Get guest room shipshape before the holidays
Before you open your house to guests this holiday season, make sure their room is ready.
"When you are creating a guest room, you want your guests to feel like they at home," says Kathy Hopkin, owner of Bed & Breakfast of Greensburg. "Don't forget the little things such as a toothbrush and toothpaste, as well as working outlets, a television and an Internet connection."
Hopkin and other bed-and-breakfast owners have perfected how to prepare for a guest, because they do it every day.
When you welcome someone into your house, you want them to feel comfortable and at home, so do the little things that will help them feel just that way, says Liz Sullivan, owner of the Inn on Negley in Shadyside.
Start with the bed, because there's nothing better than a good night's sleep, Sullivan says. She offers three types of pillows -- hard, soft and down. Don't overlook blankets, sheets and comforters.
"You want to make your guest comfortable," Sullivan says. "I love good pillows and fresh towels. I try to think about what I want when I travel, and what I would want if I am staying at my sister's house. And you don't have to spend a lot of money. Make a budget and a list of items to buy, and that will help you know what you need."
In the bathroom, you can prepare something such as a spa kit with soaps and lotions. Flowers -- real or artificial -- brighten any room. It's important for your guest to have a private space, says Sullivan, who has comfortable chairs near good lighting and set apart so a guest can read or just relax away from it all. She always welcomes guests with a handwritten note, bottled water and a treat such as tea and cookies. Throughout her rooms, you will find teddy bears in interesting places. That's how she puts her mark on a room. You might want to use something else that is unique or that represents you.
You have to be good at anticipating what your guests might need, Sullivan says.
Make sure everything works, from lights to outlets to electronics. Have a snack in the room when they arrive, because they've been traveling and most likely will be hungry. Chocolate-covered strawberries, golden delicious apples or crackers, pepperoni and cheese are great options.
Let them know they only have to bring their suitcases, and you'll take care of the rest. It's important to have a suitcase stand so they don't have to use a chair or bend over to get something because it's on the floor. Places such as Bed Bath & Beyond and craft stores have a lot of great items, ranging from $29.99 to $59.99.
Robes and slippers and a hair dryer are a nice touch, because they take up a lot of space in a suitcase but are nice to have once you arrive. People love to have their needs anticipated and to not have to ask for everything. It also shows you made the extra effort.
"A gift bag placed on the bed or table is a wonderful idea, because everyone loves to get a present," Sullivan says. "That gives the message, 'You really want me here.'"
Jim Stanek, co-owner of the Mainstay at Saxonburg Bed & Breakfast with Brian Oxendale, says to extend your preparation for your guest to the entire house. That's what he does.
"We want them to feel welcome in every room, not just the room they are staying in, because we are inviting them into the entire place," Stanek says. "You want them to feel like this is their home away from home. Having traveled, I know the way I want to be treated -- with respect and a warm welcome -- so that is the way I treat my guests."
Stanek says it is important that you be available when guests arrive in case they have questions or need something you might not have thought of. In addition to the amenities you find in hotels, such as shampoo and soap, you should make sure you have modern amenities such as WiFi, DVD players and places to charge smartphones and iPads.
If you take care of things ahead of time, then you will have more time to visit.
Clutter and dirt are two pet peeves of Ed Menzer, who owns the Parador of Pittsburgh, a Caribbean-style bed-and-breakfast in the North Side. "If you walk into a room and there's no place to put anything or you open a window and the breeze causes dust bunnies to fly around, there's nothing that gets to me more than that."
Take time to do a deep clean of the guest room a week in advance, and do some light dusting and cleaning the day before, Menzer says. Also, make sure, whether it's a dedicated guest room for your in-laws or you are offering up one of the children's rooms for grandma, that there is a table by the bed for reading, enough room in the closet to hang some clothes, and drawer space so guests don't have to live out of their suitcase while they're there.
"If you are inviting guests into your home, make space for them," Menzer says. "Have extra things such as pillows and blankets for them. Getting the spare bedroom in shape for a friend or relative takes some planning, but it's worth it when you see people relaxing and enjoying themselves."
Be room ready
• Supply extra blankets and pillows.
• Check to see that there's plenty of light by the bed, at least 75 watts, because a lot of people like to read before they go to sleep.
• Have a dedicated bathroom if possible. If not, create space for your guest to place personal items.
• Prepare a basket of things they might forget, such as toothpaste, toothbrush, lotion, shampoo.
• Personalize the room for the person who is coming, such as providing chocolates for your sister or scented soaps for your great-aunt.
• It's nice to have an alarm clock radio on the nightstand.
• Use unscented mineral oil and add drops of lavender to freshen the space.
• Have window coverings, so no one can look in on them.
• Have a door or something to close off the room.
Source: Ed Menzer, owner of the Parador of Pittsburgh