Family and friends arrive with the advent of the holiday season. Along with decking the halls and wrapping the gifts, why not spend some time creating a welcoming guest room for them?
A comfortable bed is the most important part of the bedroom. "The bed has to be great because you always want your guests to sleep well," says Sandy Dowling, co-owner of The Willows Bed and Breakfast in Central Point, "Even if you don't have the best mattress, get a great cover like a down mattress cover." If that's not possible, an egg-crate topper is a less expensive alternative.
"Always have high-quality linens "¦ nothing less then 300-thread-count sheets "¦ higher if you can find it," says Dowling. Although high thread count sheets are luxurious, they tend to wrinkle. She has found 350-thread-count sheets hold up well and do not look too wrinkled when removed promptly from the dryer. Adorn the bed with fluffy pillows and consider investing in a down comforter as it keeps guests warm in winter and cool in the summer.
No matter what the season, your guest room should be clean and clutter-free. Although it may not be the Ritz, your room will look more welcoming with open space for your guests. Use this opportunity to make sure there is ample room and hangers for their belongings in drawers and closets. Although tempting, resist the urge to add candles or fragrances, as they can be fire and allergy hazards. "The key is making guests feel like they're at home," says Susan Roos, co-owner of Jacksonville's Magnolia Inn, "It's the little touches that people remember. Books and flowers make people feel more comfortable."
Dowling, too, says fresh flowers are "a must" as are room-darkening curtains and an alarm clock. Weary travelers arriving on late flights or after long drives will relish a dark room and a luxurious bed. Place reading lamps on both sides of the beds with some current reading material and, if needed, the television remote control. "That way they do not have to get out of that cozy little spot you've created for them," she says. Remember to tuck extra pillows and blankets in the closet and drape a cozy throw across the back of a reading chair.
Depending on your guests' needs, provide items for their comfort. Shampoo, conditioner, hair dryer, lotion, bath bubbles, and soap are a great start. "If a woman is coming to visit, we try to give her the room with a large bathtub and lots of bathroom luxuries," says Roos. A small wicker basket with hand laundry soap and a few clothespins, a shower cap, some sunscreen, toothpaste, razor and gel, shows your thoughtfulness.
With the basics complete, add your personal flair. Welcome your guests "by adding a table, a chair and a television to give your guests the feeling they're home," says Roos. In small spaces, a luggage rack topped by a tray does double duty, providing an impromptu desk for your guests. Highlight local activities and news and include some stamped postcards. Visiting wine aficionados may enjoy a bottle of artisan wine and winery information. Outdoor enthusiasts may like to know about biking and hiking trails. Set out a tray of bottled waters or a pitcher of water and a glass. And when they retire for the evening, set a fine, wrapped, dark chocolate on their pillow.
Of course, be prepared for the consequences of that luxurious guest retreat. Friends and family may never want to leave!