Welcome to Armstrong Inn, part one

And now, an abrupt change of subject and mood. A welcome change, a much needed change, a distraction I am fully embracing even though it has the potential to polarize some of you. Because THIS IS SPONSORED CONTENT. I just wrote that. Those words just came out of my mouth. And you know what? That mouth is still clean enough to kiss (the dogs).

A few months ago IKEA approached me and asked if they could help furnish a room in my home, and the one that I needed the most help with was the guest room. Because this is the first time I’ve ever owned a place with a spare room that I can dedicate to friends from out of town. So. If you have a problem with sponsored content, that’s fine. You are entitled to those feelings and we can still be friends. But I probably won’t let you sleep in my awesome new guest room.

You get the couch. And when you’re asleep I might write on your forehead with permanent marker. KIDDING. I’d just use a pencil.

I’ve read countless articles in home decor magazines about guest rooms and the amenities that make guests feel welcome and most at ease. But I never really paid any attention because I wasn’t ever going to have a room — a whole freaking room (sorry, that Mormon curse word just popped into my brain out of nowhere [FLIPPIN, FETCHIN, HECK!]) — where at the foot of the bed I could put out two plush towels topped with a box of chocolates for when the President decided to drop by. Because he and I are buddies, you knew that right? I wore purple tights while sitting twenty feet away from him and now I’m in his will.

In the past I’ve always had to make sure that the cushions on the couch were free of stray coins and gummy bears. Or that the blow-up mattress didn’t have a hole through which it would empty all night long like a hissing possum. And when my guests woke up with a backache I’d get out the bottle of ibuprofen, hand them a glass of water and say, “I promise not to blog about your bed head.”

Because I am a giver.

Throughout my travels as A Professional Writer About My Feelings, I’ve stayed in hotel rooms that ranged from luxurious to WHAT THE HELL IS THAT STAIN ON THE PILLOW (blood? bodily fluid? AXE deodorant?!?!?!?!). So I’m trying to pull from those experiences to make this room a true gem, a place where my friends (Barack) can rest in the most comfortable atmosphere possible. And so I want to know what your experiences have been. Have you ever stayed in a guest room that you wanted to take home? Was it the thread count on the sheets? The hand towels? The complimentary foot rub?

So many of you have recently reached out and said I could crash at your place if I ever needed it, so many strangers offering me a place to put my head. Because of that I want to show you this whole process so that if any of you needed a place to stay (after I performed a background check and made sure you weren’t a felon or intended to steal Chuck or had ever been known to sleep walk in the nude) you, too, would have a place to rest your head. Is that cheesy? I don’t care. As cheesy as the plate of charcuterie and imported Champignon Brie I’ll have waiting for you when you walk in and drop your luggage. First you’ll have to acknowledge Coco, though. She’ll have jumped up and wrapped herself around your neck while screeching at an octave likely to cause head trauma.

I also wanted you guys to know that Jon is working on this project with me. He’ll be doing all the video work, so we’re honing our skills when it comes to collaboration. It’s a good thing.

So. What makes you feel most at home?


This post is brought to you by IKEA and THIS IS THE OFFICIAL DISCLOSURE, WHAT UP, FTC!

  • cateyb

    I’m sure someone has already mentioned everything I could think of, but I love having flowers in the bedroom. Even one little daisy in a bud vase. Having something alive and fresh smelling is such a nice touch.
    I can’t wait to see what you and IKEA come up with!!

  • afrazier

    I prefer guest rooms that don’t come off as “guest rooms”, meaning the room should meet basic needs but not be a room that my host wouldn’t live in himself/herself. Beside a comfy bed (without crazy throw pillows, although I agree plenty of pillows are a must) and a nightstand/bedside table, I think a bookshelf w/books and knickknacks is all it might need. I always travel with books, but I know many guests would appreciate reading options. A comfy chair for reading said books would also be nice. Most importantly, though, design a guest room you would want to stay in, and I’m sure your guests will be thrilled. :)

  • nroliver

    I love you Dooce! You do whatever you need to to feel better.

