guest room needs

Have you ever spent a night in your own guest room? You’ll quickly realize what’s missing or inadequate if you do, and we highly recommend this course of action. Either way, here’s a handy list of 10 items every guest room needs.

1. A Place for Clothing or Luggage

Even a small carry-on needs a place to be set up or stored without being underfoot.  If your guests will have no dresser drawers, this becomes even more important: they’ll be living out of their baggage. Buy some inexpensive folding luggage racks, or clear two drawers and enough space to store the luggage: in a corner, or the closet.  Provide a little space for hanging clothes and a dozen non-slip hangars.

2. A Comfortable, Quiet Bed

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. Don’t shift a worn-out mattress to your guests. They will be just as uncomfortable as you were.

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. This will make your guest bed feel (and sleep) like a quiet cloud.

3. A Bedside Table

What do you like close at hand when you crawl into bed?  Your book? A place to put your reading glasses or a glass of water? A bedside lamp?  All these require a small table.  Forcing guests to put things on the floor isn’t cool. Bedside tables in inexpensive and widely available.

4. A Reading Light

An overhead light isn’t typically as important as a reading light: your guests will typically be with you during the daytime. A bedside lamp with a three-way bulb acomplishes everything a guest might need: soothing bedside light, as well as brighter light to dress by.

5. A Convenient Place to Plug in Phones

Nearly everyone has a cellphone and so they’ll need to charge it at night. 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.

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6. A Variety of Pillows & Bedcovers

Everyone sleeps in a different position and has a different preference for pillows. Splurge on an assortment of pillows and extra pillow cases, and let your guests decide what they like best. Be sure to tell them they can swap the pillows inside any shams for pillowcase pillows, too. You want them to be comfortable.

People also vary a lot in their preferences on sleeping temperature.  Your guests may or may not have their own thermostat: if they don’t, a variety of bedcovers becomes even more important. Down comforters are nice in cold weather, but may be too warm for some. A pile of quilts and cotton blankets is often a great way to let guests create their own sleeping temperature.

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.

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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 Little Closet Space and some Empty Hangars

To really make a guest feel welcome, you have to send them a signal they don’t have to live out of their suitcase. Have a few non-slip hangars in the closet (5-6 per person is a good minimum) and a little space on the rod. Be sure to let your friends or family know they’re free to use the closet when they go to their room. Otherwise, they might feel like it’s nosy to open the closet door.

(Special thanks to reader Kathryn Gibbs Spencer, who suggested this tip in a comment on the article. We edited to include her advice!) 

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. 

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