Etiquette Guide: Staying Over Someone’s House

– By Diana Minnocci –


While hotel etiquette is a simple endeavor (be sure to tip the bellman, housekeeping, valet, and concierge), staying at someone else’s home for an extended period requires special consideration. With Labor Day weekend fast approaching, perhaps the most popular time to schedule a three-day getaway with friends and family, we thought to provide you a quick guide to leave you a gracious and hospitable house guest.

The Perfect Present

Be sure to arrive with a hostess gift. A bouquet of flowers, a fine wine, and gourmet desserts are classic, conventional choices, but the best gift is one that’s personalized to your hostess’ tastes. If you plan on staying for a three-day weekend or longer, it’s also courtesy to treat your hostess to dinner at a restaurant of her choice.

A For-You-Only Invitation

If you expect to meet with acquaintances or you are offered a personal invitation in the duration of your stay, always check with your hostess first; she may have already planned an activity for you during that time. You should also invite her to attend with you, but if she declines, limit your absence to a few hours, at most. Because she has been kind enough to accommodate you at her home, you want to make yourself available to her before anyone else.

Early to Bed, Early to Rise

You should never go to bed before your hostess does; it is considered impolite to excuse yourself before she’s ready to retire for the night. Should you find yourself particularly tired, you might suggest a quiet indoor activity, like watching a movie, to help to signal to her that you hope to head to bed earlier than she had maybe planned.

Always prepare a morning treat for your host, should you awake before she does.  

And, if you awake before your hostess, be sure to greet her when she does with at least either coffee or tea, whichever is her preference. While it’s not inappropriate to quietly entertain yourself before she rises, it would be inconsiderate to help yourself to her pantry without preparing some form of breakfast for her as well.

In Your Carry-On and Keep It Clean

Do pack your own toiletries. A good hostess will ready the guest bathroom with the necessary accoutrements before you arrive, but should she fail to do so, it might become awkward to have to borrow items from her own personal bathroom each morning and night. And, it goes without saying that you should leave your bedroom and bathroom in the same condition as when you had arrived.

Finally, don’t forget to thank your hostess before you depart. Within the week, you should also send her a thank you card, and perhaps even some flowers, to demonstrate your appreciation. With these simple, considerate acts, you can be sure that you will always be regarded as a welcome guest. Just don’t forget to return the favor, of course.

Diana Minnocci is a freelance fashion writer with graduate degrees in English and Women’s Studies. She’s particularly obsessed with fine lingerie and red lipstick, and is a lover of all things vintage. You can follow her on Twitter @dianaminnocci.

Feature photo credit: “Girl Next Door” by Niki

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