What Makes a Great Guest Room?

By Kate Riley May 22, 2018

Last weekend, I did something I’ve never done before. I rented a room and stayed inside a stranger’s house while I was exploring a new city.

I came home from Seattle yesterday and instead of a separate apartment, while in town I rented a private bedroom and bathroom on Airbnb. It dawned on me that the same amenities that made for a great rented guest room are the same amenities that make a great guest room if a friend or family member was coming to stay in your home.

So what is it that makes a great guest room? These were the little details that made my stay so fantastic.

Instructions for Access

My hosts have a a Schlage automated deadbolt, and provided me with a code to access the house since I arrived when they were at work. I used the code to come and go as I pleased! Without a similar setup, providing a separate set of keys for access is a nice gesture so your guests don’t feel the need to inconvenience you!


Comfortable Place to Sleep

I rented a private room with a big comfortable bed that I got to enjoy all by myself! (One of the perks of traveling solo). It’s nice to provide a stack of fresh towels too.


I paid for a private room, but if you’re hosting friends or family, it’s not essential to provide a separate room. If a comfortable sofa or air mattress is all you have space for, that works too! Provide some good smelling clean sheets and blankets and you’re good to go.


Access to Clean Bathroom

This is a given, but it’s considerate to provide towels and a clean bathroom for any guest. I had this cute bathroom all to myself, I loved its traditional blue wall tile and yellow floor tile.


One thing I noticed which I just bought for my own house is was the hideaway toilet scrubber/plunger in a streamlined caddy. This is nice to have so your guests don’t have to ask if it’s ever necessary to use one!


Super Comfy Bedding

My hosts provided comfortable cotton sheets, pillowcases, and a down comforter inside duvet with extra blanket on bed. I slept great in the bed because of it!


Also I loved that they provided two different densities of pillows, one that was fuller and one that was more flat, which I prefer. I need a flat pillow! Everyone has a different preference so I love that they provided two sizes to choose from. :)

Local Maps & Guidebooks

Like most people, I gather a lot of information from my phone and use the GPS a lot when I travel, but I always appreciate a great guidebook and map! It helps me get oriented quickly. If you have out-of-town guests, consider providing some information on the area for if and when they go out exploring on their own.


Bottled Water & Basket of Snacks

This was a thoughtful amenity. Having bottled water and a few little snacks is a nice thing to offer guests from out of town, also coffee, tea, and hot chocolate too. :)


Disclose Pets

It’s important for guests to be aware of animals living in the house, dogs, bunnies, snakes, whatever. My dad has a cat allergy so he can’t be a guest in anyone’s home who has a cat.

I made friends with my hosts’ doggie Nigel who barked whenever I showed up at the front door (good boy!) but wagged his tail and licked my hand when he saw me, he was such a sweetie.


If you want to see more of this living room, follow the link to the Airbnb listing below. :)

Little Extras & Necessary Information

My hosts had a sheet of necessary information waiting for me so I didn’t have to bother them. It included the wifi password, recommended places to eat, and special instructions about the house. For example, since this older home’s electrical system could only handle so much they asked that I don’t run a kettle and the hairdryer and the towel warmer at the same time or the electricity might short out! Good to know. :)


Kitchen Access

My hosts encouraged me to use their kitchen and provided coffee for me in the morning and told me I could cook anything I wanted while I was there.


I made French press coffee here each morning, while I waited for it to brew I admired their classic kitchen with its terra cotta tile floors, shaker cabinets, and dark green stone countertops. :)

I loved all the classic touches in my hosts’ beautiful colonial home. Here’s a peek at their dining room with built ins.



If you want to tour the rest of the home where I stayed in Seattle, visit the Airbnb listing!


A lot of people bristle at the idea of renting a room inside a stranger’s home, but I had such a great experience! If renting from a website like Airbnb (my preference), it’s essential to read the reviews from people who have stayed in the home before. My hosts were so kind and thoughtful, and made sure I was comfortable during my entire stay. They recommended great sights to see and good restaurants in the neighborhood, and I was so grateful for that inside information.

I encourage anyone to give the private room rental experience a try! After all, strangers are just friends we haven’t met yet. :) Happy travels.


  1. Are you planning to do a post on what you did while visiting Seattle? My husband and I are headed there next month and would love some recommendations of places to visit and restaurant to hit up.

    • Definitely Kelley! I saw so much in the 3 1/2 days I was out and about in Seattle, what an amazing city! I’ll share my photos and video soon. :)

  2. I enjoy your travel posts but always wonder how you balance your time with your children and husband? For the most part, it seems you travel solo, which I admire. I don’t mean to pry, so if you wish to delete this comment, I hope you will.

    • Hi Linda! I don’t always travel solo but I’m eternally curious so I don’t let the fact that if I want to see someplace new mean that I have to wait to go with someone else. I promised myself I’d explore three new cities this year, even if it meant traveling alone and I’m proud of myself for just going for it. I’ve been to Europe alone, and also with a travel buddy. I’ve been to Australia both alone (met some cousins there) and with my family. There are pros and cons to both. I touch on the reasons why I sometimes travel alone and why it works for me in this post: https://centsationalstyle.com/2017/03/benefits-of-traveling-alone/. When I’m traveling alone I don’t broadcast the fact that I am traveling solo for safety reasons.

      To answer your question, I’ve found the “balance” you mention because I’ve made my choice to take trips alone a few times a year work for my family situation. My kids are teens so they’re fine if I’m gone for 5-10 days. Matt handles everything in my absence just as I do when he travels for himself. I’m raising my kids to be independent too. I believe it’s healthy to take brief breaks from family, everyone is better off because of it. I return home happier and totally inspired because I’ve explored a new place, and my friends and family miss me when I’m gone, and I have so many stories to share on my return. Travel is a passion of mine, it brings me joy, and I’m lucky to have an understanding family.

  3. We live in Seattle and used to share our guest room on airbnb. During the season — and we live in a high demand area — it was always always booked out. The crazy thing is that the bathroom was shared (down the hall) with our kids… for $79/night. Your room was much more swank! I’m glad you had a nice (read: safe) experience — more folks should get comfortable with this idea and, for us, it was a wonderful way to earn some passive income.

    • Agreed Molly! How nice of you to invite people into your home, it’s a great way to connect with the world!

  4. Kate,
    My first Airbnb experience was great. My husband and I will return for round two this weekend. The home is a beautiful historic home with a lovely garden and welcoming homeowners. The room and bath are beautifully appointed and clean as a whistle. So much nicer than a hotel room.

  5. Kate, we just returned from our first Air BnB experience! An amazing home in Mendocino set on 14 acres just off Highway 1–went for a family wedding and I am still smiling to think of the beautiful setting, amazing places to eat and the sheer fun of being 6 adults and one toddler enjoying this together. YES! We’re converted fans to this travel option! Thanks for sharing your experience.

  6. I love how this is catching on here. In my native Germany this has been a thing for a long, long time. Many tourist areas, especially the Alps will have homes with signs “Zimmer frei” letting you know they have a room available. A lovely way to see the sights and meet the people.

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