Lots of those smug interiors mags will tell you that your guest room should “feel like a hotel”. That’s great – if you actually have a spare room and the cash to kit it out. Alternatively, I’d say just try making any space for guests – be it a whole bedroom, a sofa bed or a good old blow-up mattress – as comfy and as practical as possible. Whatever you do, it should be a set-up that doesn’t mean you have to spend three days getting ready for your guests. These are some tips I’ve learned from years of staying with friends who are much better hosts than I’ll ever be.
Buy no-faff bedding
Changing sheets will always feel like a tedious chore, I think. Anything that reduces time and duvet-cover wrangling when you're already running around getting ready for visitors is a winner. The ultimate in fuss-free bedding must be M&S' ingenious coverless duvet (we've been big fans in The Pool office since it launched earlier this year). For something that feels a bit fancier, opt for linen bedding. It actually looks better slightly crumpled – ironing refusniks, rejoice! – and will make even the saddest lilo look inviting, plus the fabric's breathable and hypoallergenic. While linen sets are not cheap, they'll last you years and get softer the more you wash them, rather than go bobbly. For a reasonably priced option, try Made’s Brisa set, which comes in eight colours (you get a duvet cover and two pillow cases). Eve, better known for its mattresses, also has good value, quality linen sets, which include fitted sheets.
Do DIY layering
I once went to stay at a mate’s place in Scotland in the winter – it was snowing outside and pretty chilly in my bedroom. I was just wondering how I was going to survive the night, when I looked in a cupboard and found the cosiest tartan blanket. It saved me from having to admit to my host that I was freezing and also meant I could get some sleep. Everyone has different preferences when it comes to sleeping temperature (I’m a one-foot-out kind of girl, usually) so, when dressing the guest bed, make sure there is a throw or blanket in the mix – or a sheet if it’s warm. On thickness of duvet, opt for a medium-warmth one (between 7-10.5 tog), so guests can layer up or down.
BUYING FURNITURE? Check the date
It might seem like we’ve got ages until Christmas (it’s actually less than two months, pals), but not in the furniture world. Now’s the time to buy that new sofa bed, as most are made to order so can take weeks. A number of brands have said the end of the first week of November is the cut-off, so my advice is to get cracking. If you miss the last order date, my tip is John Lewis' Kix range, which can be delivered in as little as three days.
VAC-PACKS WILL SOLVE YOUR STORAGE PROBLEMS
If you haven’t yet discovered vacuum packing, you’re in for a treat (well, a small sense of satisfaction and more cupboard space, at the very least). These inexpensive storage bags will reduce the likes of bulky duvets and pillows by up to 80%, meaning you’ll be able to easily stash them away between visitors. They are simple to use – you suck the air out with your vacuum cleaner – and readily available; I get mine from Amazon and there are plenty of versions on the high street. Bear in mind that some bedding brands will recommend against vacuum-packing feather or down duvets, as it can damage the filling, so it may be best to opt for a synthetic fill if you are planning on vaccing.
Even if your guest is kipping on the sofa, do them a favour and put a table lamp within reach, so they don’t have to get out of bed to switch the light off. If you are lucky enough to have a guest room, two task lamps are ideal so they can read (or scroll through their phones, more like) without disturbing the person next to them.
Remember the little things
We’re not talking chocolates on the pillow, but thoughtful touches will be greatly appreciated. That’s things like digging out those mini toiletries you nicked from your last hotel stay. As a serial toothpaste forgetter, I love a host who has a spare tube ready, ditto a posh shower gel. A fluffy towel on the bed (white is the chic choice, I'm told) and a plug socket nearby for phone charging, will also help boost your hostess-with-the-mostess status.