How to be a good host: Overnight guests checklist

Catching up with friends or family for drinks and nibbles is welcome fun, but bringing them home gives you even more distraction-free time. And when out-of-town guests prefer to stay with you rather than a hotel, it can lead to an even better connection. If you have a spare room and feel like a host, that’s all you need to be prepared, right? Up your hosting game overnight with a few additions to your home—your guests will thank you (with gifts and future visits).

To find the must-haves of every host, we caught up with some pros to find out how to properly welcome your overnight guests. “Put yourself in your guest’s shoes and try to anticipate what they need before they even ask,” explain Matthew Powell and George Trinovitch, who run the Pentagoet Bed and Breakfast in Castine, Maine. “The little touches are enough – extra toiletries, chargers, maybe a glass of wine or your favorite cocktail waiting on arrival.”

$299 at CB2

Luggage rack made of acrylic and leather

Clutter can be the enemy of relaxation. A luggage rack or bench for unpacking bags and purses helps guests stay organized rather than disrupting their stay, says Bella Manicini of Bella Mancini Design, who designs homes in New York City and the Hamptons and has hosted many guests in her home over the years.

$60 $50.51 at Amazon

Winsome porter

A cheaper version that you can fold up and leave in the closet or toss in the trunk of a car for your own travels.

From $80 at Food52

Mawa Handmade clothes hangers made of beech wood

“Remember to leave your guests empty drawers and an empty closet with lots of hangers,” says Mancini, who loves these handmade beech wood hangers that make a closet a real experience.

$20.24 $17.99 at Amazon

Amazon Basics Slim Hanger

But even simple, sleek hangers will keep your guests from pushing your belongings aside during their own time away from home.

$119.99 at Wayfair

Evan's desk

Especially when working from anywhere, Mancini recommends a small desk for light work or as a washbasin. This one is a bargain and folds up for easy storage in smaller spaces.

$18.99 $12.61 at Amazon

W-Lite 6W LED USB Clip Lamp

This clip light not only keeps your Zoom calls well lit, it’s also handy for reading at night.

Starting at $4.99 at Amazon

Mancini also leaves some light reading recommendations on the bedside table for guests. Some favorites are We Should All Be Feminists, How To Relax, and Bicycle Diaries.

$59.99 at Amazon

NeuType full-length mirror

Guests may want to ensure their weekend look is en pointe with a full-length mirror.

Table of Contents

Toiletries & Linens

From $25.20 at Frontgate

Frontgate Resort Cotton Bath Towel

“Get some big, fluffy, fresh towels,” says Trinovitch. “We want people to feel like they’re wrapped in a cloud, not like they’re struggling to dry their bodies.” We’ve called these the best plush bath towels on the market.

$9 at target

Target Threshold Performance Bath Towel

Fill your linen closet with extra affordable a la carte towels too, like these we’ve dubbed our favorite affordable bath towels.

$10 at target

Threshold 4-Pack Performance Texture Washcloth Set

Extra washcloths are always helpful for quick touch-ups of any kind. Affordable ones ensure you don’t fret about removing your makeup with them.

$34 at Amazon

Malin + Götz starter kit

“When we think of must-haves for a room, we immediately think of Malin + Goetz soaps, shampoos, conditioners and body lotions,” says Powell. “They’re a bit more premium, but they immediately tell your guest that they’re here to have a spa-like experience, even in a small way.” Get ready to revel!”

$32.99 $28.99 at Amazon

Travel convenience set for toiletries

“Don’t forget extra toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash and dental floss,” adds Trinovitch. “From experience, there’s nothing worse than being in an unfamiliar environment and having corns stuck in your teeth…not flossing! The stuff of nightmares.”

From $140 at Bloomingdale’s

Frette Hotel Classic Linen

“Our dream bedding brand has always been Frette,” share the Maine B&B owners and accomplished hosts. “It’s the ultimate in luxury bedding. It makes such a big difference, especially on the first day after the trip when you slip into bed and feel the sheets and think “OMG those sheets!”. And then you slip into a dreamland of sleeping wonders.”

From $119 at LLBean

LLBean duvet set in 280 thread count Pima cotton percale

We’ve called these sheets the absolute best cotton sheets on the market. They’re breathable and fresh, have great temperature regulation throughout the night, and the eyelet hem along the top sheet and pillowcases give these sheets a hotel feel.

From $189 at Parachute

Parachute Line Set

If you are looking for something a little more luxurious, linen bedding is the answer. We voted them the best linen sheets thanks to the ultra-luxe feel and wide range of color options.

