11 Steps for Preparing For an Overnight Guest

There are simple steps you can take to get ready to welcome your overnight guests to ensure that any expected (and unexpected) visitors feel right at home in your apartment.

1. Check with your landlord

Can a landlord say no to overnight guests? Technically, no. Landlords know that forbidding or drastically restricting the ability to occasionally have guests stay the night would negatively impact their ability to find tenants. Most are willing to allow visitors, as long as they abide by the rules of the apartment complex or rental unit, don't make loud noises or disrupt other tenants and are tidy and courteous.

That said, every landlord will have their own rules and policies regarding overnight guests, like how many are allowed at any given time, how frequently you can have them over and how long they can stay. In some cases, you may need to give advance notice of guests staying over, but in others, it's not necessary. Some landlords may have rules that visitors can only stay a certain number of nights in a row, whereas others may be more flexible.

So, check your rental agreement or ask your landlord what their specific policies are, as this will better allow you to plan for visits in the future.

guest room

2. Prep the guest room

Preparing to have overnight guests stay over? Then you'll have to get the guest room ready. Here's what you need to do:

  • First, make sure the bed has clean sheets. No one wants to sleep on dirty sheets!
  • If possible, make some space by clearing out a few drawers or closet space to provide guests with some room to unpack clothes so they don't have to live out of a suitcase during their stay
  • Provide Wi-Fi information so your houseguest can get connected
  • Leave a bottle of water for them on the nightstand so they don't have to find the kitchen if they get thirsty in the middle of the night

What if you don't have a guest room

If you live in a less-than-spacious apartment, you don't have the luxury of a spare room. But that doesn't mean that you can't accommodate overnight guests.

Invest in a good air mattress and keep it handy in a closet. You'll also want to have a set of spare sheets and pillows to go along with the mattress. You can make the bed before guests come over and lay it down wherever you have space (lean it against the wall when it's not being used to keep it out of high-traffic areas). You can also invest in a pull-out sofa that easily converts into a bed.

If you really want to be the ultimate host, you can let your guests take your room for the night and you can use the air mattress or the sofa. If you go with this option, offer your visitors a set of fresh towels, some reading materials, fresh water and anything else they might need during the night.

3. Provide extra toiletries

We've all done it: In the frenzy of packing for travel, sometimes we forget our toothbrush or some other essential toiletry item at home. So, make sure you have a small supply of every-day toiletries on hand, like an extra toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, body wash, lotion or deodorant.

And you don't need to make sure to have their choice brand of shampoo either — just some travel-sized bottles will do.

4. Set out extra blankets

No matter where your guests end up snoozing, it's important that you lay out some extra blankets. There's nothing worse than waking up in the middle of the night shivering and having no way to warm up. Your guests will appreciate the gesture.

cleaning

5. Clean everywhere

Don't greet your guests in a dirty, cluttered apartment. Nobody wants to look into the kitchen sink and see what you had for dinner two days ago. Floors and countertops should also be cleared of any messes.

Next, go through each room with antibacterial wipes and clean off surfaces of tables, dressers, countertops, appliances, etc. Then, spray your favorite air freshener or light a few scented candles to create a relaxing and pleasant-smelling atmosphere.

6. Restock the fridge, pantry

Just because you live off Nutella doesn't mean your houseguests should. Go to the grocery store to stock up on basics like bread, eggs, milk and coffee (and don't forget about the beer, wine, cocktails or other beverages your guests may like).

If you know your visitors particularly well, you can pick up their favorite snacks. It's always nice to have some food in your apartment to accommodate hungry guests. Always keep dietary restrictions in mind when you're stocking your fridge. For instance, if your friend is lactose intolerant, you probably don't want to pick up ice cream for dessert.

home accessories

7. Freshen up your home with accessories

You don't have to redecorate your entire apartment or anything, but it's always nice to give your place a little facelift when you have company over. Here are a few simple things you can do that will make a big difference when your guests arrive.

Display flowers

Put a few fresh-cut flowers into a vase and place the vase on a windowsill or use it as a centerpiece on your kitchen table. Blooms are such an easy way to add some personality and cheeriness to your apartment.

Use coasters

Unless you would like to have rings of condensation forming on your coffee table, I recommend investing in a set of coasters.

Set out mugs

If your guests get up earlier than you, place a few mugs next to the coffee machine. This way, they can help themselves and don't have to wait until you wake up in order to enjoy a cup of coffee. And make sure they know where to find the coffee beans and how to work your coffee machine!

Use a bar cart

Are you planning on offering your guests some libations? If so, you can jazz up your apartment with a small bar cart. This item doesn't take up much space and will keep all of your drink must-haves organized and accessible.

8. Have a spare key made

A good way to ensure your guests don't get locked out of your apartment is to have a spare key made. This way, they can feel free to leave your place and go explore the surrounding area while you're at work or out running errands.

9. Add personal touches

Having guests stay overnight is always a treat. It's a chance to catch up with friends and family and have a bit of a break from the routine. To show your visitors how happy you are to have them, add some homey personal touches, like a personalized welcome note left in the guest bedroom or some light snacks and refreshments when they arrive to help them relax and unwind after travel. With these gestures, your guests will feel even more welcome and comfortable.

instructions for appliances

10. Leave instructions for household appliances

If your guest is planning on staying for a few days and will have some free time around your house while you're at work, make sure they know how to use any household appliances or amenities they might need, like the washing machine, dishwasher or TV (since everyone's TV seems to operate in its own special way).

Write out or type up some simple instructions to leave by the appliance in question, and if your guest asks in advance how something works, give them an in-person demo.

11. Plan some fun activities

Preparing for overnight guests doesn't just have to be about practicality. There should be a fun side to it, especially if your visitor has never been to the area before. Plan some fun outings to get out of the house and show your guest around.

Take them to your favorite local spots so they can discover your city through your eyes. Introduce them to your town's foodie scene by taking them to your favorite restaurants or bars. Visit museums, monuments, neighborhoods and other “must-see" tourist sites so they can learn more about where you live. Sharing your home with visiting friends and family is always exciting for everyone!

And if you're busy with work and can't accompany them during the day, offer suggestions for local activities and attractions to visit on their own, with information about how to get there, if there are costs included and the best time of day to visit.

Happy host, happy overnight guests

Taking the time to properly prepare and set up your house for overnight guests brings a sense of satisfaction and joy, ensuring a seamless, pleasant and comfortable time for all!

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Zoe BaillargeonZoe Baillargeon is an award-winning writer and journalist based in Portland, Oregon, where she covers a variety of beats including travel, food and drink, lifestyle and culture for outlets like Apartment Guide, Rent.com, AFAR.com, Fodor's, The Manual, Matador Network and more. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, hiking, reading and spoiling her cat.

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