For us, the next few months will be a little unusual, in that we don’t have plans to be hosting any guests or visitors until Christmas. Living abroad has many advantages, and one personal favourite of mine is that you get to host many visitors as they travel to see you and your new home.
It’s been a year since we made Switzerland our new home, and in that time we have had ten sets of visitors, some visiting multiple times, enter our home and share our space with us. Honestly it’s something we both truly enjoy and we only hope that each time the people staying with us have a great holiday and experience too.
On that note, there are definitely a few tips and tricks we have learned along the way about hosting that make it a lot easier and comfortable for all during visits.
One: Get a feel for what your guests want to do when they visit
A few weeks before people arrive to stay with us; we always try to discover what key things they want to experience while in Switzerland. No two visits are the same and so it’s important to know in advance what is high on their must-see lists. Do they plan to relax and recuperate, or expect an active weekend where they can see as much as possible?
We usually provide visitors with our detailed guide to the local area ahead of their stay, so they can then use this to let us know what kind of activities really takes their fancy. Moreover, we include costs and any clothes or unique requirements so there are no surprises or disappointments when the trip is underway. Preview our visit guide below if you are inspired to create something similar for your guests.
Plus, we like to do something a little unique and special for each visit as people have made a lot of effort to come and see us. Here’s an example of a Weir Wine Tour we made for one of the trips!
Two: Time the visit well
Based on the above, it’s really important to be conscious of the timings of visits where possible. If you have guests wanting to do outdoor pursuits, it’s best to let them know when the weather is reliable. For those visiting when you still need to work, make that clear ahead of the trip so they can organize their days and plans in advance where needed.
Three: Have a spare key cut for your guests
Even if you are going to be spending the majority of your time together, it’s good to offer guests their own key so they can come and go without worry. This makes it easier if they tend to go for runs earlier in the morning, or will be entertaining themselves whilst you are in the office.
On that note, a house guide for those who will be in your home without you for extended periods is always a good idea. It means they can easily make themselves at home without worrying about how to work the TV or heating.
Four: Don’t forget the little things
Ensuring you have fresh bedding, a clean home and a well-stocked fridge are the basics when it comes to hosting, but sometimes the little things that make stays a lot easier can go overlooked. We try to put adapters in the sockets for those coming from abroad, the bedside tables in the guest room have eye masks, ear plugs and sleep spray and we like to leave a little welcome gift or two from the local area in the room as a surprise. Plus, put fresh towels in their room, so they don’t realise mid-shower they haven’t got one at hand!
We keep our little guides we get from great places we visit and tourist information booths to provide to visitors so they can easily see what’s good to do nearby without too much effort.
Five: Check on dietary needs or special preferences
Make sure you know in advance if people have specific needs. Whether it’s specific dietary requirements, cat allergies or a particular fear which might make an activity you choose unsuitable, we’ve seen it all.
It’s always easy to navigate as long as you know beforehand, so if in doubt, just ask.
Seven: Prepare some meals in advance
If you are going to be using your time to see as much as you can with your visitors, you don’t want the day to day chore of cooking to eat into these precious hours. Prepare one or two meals you can throw into the slow cooker in the morning for when you arrive home tired at the end of the day. Lentil curries, hearty soups and five-bean chilli are easy solutions for quick group meals.
Plus, snacks never go amiss. Have plenty in to put in bowls in between meals, and take supplies out in your bag with you to keep guests satisfied in between meals especially if you’re hiking or doing something active.
Eight: Wow with a good breakfast
On that note, having a good selection of goods for breakfast each day makes sure you start the day well-nourished and gives you time to sit round the table and plan the day ahead as a group. During the weekend, put out cereals, pastries, breads and fresh fruit alongside some yoghurts and a warm dish to allow people to take their pick and have a slow brunch before heading out for activities.
Nine: Have fun
Hosting is about spending time with people whose company you truly enjoy. Prepare in advance but when they are here, just try to relax and make the most of the time together. We realised just last week we should have had a lamp in the spare room all along to make our guest more comfortable, so there’s always more to learn!
No hosting is ever perfect, but we try and make it as good for our guests as we can each time.
What are your top hosting tips? What do you always notice or appreciate when you are staying with friends or family?