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?
- 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.