$96 at Amazon

Coop Housewares Eden cushion

“A good place to sleep is the most important thing in a guest room,” says Powell. And this one from Coop is definitely a good place to start, as we’ve called it the best pillow out there, as you can adjust its filling to your preferences for height and firmness, making it the best and most versatile pillow we tested.

From $139 at LLBean

LLBean organic cotton blanket

Extra blankets are a must for Powell and Trinovitch, especially in Maine — and it’s fun to keep your supplies on-site (LLBean is a long-time Maine spot).

$129.95 Starting at $119.95 at Amazon

King Koil Luxury Air Mattress

If you don’t have an extra bed, keep a decent air mattress in a closet to improve sleeping on the floor. We voted this mattress the best air mattress of the year thanks to its built-in pump for quick and convenient inflation and a raised pillow that helps mimic the feel of a real bed.

$7.90 $6.92 at Amazon

3M disposable ear tips

Keep earplugs and disposable eye masks (from business class flights or from Amazon) in the drawer next to the guest bed to ensure a good night’s sleep, Mancini says.

$19.99 $9.98 at Amazon

Mavogel sleep eye mask

Our pick for the best sleep mask out there, the Mavogel Cotton Sleep Eye Mask features an ingenious nose wire that blocks all – and we mean all – light. The mask is soft on the eyes and comfortable on the head and does not even move at night, no matter what sleeping position.

$15 at Bed Bath & Beyond

Bee & Willow Home fluted water carafe

Everyone likes a little sip of water before bed, right? Make it easy for your guests with a carafe so they don’t have to get up in the middle of the night and stumble through your kitchen in the dark.

$35 $25.97 at Amazon

Riedel O water glasses

“Your guest rooms need glassware,” Powell recalls. For water, wine, cocktails, whatever! “It’s a perfect opportunity to show off your style with a one-of-a-kind find. We source much of our glassware and tea sets from vintage shops throughout Maine. We love Riedel glasses for wine and water – they are lighter than air.”

$7.79 at Staples

Belkin power strip with 6 outlets

So you can keep your phone/camera/earbuds/laptop/anything electric fully charged.

$149.99 $129.99 at Best Buy

Ultimate Ears Boom 3 Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker with Waterproof/Dustproof Design

“When you can play your own music, it makes you feel at home,” says Powell. “We first found these for our own home use, but they are such excellent speakers that we plan to use them for guest rooms. In a dream scenario, we plan to hide the Bluetooth-enabled speakers in old radio tables. A little old-meets-new moment.”

$12.99 at Amazon

Aioneus iPhone charging cable 4-pack

replacement chargers. Enough said.

$99.99 on Amazon or $100 on Courant

Courant Catch:3 Essentials

Mancini keeps one of these in her guest bedroom at home—even a guest’s cords shouldn’t get tangled up during their stay.

Starting at $15.99 at Amazon

Kind Nut Bars Favorites Variety Pack

If guests are in a hurry to get out of the house in the morning or aren’t people who sit down for breakfast, Powell and Trinovitch leave a few breakfast bars in each room along with a few portable, easy-to-eat snacks. Think of it as a minibar that your guests don’t have to pay extra to explore.

$19.99 $16.99 at Amazon

Happy Hoos Notebook (8 pieces)

“We stayed in a B&B once and each room had its own collection of notebooks filled with memories from previous guests of their time at the inn. It was so personal and beautiful and gave us ideas of what to do in the area. It inspired us to continue the tradition.”

$1.69 at Target

Junior Mints

“Everyone knows the classic mint/chocolate on a pillow when you walk into your room. But we brought a uniquely Maine touch to this tradition,” says Trinovitch. “We work with the bakers at Cape Whoopie (an artisanal whoopie pie bakery in Portland) to make mini whoopettes for our guests’ pillows! It’s perfectly quirky and Maine-y! Such a fun touch adds space and the overall experience to your personality! Your guest won’t forget it.” Choose your own little treat with a personal touch (not with us, a classic is a classic).

$19.90 $18.97 at Amazon

Artisanal inspired dog biscuits by Vita Bone

“We’ve been to inns in the past that offer special treats for dogs: custom pupcones,” say the Maine B&B’s owners, who are dog lovers. “If your guest has a pet, try to include them in the experience as well!”

$20 at Amazon

Wildsam Field Guides Coast of Maine

“We like to put a guidebook and map in our rooms,” says Trinovitch. “Whether you are creating a personalized, handwritten guide to your favorite local spots or buying a book, a guide to the immediate area is so helpful to really enjoy yourself! Plus, as the host, you have the inside information.”

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