    I can give you some guest room don’ts:

    1) Don’t over fragrance the sheets/bedding with fabric softener. My mom once stayed awake most of the night in my guest room, gagging on the smell of too much downy.

    2) Don’t use anything rickety above the bed (picture frames, shelves) that might make someone too nervous to sleep under.

    3) Don’t fill up all the spaces with your own junk. Leave them space on the shelves, in the closet, to unpack.

    And maybe give them some way to block sound from the munchkins… a noise machine or ear plugs.


  • Tootsie Farklepants

    I often have trouble sleeping in any bed that isn’t mine, so a tv would be nice. Nothing big and fancy. Also a dim night-light in case the need to get up in the middle of the night arises. I am super clumsy and have trouble navigating unfamiliar territory in the dark without taking out a shin or ankle bone (why does hitting the ankle bone hurt so damn much?). Also, I appreciate the gesture of one putting out their best towels for guests to use but I’m always afraid of ruining them with my make up or something so I’m fine with the shabby towels.

  • bawb23

    As someone who travels almost every week, I feel that I truly know what makes a room comfortable and welcoming. Besides comfort and simplicity, I think lighting is the most important element. If the room has natural light, it’s great – but since it might be serving as a bedroom the window blinds will likely be drawn tight.

    The lighting in the room is critical to complement the decor and provide useful but not glaring illumination. I like a combination of halogen track lighting and (gasp) incandescent floor or bedside lamps to provide both enough photons and warmth while not overpowering the eyeballs.

    Compact fluorescent lamps are just too harsh, and some of the fancy ones that claim to do a better job tend to alter colors in odd ways. There should be a comfortable place set up to read a Kindle (via reflected light), and a comfortable place set up to read a laptop (back-lit screen). It’s tough to make a spot suitable for both.

  • spaceranger

    It’s already been said, but I just spent a good 20 minutes figuring out how to log in so that I could say this–blackout curtains please! Pretty pretty please. I am sooooooooo much more likely to get enough sleep to allow me to be friendly (without hurculean effort) while I’m visiting you if you have blackout curtains. This was true for me long before having a baby, but now that I have one, it is true times one thousand. (Obviously if she doesn’t sleep well, neither do I–and DARK helps her sleep well in strange places too.) My mom has two lovely bedrooms appropriate for guests, but I have always (even before having a kiddo) insisted on sleeping in the partially finished basement on a big fat air matress because it is so blissfully dark down there that we can all be reasonably assured I will emerge in the morning (probably very late morning) well-rested and pleasant to be around. (Ditto for kiddo.) It really does make a huge difference for me. I also adore sound machines. (Since having a kid I always travel with one, but most people don’t.) Also, lots of down-filled bed-things can make even an airmatress seem cozy and inviting. And the last thing might be asking a bit much, but this also makes a big difference to me–some sort of comfortable chair that rocks. My soon-to-be-toddler sometimes doesn’t sleep so well away from home and it is soooooooooooooo nice to be able to sit somewhere that is comfy for me and rock her (instead of pacing while holding her, or trying to rock her while sitting on a bed). And though I never did pine for a place to sit and rock before having a baby, I always have found rocking to be pleasant and peaceful–I’d be willing to bet that guests without kiddos would enjoy it too.

  • Tracye

    I have a thing about sleeping over other people’s houses so having said that…I am a fragrance freak. It should smell clean, fresh flowers are a nice touch as well.

    Crisp sheets and a bed with plenty of plush pillows NOT in one color. I say mix it up with the pillow color a bit.

    A nice comforter is always nice, a throw also because there’s a comfy chair in the corner just in case there’s a book or magazine that needs reading.

    Plush towels that are only for the guest room, soaps and oils that are only for the guest room.

    I think that about covers it…

    Ooooh! And a door tassel. I know it sounds corny but a door tassel :)

    Have fun! Decorating is always so much fun.

  • bethmolnar

    A Bose docking station for your ipod or iphone. It is so great to have a place to play your tunes!

