How to Be a Great Guest When Spending the Night at Someone’s Home

22. June 2020

“Fish and visitors both stink after three days.” 


You will make a great first impression by confirming your invitation as soon as possible and stating the day and time of your planned arrival and departure. If you are unable to confirm the invitation within one or two days, you should refuse so as to allow the host to have a chance to invite someone else instead. Don’t forget that even if you are related to the host, for example, it does not mean that you can just show up for the weekend without an invitation. It is also not possible to assume that your relatives, if they invite you, will automatically accommodate your children and pets. Everything must be clearly agreed in advance, and of course you are expected care for your children and pets as if you were at home.Mainly, throughout your stay, remember the most important thing, and that is that you are not in a hotel, but visiting! In many situations, this idea should be a sufficient guide and guide for appropriate reactions and behavior.


Things you should, and should not, do as a guest:

  • Accept the invitation, ideally for a maximum of three nights. On weekends, it is common to arrive before dinner and to leave on Sunday after lunch or an afternoon snack. If you cannot stay for Sunday lunch, you should inform the host in advance. This rule does not apply to your loved ones or family, where instead you simply go by common sense and intuition.
  • If you will be delayed in your arrival, call and apologize.
  • Have your own toiletries.
  • Do not use your host’s phone, computer or any other device without their consent.
  • Clean up after yourself, including the bathroom, make your bed(s).
  • Offer your help. The best option may be to help with a specific task. Try to be perceptive and ask how best you can help, such as peeling potatoes, taking care of the host’s children, taking their dog out. During dinner, always help with the clearing of dishes if there is no staff in the house. At the end of your stay, offer to strip your linens and clean the bathroom.
  • Do not waste water unnecessarily taking a long shower.
  • Be flexible and engage in any program devised by the host.
  • Be on time to the table and when leaving on trips, so others don’t have to wait for you. Be at breakfast at the agreed time, even if you had a long night and your hangover is trying to convince you to lie down a bit more. It is important that as a guest, you respect the local routine and rituals.
  • Be polite and considerate. Praise the host, say that you slept beautifully, you enjoyed it a lot, even if it is not always so.
  • Although the hosts will want you to feel at home, you should not take food or drinks without asking.
  • If Wi-Fi is not available or the signal is weak, do not complain. When the host selects a program on the TV, you should agree with the choice.
  • If there are any domestic staff in the house, be friendly to them. As guests, you should not give instructions to private employees, but instead you should let them do their work without embarrassment, even if they want to take or unpack your suitcase. Don’t forget to thank them for everything.
  • You should not smoke in the bedrooms, but only with permission and in places where the ashtrays are already prepared and then only if one of the hosts smokes. Some hosts offer cigars after dinner. In this case, smoking is allowed at the table.
  • Make sure you have all your things packed before you leave.
  • Send a handwritten thank you even after a one-day visit. However, if you reciprocally visit often, it is not necessary.


Allow your hosts to have some privacy

Sometimes all you have to do is say, “The fresh air has worn me out, would it be okay if I took a short nap?” Or “If you don’t need me for an hour or two, I’ll check my emails and work a little.” The attentive guest does not participate in every conversation, but rather sometimes gets lost in another room in the house for a while or goes for a short walk so that the host(s) also has/have a moment to themselves.



As a guest, you are expected to bring a gift to the hosts. For an overnight stay, for example, a bottle of good wine is enough, a longer stay requires something a little more valuable. If the hosts have small children, it is advisable to bring something for them. You can either bring a gift with you or buy it during your stay, when you will get a better idea of what the hosts want or need. The third option is to send a gift as soon as possible after your departure.

Tips for gifts:

  • Gift basket with delicacies, fruit or chocolate.
  • A book the hosts have been wanting.
  • The best choice may be a bottle of chilled champagne or sparkling wine that can be opened immediately. But beware, carrying food and drink to a very formal or big celebration is not appropriate.
  • A bottle of liqueur or cognac that you know your hosts like.
  • A little something for the kitchen.
  • A dozen golf balls for golfers.
  • A set of nicely wrapped herbs or spices.
  • A frame in which you can insert a well-turned-out picture taken during your visit.
  • Candles and candlesticks.
  • Flowers.
  • Under certain circumstances, an invitation to a local restaurant may be more appropriate than spending money on a gift. If your stay is longer than just a weekend, then paying for your host(s) at the restaurant is a very suitable and recommended reciprocation. If the host suggests a restaurant that seems beyond your budget, it is perfectly acceptable to say something like: “I’m sorry, it looks great, but I think it’s a little beyond my means. Could we go somewhere else?”


Thank You Note

If you are invited to someone’s house overnight, the hosts have extended you an honor that you should not take lightly. As a guest, you have certain responsibilities to the hosts. Regardless of whether you have gifted the host, it is important to express your gratitude for the invitation in writing. Remember that while your stay can bring joy and pleasure to both you and the hosts, it still represents a considerable amount of work for them to feel satisfied. They bought food, cleaned the whole house, cooked, planned the program and adjusted their schedule to suit you. The first sentence of such a letter should contain words of thanks and appreciation. The next sentence should appreciate something specific about the stay. Do not hesitate and mention more than one detail that you liked during the visit. For example, you can write about the beautiful accommodation, delicious food, etc. You can conclude the letter, for example, with a reciprocal invitation to stay with you. Ideally, send it on the day you arrive home. Never wait more than a few days.



Do you have a sample thank-you note?

Dear Friends,

Thank you very much for the invitation. We cannot forget your cozy accommodation, delicious food, amazing program and pleasant conversation. We look forward to seeing you again. Next time, you could spend the night with us if you decide to visit Prague, what do you think?

Respectfully yours,

The Kučeras


Dear Jana,

Thank you for making your beautiful house available to me and my husband. We spent unforgettable moments with you and I am very glad that our husbands finally had the opportunity to get to know each other. If you and your husband ever find yourself in our corner of the world, Patrick and I would be very happy if you would stay with us next time for a few days.

Your friends,


What should I do if I need to stay longer than originally planned? 

If you have to stay longer than expected as a guest, you should definitely share the cost of food and drink with the hosts. Also help with common activities such as shopping, preparing meals or helping children with homework. Try to be as useful as possible.