Hosting tips: Creating a great experience for your guests

How to be host 02b

The good news about hosting is that once you have the basics organised, your experience will be anything but a chore. Here's a quick check list on to create a great experience for your guests and keep things as simple and seamless for you both.

The Basics

Unless you plan to be at home all day and night, it's a good idea to have a spare key ready for your guest so that they can come and go without relying on you to be there to let them in. Remember to explain any house rules to your guests, including how to lock up after themselves, to ensure they understand what they can and can't do in your home.

Prepare fresh towels and bed linen for them before they arrive. A light breakfast is included in the price for all guests so let your guests know how and when you'll provide it. If your guests have access to household appliances such as the kitchen, washing facilities or Wifi, have instructions or passwords ready for them.

Local Information

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Think about all of the things that you'd like to know if you were arriving to a new place for the first time. One example is transport facilities in the area, such as bus and train routes, fares, transport links to and from the city centre, closest airport or train station.

Think of what amenities or facilities are near your home that your guests might want to find, such as supermarkets, somewhere to go for a bite to eat or a drink, and local landmarks such as parks or recreation centres.

Arrival and Departure

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Check with your guest what time they'll arrive and depart. If you won't be home when they arrive, make arrangements with them so they can access your home, for example, leave a spare key with a neighbour or arrange a meeting time and place with them that will be easy for a newcomer to your area to find. Similarly, when your guests are leaving, make sure they know where to leave their keys or any other items they may have used during their stay. If they are leaving early in the morning or late at night, help them with the timetables for transport or give them the number of a taxi company.

Once your guest arrives

Guests book for various reasons: some are on holiday, others are travelling for work or study and some want to learn a new language. Communicate with your guests via email before they arrive to find out a bit about each other such as interests and hobbies. The best homestay experiences are those where the host and guest enjoy meeting each other.

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Spend a little time getting to know your guest over a coffee when they arrive, or perhaps you could even share a meal or a glass of wine together one evening. Offer to show them local sights if you have the time. They may be pretty independent and happy to explore, but it's nice to offer. The personal touch is really what a homestay is all about. A tour of your home when they arrive and some time for them to ask you any questions makes all the difference when you are new to a city.

By Mary Plunkett – in Hosts

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