  • TxSuzyQ

    Definitely lots of pillows! I would imagine that everyone has their own preferences as to the type of bed they prefer, but I like a nice soft bed. Not necessarily one that conforms around me like a foam topper, but one with some “give”. Given that we all like what we like, I am going to suggest one of those Sleep Number beds! To me, a comfy bed is the most important thing. If I know someone is going to put me in the same crappy bed they did the last time, I will likely give a good excuse to avoid staying.

    I’m fairly easy to please, though. A bed has to be pretty damned crappy [extremely hard!] for me to lose sleep.

    A television – In case I can’t fall asleep right away.

    Snacks! – I hate it when I get hungry and feel that I cannot rummage through the pantry or fridge and just have to lay there and starve until morning. Something savory and something sweet would be ideal, but truth be known, I would be satisfied with some dry-ass saltine crackers!

    Ice cold bottled water – Toss that in and I’ll put you in my will.

    My only other suggestions would be a well lit, comfy place to read and, of course, wifi!

  • Knittingfrog

    Must be a European thing, but a small kettle and a selection of teas (herbal for evening)and a couple of nice big mugs are lovely to have in the room, and some inexpensive slippers are also a nice touch.
    Maybe a pillow spray too, or simple lavander oil for some sweet sweet dreams.

    As for the rest, they already said it all :)

    But for the record, my parents always put a good quality wrapped chocolate on the bedside table…worth it for my husband’s big grin every time!!

  • Bambam

    Best thing I ever experienced was in a lovely country house hotel (Devonshire Arms, Yorkshire – UK).

    Floor level lighting in the en-suite that was movement activated. So when you stumbled around your lovely, yet unfamiliar surroundings, bladder fit to burst, at 3am, you could see where you were going without a) groping for a light-switch or b) being blinded by full-on overhead lighting. GENIUS.

    So good was it that I signed up last night just in order that I could share it.

    stepping back into the shadows now…

  • gcostaki

    A mirror with a pile of cocaine on it.


  • edgyveggie

    Plenty of pillows, an extra blanket or alternatively lighter one on the foot of the bed, guest amenities clearly set out, and a bookshelf with a nice variety. I know I usually have trouble falling asleep the first night at others’ houses, so a nice selection of classics, children’s books, or even technical references is nice to lull me to sleep.

    Not related, but here’s something for your day:

  • anitaped

    Gripes from guest rooms in friends/family’s houses: Please have down-alternative pillows available for people with allergies (like me), and please have room in the closet (and hangers!) for me to hang up my clothes. And one thing that I always remember from the best hotel I’ve ever stayed in – an extremely comfortable mattress. Better than an IKEA mattress, sorry IKEA!

  • Jan

    Sound machine. (even better, something I saw once and never again, the most wonderfully tackly actual waterfall with optional colored lights as well as the sounds — waves, thunder, night noises, etc.)

    Lots of soft throws and wraps. I have great ones from Ikea, including one that is white, and all thick and buttery.

    Little rugs for color and texture. Again, mine are from Ikea — tribal rugs, sheepskins.

    Comfy reading chair, light, footstool and lots of books. Love Ikea’s floor lamps that have lots of little lights on moveable arms like a standing chandelier.

    Private access to toilet/bathroom if possible.

    Good mattress.

  • megrit411

    Bedside lamps! I’m a nighttime reader and I hate having to leave the overhead light on to read. And lots of pillows. Not the decorative kind, but the real kind because my husband snores if his head isn’t fully supported and believe me you do not want that!
    Good luck! (With the project and the collaboration…you can do this!)

  • addie877

    One more thought from me…

    I’ve been assuming your guest would be a single or couple of adults, but what about those with kiddos?

    Not sure about how big your space is, but I always feel more comfortable with my kids sleeping close, if not in the same room when I’m visiting others, especially our family/friends who have larger homes. (regardless of whether there are other kids in the house) So an area, even on the floor, where they could crash.

    How about a fun activity box with books, puzzles, ect for quiet times…

    Night light!

    …and another thought, you don’t want your guests having EVERYTHING they need, otherwise they might not come out of the room the whole time they are there :)

    Also maybe a sweatshirt/light jacket. I don’t know how many times we go somewhere thinking the weather is going to be warm, but we freeze our asses off when we take a morning/evening walk!

