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The guest bedroom guide

Christmas is the time of year where we all seek to play the perfect host. We want to welcome family and friends into our homes in the warmest of ways, to make them feel comfy, cosy and at absolute ease in their surroundings. And, if we're completely honest with ourselves, don't we all want to hear impressed and appreciative murmurings about what a beautiful home we have? Even better when we're told that they don't want to leave the following morning.

While our minds are first and foremost preoccupied with preparing the living room and the kitchen in particular, and within that we include the big day feast, the guest bedroom is a place not to be overlooked. Far from it. This is the room that they may well spend the most time in, sleeping soundly and hopefully enjoying a generous lie in. And this is the room where you really get to rival the experience you've enjoyed at some of your favourite boutique hotels. At Christmas more than any other time do we want our homes to feel like a hotel, and our favourite hotels to feel like a home. From the furniture to the thoughtful touches for which you'll be remembered, this is how to take yours from bedroom to haven.

Start with the big stuff: furniture. A beautifully crafted bed will stand the test of time so is a worthy investment. The same goes for the mattress, where you can indulge your guests in cloud-like comfort. Or if you're on a bit of a budget, look into a luxury mattress topper as an interim solution. Just like with your bedroom, a wardrobe, chest of drawers, and a pair of bedsides will make your guests feel like they're very much at home. And don't forget, you can use all of this storage all-year round for your own needs, just keep a few drawers spare for guests. Then, as time ticks by, gradually add pieces to your guest bedroom so it's slowly built into a bedroom that could contend with your own.

The perfect bedspread: it starts with pillows and duvet. We love feather and down because it's a sumptuously squishy combination that has a lofty look to it when it's laid out. When it comes to the linen, it has to be a high thread count Egyptian cotton. Nothing feels lovelier against the skin. Take a look at our online article 'How to: make the perfect bedspread' for style advice on laying pillows and cushions and layering blankets at the foot of the bed.

And the perfect bedside: on each bedside table place a little basket or trinket tray filled with considerate bits and bobs like an aromatherapy pillow spray (we love anything from This Works' sleep collection) or a pretty pouch of lavender, a spare phone charger, cotton pads, and a carefully selected magazine to go underneath the basket so they know it's been chosen just for them.

Let them lounge: surprise (and delight) your guests by purchasing two fluffy towelling robes and hanging them on the back of the door. First and foremost they'll think of a spa, which is no bad connotation to have encouraged. And by choosing a towelling robe, they have the option of using that in the shower room so there's no awkward sprint from bathroom to bedroom or the annoyance of carting all your clothes into the steamiest spot in the house. Go one step further by putting matching towelling slippers at the foot of the bed too.

Stay hydrated: it's not uncommon to be struck with middle-of-the-night thirst. This is especially so at Christmas time when many of us awake the next morning somewhat 'parched'. So fill a carafe or elegant jug with fresh water and a few tumblers on the nightstand. If you're feeling extra fancy, include a saucer with a few slices of cucumber, lemon and lime and a clear tumbler on top to keep them fresh so your guests can choose if they want their water plain and simple, or delicately flavoured.

And just before bedtime: nip upstairs and turn on the bedside lamps and light any bedroom candles. It's a simple thing to do, but makes the room feel so much more inviting, and is guaranteed to make your guests smile from the moment their tiptoes go over the threshold.

Finish by giving yourself a well-deserved pat on the back.

This article is taken from our second volume of Stories: Stories for winter. Coming next week.
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