Common Complaints From House Guests
You may think you've made all the necessary preparations when expecting people to stay, but when was the last time you took a look around your home through a stranger's eyes? Try walking through the house using this checklist and discover things you've missed, forgotten about or simply never thought could matter.
ON ARRIVAL: Mountains of ClutterEveryday outdoor paraphernalia tends to build up in halls and entrances, and guests are likely to feel awkward if they have to negotiate a mass of unfamiliar coats, books, shoes and umbrellas just to get through your front door. Make sure everything's hung up, put into racks or under the stairs so you can lead them through with ease.
Dark EntriesEstate agents ramble on about light and space in houses because they know a first impression of bright airiness makes a good first impression. Take a leaf out of their book and do as much as possible to brighten up even the narrowest hall corridor.
If there are windows, make sure the curtains are open. Adding a big mirror to one wall will give the illusion of greater space, while fresh flowers on a table in the entry will provide a welcoming touch.
BEDROOM: Nowhere to UnpackPicture it: you've been travelling for hours, you're tired, hot and sweaty and just want to unpack and change clothes. You open the wardrobe and drawers…only to be confronted by a mass of other's people little-worn garments. Nobody likes to feel they're not welcome in a room, so make sure you clear space for use in the wardrobe and empty out at least two drawers.
Neglecting the DetailsGuests won't feel welcome if they're sharing a room with a bunch of discarded soft toys, several sets of golf clubs and the vacuum cleaner. People like staying in hotels for the little touches they provide, so make your own guests feel just as good by adding comforts that show you're glad to have them.
Leave clean towels (plural) on the beds, put spare pillows and blankets in the wardrobe, ensure there's a water jug and glass on the bedside table - and for midnight snacks, put some biscuits in a pretty tin and pop them on the dressing table.
BATHROOM: Dirty Linen in PublicYou'll probably remember to have a quick whip round with the toilet cleaner and remove the hairs from the bath, but what about those towels that've been on the rack for weeks? Finding somebody else's grime on towels is going to have your guests wondering about hygiene in other areas of your home, so change the hand towels, wash the bathmat and the shower curtain for a truly clean cloakroom.
LIVING ROOM: Hairy MomentsBeloved pets may be a comfort when they're snuggled up to you on the sofa, but petless guests find it less relaxing to spend their stay brushing dog or cat hairs off clothing. Give all the suites and carpets - especially the areas your pet likes to sit the most - a good going-over with the vacuum cleaner before arrival.
Too Much TellyMost of us have the television on during the evening, whether we're actually watching or just using it as a distraction while we cook, clean or fill gaps in conversation. Guests, however, may assume that having the TV on while you talk to them means you're not giving the chat your undivided attention. Keep the set switched off until there's something you can't miss - when you should ask guests if they mind having the TV on for a bit, so they don't feel shoved aside.
LEAVING: Parting Should be Sweet SorrowEven if they've been the most boring, demanding or obnoxious people you've ever had to stay, try not to make it obvious you want your guests to leave when the allotted time comes. Don't look at your watch, enthuse about their plans for after the visit or suggest they make a move before it gets dark/starts to rain/the shops close.
If they've got a long way to travel, offer creature comforts to speed the journey. You don't have to lay on a full picnic, but chill some bottles of water in the fridge so they won't get thirsty, and offer bags of sweets or pieces of fruit as a mid-trip snack.
When they finally collect their coats and get ready to walk out, tell them how much you've enjoyed having them to stay - without extending an invitation to return unless you sincerely mean it. Guests from hell will leave feeling like they've had a good time - and you can always be "going on holiday" if they ask to come again…