With the addition of a few niceties, your spare bedroom will be as inviting to visitors as a fine hotel room. Set out essentials such as towels and an alarm clock, then provide little luxuries as well: bottles of water, foil-wrapped chocolates, and a few cut blooms in a vase.
Towels with a Special Touch
Keep sets of guest towels together, bound with twill tape or ribbon. When visitors arrive, just transfer a stack from linen closet to guest bedroom.
Chilled Bottle Service
Give your overnight guests the five-star treatment by setting chilled spring water on their nightstand. Choose a vessel, such as a vase or a large julep cup, that is deep enough to accommodate a small bottle and ice. Place a saucer underneath to collect the condensation and protect the surface of the table.
In a strange room, comfort and space are more soothing than a clutter of unfamiliar things. On a bedside table, place a single flower bloom in a simple glass, a nice clock, and a selection of books suited to your guests' tastes.
Space permitting, set up a comfortable chair or settee with a pillow and throw, an adjacent table, and a good adjustable-brightness lamp in the room your guests will be staying in. Assemble a small personal library, including some magazines and a daily newspaper (useful for local listings like concerts). A radio for morning news and quiet evening listening is a thoughtful addition; you might also include a portable CD player with a selection of music.
Closets and Drawers
Make sure there is adequate closet and drawer space. Supply a variety of hangers -- at least a dozen good wooden or metal ones -- that will hold trousers and jackets, flimsy dresses, and heavy coats. And make certain there is a full-length mirror.
Outfit the Bed
Make up a double bed with four ample sleeping pillows -- two medium or firm, and two soft -- as well as two smaller pillows to prop up the head when reading. Use cotton or linen sheets, starched and ironed for hotel crispness. Provide both light and heavy blankets, as well as a lightweight throw for afternoon naps.
Provide a small desk or a cleared tabletop, and stock it with pens and paper, note cards, envelopes, and stamps. Compile a list of some favorite local places -- restaurants, cafes, museums, antiques shops, movie theaters -- and provide timetables, if appropriate, for buses, ferries, or trains. A telephone in the room is a convenience, but not a necessity.
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This fresh and flavorful appetizer is just the thing to set out for guests to nibble while you cook.