  • dianemaggipintovoiceover

    not sure anyone has mentioned **having** an extra room, to have a guest room? that’d be nice.

    and i’d be sure to include way high thread count sheets.

    hope it’s not awkward or weird or anything working with jon.

  • CMamaBear

    hm. what are my favorite guest bedroom things?

    first, and most expensive, but most important, is the GOOD MATTRESS. by the time we can afford to have a “guest bedroom,” we’re getting older, and so are our friend/relations, and we all have bad backs, and need a good mattress. if you can manage that, you’re gold.

    extra pillows. extra towels. i don’t want to have to ask for more if i drop one in the tub or use it to clean up something i shouldn’t have had in the Guest Room.

    My mom used to keep a basket of NIP toiletries in her Guest Room, which is a very nice touch, as most of us forget something just about every trip, and all of us do sometimes. toothbrushes, toothpaste, travel size anything.

    other folks have mentioned the mirror and the robe. the last suggestion i would give is the Water Bottle and/or coaster on the night stand so we don’t ruin your nice new Guest Furniture with our glass. i have to have water by the bed; the husband doesn’t care. either way, it’s nice to not worry about the Nice Furniture.

    are you booked up for spring ’13? because that’s the next time i’ll be traveling. and i’ll be in utah! well, maybe not then, but soon enough.

  • harboredinca

    YES! I was hoping others would say good sheets, down comforter (the ones that Sheridan Hotels have are nice) and the “good” pillows with removeable, washable pillow covers under the cases…nice touch. Outlets and nightstands on both sides!! Coasters & glasses. And finally..night lights in the bathroom!!

  • uvula_envy

    I have read most, if not all of the comments, and I didn’t see this suggested.

    May I suggest darker sheets and comforter? I have a friend who adores white everything. ADORES IT. Whenever I stay at his house, I am afraid I am going to stain stuff. It may be irrational, but I can never get comfortable thinking I might ruin anything. And if it is that time of the month, quadruple the paranoia.

  • apostate

    Earplugs. When DH and I were staying at SLC’s other Armstrong Inn a few years ago, the morning traffic on 7th east was nearly unbearable to the point that I had to wake up and drive to the nearest grocery store, [Not Fred Meyer, though I will always call it that], and buy some earplugs. Unless you have an ultra quiet house, I think it would be good to have a stash of earplugs for guests who are noise sensitive.

  • Funnygirl78

    Walking downstairs in the morning to find a pot of coffee and folks already sitting around the table conversing.

  • jan001

    I like feeling like a welcome guest, but not like A Guest. I’m not comfortable in guest rooms that look like everything’s been arranged “just so”. It should feel homey, not hotel-y or like the people from Architectural Digest are due any minute.

    No feather/down pillows, please (allergic – found that out the hard way – $$).

    A friendly cat or dog (reasonably clean) or three who will hop up on the bed and sleep with me or at least let me pet them.

    A sound conditioner is a nice touch, although many people now have those on their phones. Still, it’s a sign of thoughtfulness.

    A television with basic cable. It literally helps me fall asleep in a strange place sometimes, no lie.

    I’ve stayed in two guest rooms on different occasions where the hosts included a little basket full of hotel-size/travel-size toiletries – shampoo, hand lotion, etc. – to pick and choose whatever I wanted. That was so sweet.

    An electric outlet near the bed for my laptop, and access to the internet please.

    I don’t drink coffee but would always appreciate a bottle of water.

    A hair dryer is a nice convenience, so I don’t have to shlep that big thing in my luggage.

    In return, I promise to:
    …Stay out of the “common areas” of the house until I know my hosts are up and about.
    …Wipe down the sink and/or shower whenever I use them, even if it’s “my” bathroom and not one shared by the family.
    …Make the bed each morning and hang up my towels any time I use them.
    …Not help myself to anything in the kitchen, no matter how convincingly I’m told to do so.
    …Strip the bed on my last morning, and put all the dirty sheets into one of the pillow cases — or wash and fold them myself if there’s time to do laundry.
    …Leave things as much like I found them as I can, short of sketching a map upon arrival.

