Libby McMillan Henson
guest room needs

Try spending a night in your own guest room. What seems like an abstract problem quickly turns very tangible, and you’ll see what’s missing or inadequate. To help make sure your guest room is up to snuff, here are ten items every guest room needs:

1. Space in the room and closet for clothing and luggage

Even a small carry-on needs space to avoid getting in the way. Make sure there’s a space for the carry-on to sit out of the way, while still being accessible, especially if you have no dresser or closet space for them.

If possible, though, offer them closet or dresser space. A small set of hangers (5-6 per person) and a couple drawers in a dresser should be more than enough. It’s a bit of an investment, but the payoff is making your guest feel truly welcome, not forcing them to live out of their suitcase.

2. A comfortable bed with lots of pillows and bedcovers

You can't put your old squeaky bedframe into the guest room and expect any couple to get a good night's sleep. When one of them moves, the squeak awakens them both. Ditto for a comfortable mattress. You can invest in a nice firm mattress during a sale (January is typically hot for mattress sales) and then add a soft, inviting topper.

Don’t stop at the mattress. Add an assortment of different pillows and pillowcases to help set up whatever arrangement is most comfortable for them.

The same goes for bedcovers. A heavy down comforter will cater to anyone who likes it warm and offering a variety of quilts and blankets will help let your guest get the bed exactly the temperature they like.

3. A bedside table and reading light

Everyone likes having some things near them when they sleep: a glass of water, a book, or their glasses, to name a few. Guests won't want to leave them on the floor, so a bedside table is an inexpensive way to make sure they’re easily accessible.

A lamp is another great, inexpensive addition to the bedside table. A lamp with a three-way bulb accomplishes everything a guest might need: soothing bedside light to read by at night and a brighter light to dress by in the morning.

4. Wastebasket

There are a lot of little things you need to throw away and having an obvious place for them to go just helps to smooth things over. Yes, they could just throw out the trash in the bathroom or the kitchen, but saving your guests the hassle of having to leave the room to take care of something so basic will pay off greatly.

5. Convenient power outlets for phones and tablets

Nearly everyone has a cellphone and other devices they need to charge overnight. Give them an easy way to do so, without having to move furniture or crawl around on their hands and knees. Extension cords on either side of the bed will be well received. If possible, find out what type of devices they have ahead of time, and have the correct chargers ready and plugged in ahead of time.

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6. Towels and basic toiletries

Most people bring their own items, but everyone forgets from time to time. Having extra soap, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, hair dryer, and the like will help cut down on those last-minute trips to the nearest drug store.

Towels might already be in the bathroom, but if it’s a shared bathroom, it’s a good gesture to set out towels separately in the room, to avoid confusion later.

7. Water bottles or drinking glasses

Offer guests a way to have a middle-of-the-night drink.  Bottled water on the bedstand is a real nicety, but if your tap water tastes great, a clean drinking glass works just as well.

8. TV channel guide & remote instructions

If your guestroom has a television, spend a few minutes creating a channel guide. Include networks, news and sports channels, special interest channels (History, Smithsonian, Nature, Travel, DIY, Bravo) and movie channels. If your TV has Netflix access, list that too.

Be sure to include directions for turning on the TV, as each remote is different.  Test your remote to make sure it's working and doesn't need batteries.

Hot Tip:  After creating your channel guide, consider laminating it so it lasts a long time and won't get destroyed by a spilled drink or a tear.

9. A nightlight

A simple low-wattage nightlight lights the way to the bathroom in the middle of the night. You don't want your guests to bump their shins or ram their toes while they're in unfamiliar surroundings.

10. A full-length mirror

You probably have guests over for a reason, and that reason is likely an event where appearance is important. A full-length mirror is an obvious help for anyone who needs to dress up for a special occasion. This is especially helpful if there isn’t a bathroom attached to the guest room where they could get dressed.

Bonus Items:  Local magazines and map

Okay, we confess, this isn't a necessity . . . but it certainly makes for a nice welcome, especially for out-of-state guests. You can even use sticky notes in the magazine to point out places you'd like your friends or family to see. Highlight your home on the map with a star. Make sure the magazines are no older than a year.

Hot Tip: If you have grandkids coming to visit, put some age-appropriate magazines into the room. 

Related: The Perfect Bar Cart 

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About The Author

A contributing editor and video producer at ApartmentGuide and, Libby McMillan Henson has created award-winning content for radio, tv, print and digital for over two decades. Libby recently authored a book about her home base of Greenville, SC, and has also lived in Austin, San Francisco, Nashville, Boston and Sanibel/Captiva Islands. A lifelong traveler and photographer, Libby loves exploring new places and sharing her finds.