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What makes a good host?

Posted in Style & Travel

The benefit of living in a location chosen by many for their vacations is that, when I am at home, it feels a bit exotic, a bit like being on holiday. My friends and family from all over the world agree. Which means that my house, in Summer, and sometimes at Christmas, doubles up as a bed and breakfast, albeit at no charge.

I do love having houseguests: many are repeat “clients” but I make it very clear, upon extending my hospitality or accepting their “bookings” that they need to be independent. I don’t live anywhere near public transportation so they must rent a car (Uber is not much of an option up the canyons). There will be times I will be glad to do things together but, by and large, tourist sites are their own to explore – I can provide information, links and even a map because there is no better way to understand the topography of Los Angeles than to look at an actual map but insisting I go walking down Hollywood Boulevard for the millionth time is not going to entice me.

We previously wrote about what makes a good house guest: independence, contributing to the groceries and to keeping the house tidy and being respectful of the fact that, while we live by the ocean, we do need to work and go about our business. But what makes a good host?

Over the years, I have come up with a list that is extended to all who comes to visit:

  • If at all possible, I will pick up my guests  from the airport and drive them to the car rental offices, especially if it is their first time here. Los Angeles, starting from the airport, can be overwhelming on first impact. Finding my house while jet lagged does not improve matters.
  • I will always have a nice meal ready for their first night here, possibly including cake. On subsequent evenings, I expect to either cook together, go out sometimes and to provide two to three more meals for my guests. Those with proven kitchen abilities will be put to work.
  • Before my guests arrive, I always ask what they are interested in doing while here so I can prepare some starting material and itineraries when they arrive. I am a minefield of suggestions for out-of-the-way sights and more unusual locations which I am happy to share.
  • Obviously, their room will be ready with extra blankets, a vase of flowers, a jug and glasses for water, an empty closet and plenty of towels.
  • In the bathroom, I leave some travel size samples of soap and shampoo.
  • Because many of my guests are from overseas, I keep electrical converters handy.
  • Besides a map, the welcome packet includes their own house key and the internet password.
  • I always ask before they arrive what they eat for breakfast so I can have their favorite or usual foods and drinks ready. On Sunday, we will always make an American breakfast, much to the delight of the Italians, who don’t often eat pancakes, French toast or egg in a basket.
  • Before they arrive, I also ask if there are any restaurants they want to visit – some cannot be reserved online and it’s much easier for me to do it.
  • After making sure I am around for the first day, they are on their own. Guests are free to come and go as they please and we will interact as our schedules allow. Usually, once this is well understood, it is all smooth sailing.

One last thing – they must love dogs.

Fish and visitors … they’ve got three days.

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  1. Mi piacerebbe moltissimo essere tua ospite

    August 6, 2017
    • Se passi da Los Angeles….quando vengo a Milano ci vediamo pero’ per un caffe’

      August 8, 2017
      • Certo” Non mi sono dimenticata. Purtroppo al momento LA e tutta quella roba laggiù non è in programma

        August 10, 2017
  2. Your rules for guests very much mirror mine in Beijing. I have better things to do than go round The Forbidden City, or out to The Great Wall for the umpteenth time. I have a huge stack of guide books, maps etc and also an old but functional cell phone with a Chinese chip which they can take in case they need to phone for help! I supply them with cards written in Chinese instructing a taxi driver* to bring them back to our apartment building. My dear spouse shows them how the metro works. I provide (some) meals, have cold white wine on standby etc. and we will eat out a couple of times. I will book Chinese Opera tickets if that takes their fancy.
    If they are interested in food I will take them with me to the market I shop at for fish/meat/fruit/veggies etc – it is always a talking point with visitors when they see what is being sold.

    *regulated taxis are very cheap and everywhere, no need to use Uber; and to hire a car in Beijing would be practically suicidal!!

    July 22, 2017
  3. I love your rules and way of receiving guests. It’s great when one is given independence as well as some time together. As someone who lived in a Summer touristic area for a few years, I know all about having lots of people around and have a good set of rules makes everything go much smoother. As for the dogs, I can’t imagine you ever letting someone stay in your place if your guest doesn’t at the very least be respectful of their presence.

    July 18, 2017
    • I am so obsessive there was a time, when I lived in an apartment, that I had the “rules” written down!

      July 19, 2017
      • Having them written down for guests to read is a good way to ensure they get followed 😁

        July 21, 2017
  4. All great rules for hosts and guests. Whenever I’m a guest, there’s nothing more frustrating to be smothered upon visiting friends or family even when you adore them. It’s nice to know some hosts offer guests the responsibility for being on their own.

    July 18, 2017
  5. Winston Moreton
    Winston Moreton

    Great bottom line

    July 18, 2017
    • I will never lock up the doggies for anyone. It’s their house as much as mine.

      July 18, 2017

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