    For the record, I don’t object to the sponsored content. In fact, please tell the Ikea people that here in my city we are desperately hoping the rumor of an Ikea coming here turns out to be true!

  • karakeet

    What would make me feel most at home in a hotel or someone’s guest room?

    Books. A little bookshelf filled with well-loved paperbacks. The kind of books that say things like “It is totally okay to take me into the bathroom to read while you are pooping”, or “go ahead, read me while you take a bubble bath…it doesn’t matter if I get wet”, or “read me while you fall asleep… who cares if you fall asleep halfway through a page and drop me on the floor?”.

    Yes, I confess, I am a Reader.

    When I was staying in a guesthouse in the Caribbean as a college kid, the owner of the house had set up a bookshelf full of paperbacks like that, with a message that the guest should feel free to leave books that they had finished and loved, and take books that they couldn’t bear to put back down away with them. I thought that it was the greatest thing ever.

  • honeyedhashette

    a comfy mattress that begs you to sleep just one more hour
    crisp soft linens that smell like clean laundry
    harmonious, relaxing colors
    plenty of blankets for when it’s cold
    a small fan for when it’s warm
    a lamp or two
    plenty of books to read if guests can’t sleep
    several options for pillow fluff content (some like firm, some like downy, some like flat, some like all of the above combined into one comfy bed)
    if a private bath is not an option for the guestroom, a basket loaded with every possible need- shampoo, conditioner, soaps, body washes, lotion, razors, shower cap, hair ties, new toothbrushes, toothpaste, hair dryer, brush- I always try to throw a few special items that your guest might not buy for themselves so the experience is memorable
    fluffy towels, washcloths, hand towels
    bathrobe or two
    a vase with fresh flowers when guests visit
    a simple alarm clock that doesn’t take a degree in rocket science to set
    as an interior designer I appreciate art, prints and pops of color and mesh well with the harmonious color palette.

  • Laprewitt1

    I love baskets. They intrigue me and are a pleasant surprise. Most of them have bottled water, snacks, and just other knick knacks that make your stay comfortable.

  • amydronen

    For some reason, white bedding makes me feel special. probably because at my house, crayon wielding children and a dog that sheds entire puppies daily means I have to settle for brown or patterns.
    White feels like a luxury hotel.
    Also…if the guest room doesn’t have an adjoining bathroom (the horror!), a mirror in the bedroom is fantastic. Then you don’t feel as if you are hogging the bathroom when drying your hair, putting on any of your 7 facial creams, or magnifying the pores on your face.
    simple, clean, uncluttered, and warm!

  • annalitchka

    I always crave a fan on me while I’m sleeping. A fan and maybe also a small cube heater in the closet would be so nice, just for those who are too cold… and a lovely knit shawl or lap blanket, something very very soft and light, again for those who crave a little more warmth or snuggliness. And I TOTALLY AGREE about the pillows. Maybe make them down-alternative for allergy sufferers, maybe one really harder one and/or a body pillow.
    Oh, and a basket of snicker-snacks, some little packets of dried fruit and granola bars and cookies and nuts and hard candy, maybe some fresh fruit too. For the non-paleos among us. Of course, that might be hard with Marlo possibly raiding the basket!

  • JBW

    I definitely agree with all the previous posters about lots of pillows, extra blankets or a fan if it’s hot, a mirror, and a hair dryer. Access to toiletries is always a treat. Also, plenty of extra toilet paper easily accessible in the guest bath! I also want to add that I prefer rooms that are:

    1) A pet-free zone. I am REALLY not a pet person. I don’t mind going to people’s homes with pets and I am happy to love on the pets in public spaces, but to be comfortable, I need to feel like I can close the door and have my own space that is free from pet hair and things.

    2) A fragrance-free zone. As nice as it is to make a room smell fresh and lovely with essential oils or candles, they almost always give me migraines. It makes me feel rude when I have to ask my host if I can move a scented object to another part of the house, but I get pretty sick if I don’t.

    Can’t wait to see how your room turns out! I’m sure it’s going to be lovely and cozy!

