Staying With Friends? Then You Need To Know How to Be a Good Visitor

Don't hog the loo, always, always bring a bottle and never change the channel unless you want to be skewered with the Sky+ remote. For all that and more, read on.


“She never, ever brought anything with her,” grumbles Fiona, who’s explaining why a pal she’s since sidelined was the worst houseguest… EVER. “She’d come up from the West a few times a year for three or four days at a time, and at first it was great fun. But then, one of my housemates gently pointed out to me after the third or so time she’d stayed, that not only did she not so much as bring a bottle of wine by way of thanks for her payment-free holiday, she’d eat us out of house and home while she was there, too. Then she’d shag off home delighted with herself!”

Eh, hashtag rage. But that little story neatly illustrates just how delicate the balance between ‘happy to have you’ and ‘you’re taking total advantage’ can be for guests and homeowners. It’s never easy to be a visitor in someone else’s gaff: constantly conscious of their schedules, their bathroom time, their nightly sleep routine and so much more besides, it can be a lot easier to just say, shag this, and stay in a hotel.

Cheat Sheet

10 point guide to getting it right.

  1. Bring a gift
  2. Tidy up after you
  3. Be polite and helpful
  4. Do not help yourself to the TV remote
  5. Ditto the contents of the fridge
  6. Make your bed
  7. Don’t hog the bathroom
  8. Leave politics out of it
  9. Make or buy your hosts a meal
  10. Don’t outstay your welcome

That’s not always an option, and it can be lovely to arrive at a familiar, cosy house, ready for a few days R&R. So how do you ensure that you don’t outstay your welcome, and that they’ll be pleased to have you back? “Bring a bloody bottle of something nice with you,” growls Fiona.

She’s not wrong. There’s no need to spend a fortune but arriving with one arm as long as the other is a serious no-no. There’s a reason why the hostess gift category exists, so a decent bottle of whatever your pal likes to drink would be ideal, or if she never buys herself lovely beauty bits, how about a scented candle or some luxe handcream? Foodie treats never go amiss either, especially if pals will be cooking for you while you’re there.

Speaking of which; here’s how to do it right once you’ve arrived. If they get up early, then soz, so should you. Hogging the bathroom’s just not on, especially if there’s only one and people are under time pressure to get to college or work. Offer to cook one evening, or if you can afford it, take them out – and pay. If that’s not doable, try to stand a couple of rounds in the pub, and make your gratitude known.

Leave where you’re sleeping super-tidy, and send a thank you card when you’re back home. Not only is it a polite, nice thing to do that your mother would be super-proud of (if she only knew), but it’s also a bit of insurance for the future. They’ll hopefully be so touched, they’ll ask you back. Win-win, eh?