How To Make Your Home Guest Ready: In Collaboration With Booking.com
When we moved from Berkshire to York four years ago, we knew that it was essential that we find a property that was also suitable for guests. Our family are all based in the South and visit regularly, so we needed a space in our home that would work for this purpose, even if it was just for a fleeting visit. We were lucky enough to find a property with not only an annexe suite within the main house, but also a two storey barn conversion. The ground floor of the barn is a garage and the upper floor was originally kitted out as a gym. Our intention has always been to add a bathroom to this garage room so that it's suitable for extra guests.
Of course, there are multiple ideas how you can leverage additional space. Extra room is practical when having guests, such as family and friends, but can also serve as an independent holiday rental. I believe that letting out your own property, either as a permanent additional income or when you are away on holiday, is something that is well worth considering. You may have plans to redecorate, or ideas for extending - the additional income that can be gained from doing this will help you achieve this aim. Or if you are looking to purchase a second property, then offering it as a holiday home is an excellent way of making sure that you get the most from your investment.
Either way, it's always the aim to make people feel at home when they visit and stay at your place. Whether you are a haven for visiting family and friends, you are renting out your home or a room as a holiday let, or even if you are lucky enough to have a second property, there are plenty of ways that you can create a calm and welcoming atmosphere in your space. Here's how to do it.
It's All About The Atmosphere
One of the nicest things about staying as a guest in someone else's house is that feeling of being spoilt. It's always lovely to be welcomed with a cosy sitting room, complete with blanket throws and candles to be lit when the night draws in. If you have a fire in your home, make sure that there's plenty of logs and kindling available for guests.
Pile books and magazines on the coffee table for some lazy reading and make sure that all the audio and TV controllers are easily accessible, with instructions if necessary. If the weather is cold, make sure you've set the heating and hot water in advance of your guests arriving.
I recently stayed in a boutique Hotel in London that had the radio on low when I entered the room which made it feel really welcoming.
The Extra's That Make A Difference
It's the extra's that make a home stay or rental that little bit more special. Extra towels, pillows and blankets are perfect for updating your guest room and are always appreciated. Make sure there is space to hang and put away clothes, ensuring there are plenty of hangers available and at least one drawer for the use of guests. There's nothing worse than being on a mini break to find that there's nowhere to unpack your luggage.
The bathroom is another place to make a good impression. Toiletries, spare toothbrush and toothpaste and handy extra items such as cotton wool and make up remover wipes make a huge difference and are not expensive to provide. In my own guest room, I hang a bathrobe and a pair of slip on towelling slippers (of the type you get in Hotels, plastic wrapped). And a hot water bottle, of course - we live in Yorkshire and the weather is not always that warm!
These are all items that are equally suited to a holiday home rental and give your property the edge.
In my own guest room, I always prepare a small tray so that guests can make themselves a cup of tea or coffee without feeling that they are intruding into the main house. A tray with a small kettle and a couple of cups is easy to do but really makes a massive difference when you are visiting. I always put a selection of tea bags, coffee, a packet of biscuits and a jug to be filled with milk.
Another nice thing is to put a bottle of water with a glass next to the bed. Really simple and something that we all readily have to hand, but so welcome when you are a guest.
If you are renting a room or your home as a holiday let, it's a great idea to leave a Welcome basket for guests with essentials so that they don't immediately have to whizz to the shops.
Provide Local Information
This is an essential part of having guests. We live in a tourist town and there's plenty to see and do. I have a small table in our guest room with a pile of brochures and local information such as bus routes and timetables, train times, nearest supermarkets and local attractions. You can pick these up from the local Tourist Information Centre (it's all free) and it's always really appreciated when people come to stay.
If your guests have children, it's always useful to make suggestions as to what to do if the weather is bad. Local museums are always a good one to suggest and are a weather proof option.
Include a stack of local take away food menus in case your guests don't feel like cooking. Or even better, investigate local catering companies and see if there is an option to have a guest chef who can prepare a meal on their behalf. This is always popular when you have a large group of people. And of course, a list of local pubs and restaurants is a must - it's worth listing the ones that are children and dog friendly too.
It's a basic one but the WIFI password is always the first thing that guests will ask for when they visit your home. If you are renting out your home as a holiday let, it's worth making sure that your internet connection is strong and reliable as it's a key must have when people are deciding where to stay. It's always the first thing my husband and children ask whenever we book a holiday! Make sure you leave full details of the passwords and how to reset the network if necessary.
An emergency contact sheet is also an essential - make sure they have full details and phone numbers of who to contact in case there's a problem. Show them the location of the electrical trip switch and ensure that your smoke and fire alarms are regularly checked.
And finally? Invest in a beautiful Guest Book so that your guests can write what a fabulous time they have had, plus any suggestions that they can make for future bookings.
I asked Susie Bradley, a local friend who rents out her second property by the sea in Filey as a holiday let for families, what she does to make her property stand out from the crowd. 'We want to exceed our guests expectations. A nice gesture when they arrive is the afternoon tea tray with a variety of tea, coffee, biscuits and cake, all locally sourced from Yorkshire producers. The fire is set and ready and we leave wine and local artisan beers with a Welcome letter. We feel that first impressions are so important and set the scene in any hospitality situation. Hopefully, people feel welcomed and then quickly relax into their holiday. It's the little, extra touches that people remember which make a positive impact.'
If you are looking to rent out your home, Booking.com can help make this experience stress free. With over 20 years of accommodation experience, they are the world's largest accommodation marketplace and their expertise in this field is unrivalled. Guests are no longer looking towards traditional static travel agents - the first move they make is to look online and they want to find and book fast. The Booking.com app means that they can find their dream rental quickly and easily and with 24/7 customer support (in 41 languages), making their holiday happen is an easy process.
We are working towards transforming our garage room into a self contained annexe and the idea of making an extra income from renting it as a holiday let is extremely appealing. The alternative, yet practical option of renting your main home for this same purpose whilst you are away is another option that is well worth considering - the extra income can be reinvested into your property, whether it be for decor improvements or to make additional mortgage payments to pay it off just that little bit earlier. A second property is also the perfect opportunity to capitalise on your finances.
So this year, one of our resolutions is to start thinking about the barn conversion and maybe do a spot of holiday rental ourselves in our own property. And Booking.com will be our first port of call when it comes to looking after our very best interests. Right, I'm off to Pinterest to plan the space!