  • tiny apple

    it’s not what makes the guest room feel like home, it’s what makes it NOT feel like home. so instead of three week old sheets, a pile or six of laundry, shoes all over the floor, and a complete lack of decor, i’ll take any room with something pretty on the walls and windows, crisp clean sheets, and a laundry service.

    (happy to hear you happy and that you and jon are tackling this project together).

  • DeeBee6

    There are alot of good suggestions here already.
    My personal tips would be (in order of priority):

    First priority is a comfortable bed. Not too hard and not too soft. Ikea is not widely known for their comfortable beds, but they’re decent.

    COMFORTER! A comforter is the ultimate bedding. Warm and cozy in winter when it wraps your body, soothing and soft in summer when you wrap around it.

    Lots of pillows is also a must.

    Electrical outlets (more than two is extra nice) by the bedstands.

    Someone recommended white sheets – not too common in a home, and it does get that extra luxurious feeling.

    A TV for the drowzy minutes before sleep.

    A comfortable chair and table, if the room is large enough.

    AND NOT TO FORGET: Ask Ikea to assemble the furniture for you :D
    (although we could get some interesting blogs in the future if you have to do it yourself)

    Best of luck!

  • hardunderground

    A clock is a must-have, but absolutely not of the ticking variety!

  • JBW

    I also gotta add designated space to hang up a wet towel, either in the guest bathroom or in the bedroom somewhere. I hate having to hang my towel on the shower rod or over a door somewhere–it feels like I’m taking over. A nice hook or extra towel rack goes a long way in making people feel like they have space in your home. Along the same lines, some space in the bathroom where the guests’ toiletries can go. I don’t have to unpack all my stuff, but it is nice to leave my makeup, hairbrush, and facewash in the bathroom so I don’t forget it in my early morning fog!

  • momof8

    Crisp white sheets, lots of pillows, and a fruit and chocolate bowl. If you want to stay at my house, I’ll do the same for you!

  • jan001

    Seconding the ideas of:

    1. A fan, especially a ceiling fan. A ceiling fan is great as long as the controls are easy to reach.

    2. No “smell-pretty” (as my mom used to say) stuff — candles, potpourri, incense, air fresheners, etc. People’s ideas of what smells nice are so personal. For instance, sweet/fruit/floral scents can almost make me gag.

    Actually my favorite indoor scents are patchouli and cedar (separately) and I also like light “new-mown-grassy” crisp-light-fresh scents (but OMG, the detergent my boss does her laundry in has such a strong “soap” smell it hits you in the head from 5′ away). Naturally no way would I ever burn incense of any kind in someone else’s home, and I’d refrain from burning it in my home while I had a houseguest.

    Another thing: I don’t drink coffee but have it in the house if I have guests. The smell of strong coffee is nearly enough to make me retch — how do people drink that stuff? — but I deal with it at work and would certainly deal with it at home if my guests want some, if they’re okay with instant. I guess I draw the line at buying and storing an appliance I’d never use for myself, when there’s an alternative.

  • the sooz

    Make it so the room doesn’t sound like you’re in a tunnel. Ikea furniture, from what I recall, is mostly hard surfaces and with hardwood floors, though pretty, is pretty noisy. A nice cushy rug on the floor helps as do curtains..preferably sun blocking. A soft shaded lamp and a small flashlight on the bedside table would be nice, too. I usually bring my own flashlight, but it’d be nice, just in case. A pile of magazines to look through while trying to get to sleep is a nice extra in case I forget my kindle or a book. (I think one medium firm latex pillow should be available for those of us who like a little bouncey support while we read and/or sleep would be nice…well, for me anyway!) I hope we’re up laughing and talking while drinking wine most of the night so I will just fall into bed without needing all those comforts; I really hope to not spend a lot of time in the room!

  • becky

    My aunt does this thing where her extra room has a notebook/guestbook. I always enjoy reading through past guests’ entries. I know I never have to leave a note, but expressing my gratitude makes me feel a more welcome guest.

  • AmandaB

    A gripe that stems from every hotel I’ve ever stayed in: make sure the alarm clock is simple enough that Coco could use it.

