or craigslist and freshened up with a new coat of paint. A small table or bookshelf with storage bins would work. Remember those entertainment stands used for the old, boxy televisions?” Those will work, too.
Furthermore, the purchases are practically a steal if you know when to look. Try looking for the microwave, coffee pot, and mini-fridge on sale in August when “dorm room sales” are going on. You can always find great deals, and you don’t need something amazing — remember it won’t really be seeing daily use.
Your coffee fiend friends will love you forever if you provide a way for them to have coffee before being social (it’s nothing personal, just a comfort thing). Organize a few mugs near the coffee pot and everything you need to make the coffee stored nearby. Provide sugar and milk or creamer and something to stir with as well (coffee stirrers or a spoon should be fine).
Hotel rooms are also usually equipped with a sitting area of some sort. This can be as simple as a small table and a couple of chairs. Again, shop garage sales, craigslist, and thrift stores if you are on a budget Everyone needs some personal time and space.
Give them a relaxing place to drink coffee and surf the web or read in the morning. This is also great for early-risers who are ready to get up, but don’t feel comfortable helping themselves in the kitchen.
Just like home
Help your guests feel more at home by having plenty of extra blankets in the room. You may also want to have towels and washcloths out and visible so that guests know where to find them when they want to freshen up. If there is a bathroom attached to their room, leave the towels in there, otherwise a dresser or other stand in the room will work fine.
Add a mirror (again, a super cheap purchase during August). A long dressing mirror is the best, but any will do. Think of the little things you use on a daily basis. If you have the extra space, a vanity would be a lovely addition.
Additionally, make sure to include nightstands on each side of the bed (particularly if couples are frequent guests) with lamps on each side. They do not necessarily have to match, just as long as you keep the sides symmetrical. having reading lamps will enable night-owls to stay awake and read without disturbing the entire house.
Remember to include a small clock on one of the tables so that your guests don’t miss anything! This seems to be one of those things that we always have in our rooms, but often forget to put in guest rooms.
Add a vase of flowers to a table — either pick them fresh or buy a small bouquet from a grocery store. If flowers are not a good option for you, consider having candles or a pleasant fragrance of some kind in the room. If flowers aren’t your style, add a potted plant or zen garden.
Provide reading material. A shelf under the nightstand would be a great place to stock these. Consider providing magazines, Sudoku puzzles or local travel information. Often, your local chamber of commerce provides travel guides free, you just have to ask. This will help guests who are unfamiliar with the area scout it out a bit more and maybe find something they would enjoy doing.
Provide a basket near the coffee stand with flavored coffee, hot chocolate, and tea to help guests feel welcome and comfortable. You might also provide snacks such as muffins, donuts, granola bars, snack cakes, and fruit.
Gift baskets are a great way to welcome an out-of town guest. Small baskets can be purchased at a dollar store. This is a great place to include a card or a note thanking the person for coming, or even an itinerary if specific events are planned. You might also consider getting treats from a local bakery and just a “thanks for coming” note if a gift basket seems too frilly for your friend.
Include things that you know your guests like, such as flavored coffees, tea, or chocolate. Regional foods also make great additions. Almost every area is famous for something; think of what your area takes pride in. You could also create a seasonally themed basket.
Don’t forget the little ones! It is sometimes difficult for families traveling together. Little ones can always be a handful, and being away from the comfort of home presents special challenges. Children often act out when they are in unfamiliar situations; sometimes this is attributed to being nervous, unsure how to act, or even bored. A small gesture to welcome the child, even just a coloring book and crayons, will help the child feel welcome in your home and alleviate the pressure of staying in an unfamiliar place.
Remember, this isn’t something you need to go over the top with, just a couple things will be fine your friend will feel right at home.