Catching up with friends or family over drinks and nibbles out is welcome fun, but having them over to your home allows for even more quality time without distractions. And when out-of-town guests choose to stay with you over a hotel, it can lead to even better connecting. If you’ve got a spare room and are feeling host-y, that’s all the preparedness you need, right? Level up your overnight hosting game with a few additions to your home — your guests will thank you (with gifts and future visits).
In order to find every host’s must-haves, we spoke with a few professionals to find out how to properly welcome your overnight guests. “Put yourself in the shoes of your guest, and try to anticipate what they might need, before they even ask for it,” explain Matthew Powell and George Trinovitch, who run The Pentagoet Bed and Breakfast in Castine, Maine. “The little touches go a long way — extra toiletries, chargers, perhaps a glass of wine or their favorite cocktail waiting upon arrival.”
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Clutter can be the enemy of relaxation. A luggage rack or bench for unpacking bags and purses helps guests keep organized, rather than creating disorder their stay, says Bella Manicini, of Bella Mancini Design, who designs homes in New York City and the Hamptons and has hosted many a guest in her home over the years.
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A more affordable version you can fold up and leave in the closet or toss in the trunk of a car for your own trips.
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“Remember to leave your guests with empty drawers and an empty closet with plenty of hangers,” says Mancini, who loves these handcrafted beechwood ones that elevate a closet to a true experience.
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Even basic slim hangers, though, will keep your guests from having to push aside your stuff during their own time away from home.
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Particularly in a time of work-from-wherever, Mancini recommends a small desk for light work or to be used as a vanity. This one is a bargain and folds up for easy storage in smaller rooms.
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This clip-on light doesn’t just make sure your Zoom calls are well-lit, it also comes in handy for late-night reading.
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Though it may seem obvious, Mancini says to make sure that you have a proper nightstand to make sure your guests have a place for their phones, chargers and more overnight.
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Guests may want to make sure their weekend-away look is en pointe with a full-length mirror.
Toiletries & linens
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“Get some good-sized, fluffy, fresh towels,” says Trinovitch. “You want people to feel like they’re being wrapped in a cloud, not like they’re struggling to dry their bodies.” We named these the best plush bath towels on the market.
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Stock your linen closet with extra affordable a la carte towels, too, like these which we named our favorite affordable bath towels.
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Extra washcloths are always helpful for quick touch-ups of whatever kind. Affordable ones ensure you won’t be annoyed when they remove their makeup with them.
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“When we think of must-haves for a room, our minds immediately go to Malin + Goetz soaps, shampoos, conditioners and body lotions,” says Powell. “They’re a little more high-end, but they immediately tell your guest that they’re here for a spa-like experience, even in a small way. Get ready to luxuriate!”
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“Don’t forget extra toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash, floss,” adds Trinovitch. “From experience, there’s nothing worse than being in an unfamiliar environment and having corn stuck in your teeth… without floss! The stuff of nightmares.”
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“Our dream brand for bed linens has always been Frette,” share the Maine B&B owners and consummate hosts. “It is the ultimate in luxury bedding. It makes such a big difference, especially on that first day after traveling, when you slip into bed and you feel the sheets, and your thought is, ‘OMG, these SHEETS!’ And then you slip into a dreamland of sleep wonder.”
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We named these sheets the absolute best cotton sheets on the market. They’re breathable and crisp, great at regulating temperature throughout the night, and the eyelet hem along the top sheet and pillowcases made these sheets feel straight out of a hotel.
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If you’re looking for something a little more luxe, linen sheets are the answer. We named these the best linen sheets thanks to the ultra-luxe feeling and wide range of color options.
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“A good place to lay your head is the most essential thing for a guest bedroom,” says Powell. And this one from Coop is definitely a good place to start, as we named it the best pillow on the market due to the fact that you can adjust its fill to accommodate your preferences for height and firmness, making it the best, most versatile pillow we tested.
From $139 at L.L.Bean
Extra blankets are a must for Powell and Trinovitch, especially in Maine — and it’s fun to keep your supplies local (L.L.Bean is a longtime Maine-stay).
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If you don’t have a spare bed, keep a decent air mattress in a closet to elevatee sleeping on the floor. We named this one the best air mattress of the year thanks to its built-in pump for quick and convenient inflation, and a raised pillow that helps mimic the feel of a real bed.
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Keep ear plugs and disposable eye masks (plucked from business-class flights, or from Amazon) in the drawer next to the guest bed to ensure an undisturbed night of rest, Mancini says.
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Our pick for the best sleep mask around, the Mavogel Cotton Sleep Eye Mask features a genius nose wire, so it blocks all — and we mean all — of the light. The mask is soft on the eyes and comfortable on the head, and it never so much as budged during the night, no matter our sleep position.
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Everyone likes a little drink of water before bedtime, right? Make it easy for your guests with a carafe so they don’t have to get up in the middle of the night and stumble around your kitchen in the dark.
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“Your guest rooms need glassware,” reminds Powell. For water, wine, cocktails, whatever! “It’s a perfect opportunity to show off your style with a unique find. We source much of our glassware and tea sets from vintage shops around Maine. For wine and water we love a Riedel glass — they’re lighter than air.”
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So they can keep their phone/camera/earbuds/laptop/everything electric at full charge.
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“Being able to play your own music makes you feel right at home,” says Powell. “We first found these for our own home use, but they are such excellent speakers that we are looking to use them for guest rooms. In a dream scenario, we’re planning to hide the Bluetooth-enabled speakers in vintage radio tables. A little old-meets-new moment.”
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Spare chargers. Enough said.
Mancini has one of these in her home guest room — even a guest’s wires shouldn’t be all tangled up for their stay.
From $15.99 at Amazon
If guests are in a hurry to get out in the morning or aren’t sit-down-breakfast type of people, Powell and Trinovitch leave a few breakfast bars in each room along with a couple of portable, easy-to-eat snacks. Think of it as a minibar your guests won’t have to pay extra to explore.
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“We once stayed in a B&B and each room had its own collection of notebooks, filled with previous guests’ memories of what they did while at the inn. It was so personal, and lovely, and gave us ideas about what to do in the area. It inspired us to carry on the tradition.”
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“Everyone knows the classic mint/chocolate on a pillow as you come into your room. But we’ve put a unique Maine spin on that tradition,” says Trinovitch. “We’re working with the bakers over at Cape Whoopie (an artisanal whoopie pie bakery in Portland) to make mini whoopettes for our guests’ pillows! It’s perfectly quirky and Maine-y! Having a funny touch like that puts such personality into your space and the overall experience! Your guest won’t forget it.” Pick your own little treat with a personal touch (don’t @ us, a classic is a classic).
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“We’ve been to inns in the past that have special treats for dogs: custom “pupcones,” ice cream cones made with peanut butter and bacon bits,” say the Maine B&B owners, who are dog lovers. “If your guest has a pet, try to incorporate them into the experience too!”
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“We like to include a guide book and map in our rooms,” says Trinovitch. “Whether you make a personalized, hand-written guide of your favorite places in the area or you buy a book, a guide to the immediate area is so helpful for really enjoying yourself! Plus, as the host, you have the inside scoop.”