    I don’t think I’ve ever actually stayed in a guest room except for at my grandparents’ house so my advice is don’t store all the moth balls in the free world in the guest room closet. And not everyone needs a 2,000-watt nightlight to avoid breaking a hip during a midnight trek to the bathroom.

    That’s all I got…

  • Aprilisin

    When you live at the beach, you don’t want the guest room too comfy because they WILL stay…ack. BUT they get to use the awesome outside shower and drink awesome cocktails and eat very very well…

    I had the whole tolietries thing going and nobody ever used them…

  • inthesky

    Whiskey! But for real… A nice big ol’ mirror. You know how many times I had to do hair, make-up, and get pretty using some teeny tiny mirror I packed? Too many times. I’m polite and hate hogging the bathroom mirror, but I’m also vain as hell and I don’t want to look like a hipster version of Baby Jane.

  • jesslikewhoah

    Usually something small, like my husbands smile. Or the little squeeze he gives just before he lets go from a hug.
    Sometimes, it’s okay to take a step back and look at the little things, that no one really thinks about.
    But I also like oversized soft blankets and I hate dirty dishes in the sink. :) Maybe we’ll stop by on our way to the West coast!

  • dianaparkhouse

    One of the best rooms I ever stayed in was dark (blackout curtains)and warm (central heating) and private (top of the house (loft)). It did not have an en-suite, though (that would have made it perfect).
    Rooms that do not have any of the hosts stuff in. None of their books, none of their photos. Rooms with their things in make you feel like you are an imposition.

  • EliBailey

    I think my favorite guest room experience was when I stayed with my brother and his wife several years ago. They had a beautifully decorated guest room with its own bathroom. The bed was super comfy; plenty of pillows and super soft sheets, blankets and a massive comforter, and the bathroom already had everything I needed in it – plenty of towels, soap, shampoo, hair dryer . . . it was like staying in a hotel but way more warm and homey. This was not too long after my ex-husband and I had separated, and I was sort of homeless and trying to figure out what to do. Everything in that room felt good, smelled good, and I didn’t have to ask for anything. I think that’s the key – make it so they don’t have to ask for anything. I seriously wanted to live there.

  • dianaparkhouse

    Oh, and a big comfy chair and a good mattress, and a choice of lots of pillows. DO NOT SCROOGE ON THE PILLOWS.

  • lilithevie

    Best thing ever in a friend’s guest room — a basket with essentials and house information. The basket had chapstick, hand lotion, shampoo, toothpaste, ear plugs, chocolate, face wash, etc. It also had a card with key information like the wireless password, information about the alarm, where an extra blanket was, etc. Next to the basket, a carafe of water and a cup. Perfection.

  • squirrelgirl22

    Make sure that there are electrical outlets–or a power strip with an extension cord–near to the bedside table.

    In my home, I have my phone charger on my bedside table and I love when I travel not to have to keep my phone across the room simply because that’s where the accessible outlets are.

    And on a squishier note, an extra bed pillow or two in the closet! It’s never fun for a multi-pillow sleeper like me to try to use a couch cushion as a second bed pillow.

  • cactuswren


    I am a freak who can’t sleep unless I am super comfortable, so the most important thing to me is that the bed be (a) big enough (b) reasonably soft and (c) have extra pillows that I can hug/use as a body pillow. I CANNOT STRESS ENOUGH THE IMPORTANCE OF EXTRA PILLOWS.

    Otherwise, my favorite guest room ever was in this tiny little upstairs nook at my aunt’s house, and there was literally just enough room to walk around the bed, but it was so cushy and welcoming, with a nice dimmable floor lamp and super cozy bed, I swear I could have just moved in forever.

    I wouldn’t have thought of suggesting the mirror, but that is a totally good point too, @inthesky

  • dooce

    These are excellent suggestions, you guys. A lot that I haven’t thought about.

  • Beth Powanda Shady

    What makes me feel at home while traveling is bringing something from my home that I find peaceful and comforting. Since I live by the ocean, I like to bring a piece of it with me. That is my SeaweedArt- greeting cards and prints created from my pressed seaweed collages. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/seaweedart/seaweedart