18 Tips to Make Your Guest Room Feel Like Home

Interior of contemporary bedroom for guest
Getty Images/Eric Hernandez

Preparing for and hosting house guests can be a very enjoyable experience. There's something satisfying about helping your visitors feel especially welcome and comfortable.

When you start to plan your guest room, think about what you'd expect to find in a 5-diamond hotel and try to make your room measure up to that standard. Your budget may not have enough in it to let you create a getaway oasis, but you can clear the decks, arrange what's necessary, and provide a quiet place to relax.

Read on for a comprehensive list of things to do or buy to help you set up a lovely guest room for your visitors.

  • The Best Bed Your Money Can Buy Don't give your guest the oldest, most saggy mattress you have. If you can't afford a new or good used bed, think about getting a quality air mattress. They're really quite comfortable and can be placed on top of a box spring, over a sofa bed mattress, or on the floor.
  • Bedding Upgrades Beyond clean bedding, think about adding wonderful bed linens and comfort items often supplied by fine B&B's: a featherbed mattress topper, a choice of pillows, a cozy down comforter, extra blankets, and freshly ironed pillowcases.
  • Fresh Linens Always have an extra set of bed and bath linens available for your guests. Accidents do happen! Or you may have one of those wonderful guests who insist on changing the sheets when they leave. Let them do it, and thank them profusely!
  • A Place to Set Down a Suitcase Clear a space to put a luggage rack or a small table or bench to set down a suitcase. No one likes to have to stoop over to the floor to pull out a clean pair of socks. Even a chair is better than nothing.
  • Clear the Decks Resist the temptation to put your beautiful collection of dolls on the dresser or fill the closet with out-of-season clothes. In a guest room, less is more -- more space, more comfortable, and more welcoming. Get rid of anything that you would not find in the room of a fine hotel. Keep only the most useful items in the room, like a clock and calendar.
  • A Comfy Place to Sit Some people do not feel comfortable sitting on a bed and your guests shouldn't have to. Place an upholstered armchair or side chair in the room with a table and lamp close by.
  • Good Lighting One of the biggest hotel decor missteps is walking into an otherwise nice hotel room and there's no light to read by. It's always nice to have a light control near the bed, so your guest won't have to stumble around in the dark, just to turn a light on. If nothing else, provide a good reading light near a chair or over the bed. Another fixture or lamp near the desk would be great. A small night light is helpful, and a lighted magnifying makeup mirror is a real luxury.
  • Hanging Clothes Storage If your guest room shares space with a home office, clear at least a foot or two of pole space in the closet. Or purchase an inexpensive over-the-door hook that can accommodate some hanging clothes. Don't forget a supply of 6 or 8 hangers. A simple hook on the wall or behind a closet door can hold a robe, coat, or a purse.
  • Drawer Space If you have an extra chest of drawers, that's ideal, but if not, clearing out at least one or two drawers for small items is sufficient. Both you and your guest will feel better with odds and ends out of sight.
  • Simple Basics A lighted clock next to the bed is a great amenity, and an alarm clock or clock/radio is even better. Provide paper and pens or pencils, scissors, tape, tissue, and a hairdryer and have all the bases covered. If you don't have an extra iron and ironing board to offer, be sure to tell your guest where they can find yours. A phone in the room will be a much-appreciated bonus item. You can even consider providing a pre-paid phone card and instructions on how to use it.
  • Provide Privacy You might know that the big maple tree just outside the window camouflages everything going on, but your guests won't. Choose window coverings which not only add to the character of the room but provide privacy and light control, as well. If you must keep it simple, a nice blind can offer works great. You can always add a beautiful valance or side panels later..
  • Provide a Set of Keys Put together several sets of keys to your home (and car if your guests will be using it). Color-code the sets and keep track of who has what. Keep a simple log (where you can find it) of who has which colored set, and check them in when they're returned.
  • Give Guests the "Inside Scoop" If your home has a security system, provide instructions for your guests. This applies if you live in a gated community or neighborhood that has limited access to driveways, swimming pool, walking paths, parking regulations, or emergency evacuation rules.
  • Local Tourist Info If your guests will be going around town without you, they'll appreciate area maps, brochures on the hot spots, and directions to your home. Make a list of the best shopping areas, museums, parks, and your favorite restaurants. Mark special locations on the maps with highlighter pens. You can print out directions from major roadways and laminate them, making sure they know how to get back home! Place all the items in a box or basket that you keep in the guest room. You won't have to re-gather everything when another guest arrives.
  • Snacks to Enjoy House guests get "the nibbles" in the evening, just like everyone else. Place wrapped snacks, fresh fruit or cookies and a bottle of water in the guest room. How about a small coffee pot or water heater, instant cider, tea, and coffee, and creamer and sugar? When your guests are up late at night reading that book that they can get to only while away from home, they'll be able to put together a tasty snack without sneaking down to your kitchen.
  • Good Reading at Hand If you've read a wonderful novel, share it with your guest. Five-minute mysteries, travel books, an assortment of magazines, classic novels, or the local paper will provide quiet-time activities for your guest.
  • Center for Entertainment A TV in the guest room would be much appreciated. Add a DVD or CD player and some of your favorite movies. Don't forget to place the remote control near the bed so they don't have to get out of bed to turn them off.
  • High Tech If your home is wired, great! If not, provide a phone cord or cable connection to hook up a computer. Many people travel with laptop computers and love to do work or check e-mail when away from home. Provide a desk and chair and a good lamp.

The list of things you've just read might seem very long, but the things on the list are very simple and logical to provide. By thinking of what you would like to find in a fine hotel room, you'll be on your way to creating a perfect guest room.