When I travel, my first choice is to stay at a Bed & Breakfast. I feel so much at home, only better—no cooking or cleaning up after. I don’t even have to make my bed. Best of all, everything I need is at my fingertips. At home, I may be in the shower when I realize I’m out of shampoo or my favorite robe is in the laundry. I might crave a late-night snack and be too tired to go rummaging around for something to eat. And, really, when is the last time I had fresh flowers around? The best B&B proprietors make sure that their guests want for nothing. And that’s exactly what I want for my house guests, so I switch into a “B&B mentality” as I prepare for them. I’m sharing with you some of the ideas I’ve picked up from B&Bs. If you can’t use all of them, no worries. The important thing is that your guests feel special.

Motif name: Europe beige

The Bedroom

Don’t overdecorate the room. Your guests need space to put their things, and they won’t if every square inch is already taken. They also need space in the closet and dresser—all of the space. There are few among us who do not use a guest room for storage. And that’s fine—right up until the time the guests are en route. Then you have to clear out the closet and dresser drawers, except for six or so (empty) hangers in the closet and, perhaps, sachets in the drawers.

A luggage rack is often a very nice surprise for your guests—not many hosts think of that. Most racks fold for easy storage, and there are racks with wooden slats that double as plant stands when they are not taking care of your guests.

If the guest room has not been used for a while, launder the bed clothes. They may have a stale odor, one that you might not notice, but, for sure, your guests will. Provide fresh, crisp sheets and layers of cozy blankets—better too many than not enough if you live in a cold climate. An extra special touch is to have pillows of different sizes and varying firmness to accommodate your guests’ preferences.

Have adequate lighting, whether an overhead light or a floor lamp (or both), of course, but also add adjustable reading lamps on both sides of the bed. And since you have reading lamps, why not provide things to read? Current magazines of different (perhaps unusual) topics and a book of short stories. If your guests are new to the area, definitely a guide book to familiarize them with local places of interest and activities.

Attach an attractively designed “Notice” to the bedroom door with the WiFi password, instructions and pass code if you have a security system, emergency numbers that might be needed and location of the nearest Urgent Care facility.

Motif name: Frankfurt Evening

Next to the Notice is a good place to have a hook with a door key. Nothing says “Mi casa es su casa” than your guests having their own key while visiting.

Motif name: Feng Shui

The Bath

Have fresh towels in various sizes and washcloths neatly rolled. Stress that the fancy hand towels on the towel bar are to be used. (For whatever reason, we feel bad about using such beautiful towels. Which makes our hosts feel bad.)

Place a basket with a small piece of soap and shampoo. On the washbasin you can also provide a toothbrush, for example sustainable from bamboo and toothpaste. This will suit your guests, should somebody forgot something at home. Make sure that there is plenty of toilet tissue—guests hate having to ask. The best hotels provide guests with plush bathrobes and slippers, and so can you! There are affordable robes and slippers that are “one size fits most.”

The Etceteras

A vase of fresh flowers doesn’t have to be an elaborate arrangement. It can be as simple as a small bouquet from the supermarket. It is literally the thought that counts. Even more thoughtful, next to the vase, a brief note of welcome.

A scented candle fills the room with a lovely ambiance and fragrance. Few people carry matches, so have a flameless lighter handy.

If your guests feel hungry late in the evening, prepare a bowl of fruit or, if you prefer, homemade cookies. And to quench your thirst, a carafe of water and glasses helps. Add cucumber and/or lime slices to the water for that special touch and for color.

If your guests are family members or long-time friends, frame a photo or two of you all from the good old days to let them know how much you cherish those times. Have it where it’ll be a surprise for them after they settle in.

Motif name: Kingfisher

As you await your guests, keep in mind that more important than robes, luggage stands, candles and the like, is the time you spend with your guests. That’s the bottom line of being a great host!