How to Be a Great Host

Pointing out where the tea or coffee is kept is only one of the things hosts might consider when guests come to stay. Here are some more  

Credit: Flickr/mink

You don’t need a lot going on in your guest room to be a great host

You’ve offered your spare room or couch, now here’s how to follow through as a great host

I cursed as I bumped through yet another cupboard. Sleepless from jet lag, I was hunting in vain for the makings of a cup of tea while my hostess slumbered.

If only I’d thought to ask, or she’d thought to offer, rudimentary tea-making instructions before I turned in, I wouldn’t be conducting a can-to-can search of her kitchen’s recesses. (Here are my tips on how to be a great houseguest).

Pointing out where the tea or coffee is kept is only one of the things hosts might consider when guests come to stay. Here are some more.

How Not to Host

  • Don’t say yes when you mean no. If the dog is having surgery or you’re in the throes of heartbreak and avoiding human contact, let folks know it’s not a good time. Nobody wants to learn they’re unwelcome when leaving is no longer an option.
  • Don’t wait to learn what guests want. When planning a visit, gently probe them for expectations. Do they want to spend a lot of time with you, or do they have other business in your town? How will they occupy themselves while you’re working?
  • Don’t leave rules unspoken. Don’t flush the toilet while the shower is running? Save the cookies for Dad? Get out of the condo by 7:45 am? Your guests can only follow house rules if they know them.
  • Don’t stay mum on your schedule. Let guests know when you’re free and when they’ll have to fend for themselves.

How to Be a Great Host

  • Provide the basics. Towels, clean sheets and, in this day and age, your Wi-Fi password. A pitcher of water and a glass, guest soap and a small vase of flowers by the bed are sweet, but entirely optional. (If you do want to decorate for guests, see these tips on how to create a welcoming entryway).
  • Tour the place when they arrive. The location of the bathroom, recycle box, home alarm keypad and, yes, coffee or tea are essential information for a smooth stay. A map with nearby attractions marked can be another lifesaver for tourists.
  • Give guests their own space. No matter how small your place, everybody needs a corner where they know they can drop their stuff and not be in anyone’s way.
  • Try to shield their sleeping spot. In today’s space-crunched interiors, you may not have a spare room to offer guests, but at a minimum try to keep snuffly pets and screeching toddlers from crawling over them at five a.m. If this is impossible, consider giving them your room and braving the sofa or bottom bunk yourself.

Want to get paid for being a host? Sign up your spare room at Airbnb.