If you’re lucky enough to have been invited to stay at someone else’s lovely beach house or gorgeous mountain hideaway for the long weekend, you’re likely feeling pretty special. But you may also feel a bit nervous—especially if that someone isn’t yet a close friend. You certainly don’t want to commit some sort of embarrassing faux pas, or worse, unwittingly offend your host. And we all know the myriad of awkward interactions that can occur over morning coffee or upon wandering down some unknown hall.
But aside from participating in the expected niceties—like bringing a chic hostess gift and not drinking all the rosé—what exactly can one do to ensure a smooth and pleasant stay? Here Mara Solomon, founder of Homebase Abroad, a company that specializes in arranging guest stays at some of Italy’s most breathtaking villas, shares a bit of what she’s learned.
It sounds simple, but a little expressiveness can go a long way and, as Solomon notes, is surprisingly often overlooked. “People forget to be appreciative, thoughtful, and generous,” Solomon says. “When a host tells you what they have arranged for you, say thank you and be present and enthusiastic.”
Being easygoing is one thing, but it can be frustrating for the host if a guest is too quiet or relaxed. “If you are invited to be a houseguest in someone’s home, it is appropriate to inquire how you can participate,” Solomon says. That can mean contributing financially by buying wine and spirits, covering the cost of the chef or dinner on some nights, or taking some work off the host’s hands by helping organize activities for the rest of the group. This can also be beneficial to you. “Ask about what is being planned, and then work around that schedule for the activities you want to arrange for yourself,” Solomon says.
Seems that old saying about houseguests and fish is one of the truest there is. “Do not stay a minute longer than you are invited for,” Solomon states, adding that, as is the case in most situations, communication is key. “If it is unclear, ask your host straight up.” The host bears a bit of responsibility here as well: “It is also incumbent on the host to have this figured out. We are strong advocates for hosts not overburdening themselves with responsibility for guests.” So if you’re the host and a guest asks what time they should be out of your hair, it is entirely appropriate—in fact, advisable—to politely state a specific time.
by CHRISTINA PÉREZ