With websites like Airbnb making home-run B&Bs an ever more accessible business option, and lifestyle websites giving us endless advice on how to style our rooms to boutique-hotel levels of loveliness, we’re beginning to see the presentation of our homes as a semi-professional skill, and to think harder about the experience guests have when they visit us.
But while Instagram and Pinterest make all those stylists’ homes and attic B&Bs seem effortlessly chic, keeping your home to standards Alex Polizzi would approve takes skill and fine attention to detail.
So here are five places to start: from the best way to clean an oven to honing a unique guest experience, we’ll help you create a home you’ll be proud of for visitors – either friends or paying guests – to see.
Cleaning an oven
If you’re offering your guests food, the state of your oven will be key to their experience. A dirty oven will make food taste bitter and smoky while catching sight of grease and soot in your kitchen could make guests worry about the quality of the meal.
Watch this helpful video on the best way to clean an oven, and make sure yours is always ready to produce tempting treats for your guests.
Imagine your guests climbing gratefully into bed and reaching for the lamp on their bedside table – and finding some surprise treats there as well! A small vase of flowers, a pretty tin with a couple of biscuits, a miniature tube of hand cream – little touches shows your guests you really care about their experience and help make their evening really special.
If they’re people you know, you could select surprises just for them – a couple of books you think they’ll like, or their favourite evening snack.
One of the greatest pleasures of staying in a hotel is sinking into freshly laundered sheets at night, and wrapping yourself in a soft, fluffy towel in the morning. But when you’re running a home B&B without the cash for professional laundry services, or you’re just having friends to stay with, you don’t want to blow the budget on new 400-thread-count Egyptian cotton. Instead, try these tips for keeping towels and sheets fresh and soft and save the pennies.
Finding your signature dish
Most people appreciate a classic fry-up once in a while, but with B&Bs abounding it’s a good idea to add something a bit special to your menu. Start with what you love to eat yourself – do you have a favourite weekend breakfast or a dish your friends and family always ask for? Maybe you have something new to share with your guests, from great vegan or raw cooking to a menu inspired by a favourite holiday destination.
Whatever theme you choose, remember to keep the meal cost-effective and simple to prepare. That way you can treat your guests without denting your purse, and you’ll have more time to spend making them feel special.
A base for adventure
Maybe you can’t spend all day with your visiting friends, or your paying guests are new to the area and want to look around. Why not put together a little guide to where you live? Include suggestions for families, couples and lone travellers, and mark your favourite places so guests feel they’re really getting an insider perspective.
You might have favourite sights around the town, or spots for getting good views, as well as places to eat or things to do. If you’re a B&B beginning to turn over a little more cash, why not set up a voucher system with a local café or gift shop so your guests get some money off while bringing more life to the local area? It’s a great exchange of services that’ll help support more local business owners like you.
From learning the best way to clean an oven to crafting a tailored tour of your town, a little extra effort will make the world of difference to your guests. People will appreciate your putting so much thought into their experience, and their cosy afternoon in the bookshop you recommended, or the scent of the roses you put by their bed will stay with them for a long time.
Paying guests will come back and recommend you to others, and friends will want to return the favour – giving you a night away in your own idea of luxury. And if you fancy taking your home hosting to the next level, there’s plenty of inspiration around so that you can start running your own little home-away-from-home.