What hotel does Oprah stay in? Or Richard Branson? Or Bill Gates? Or Mark Zuckerberg?
They don’t. Well, occasionally they might. But more often, the super-rich stay with their super-rich friends. Why stay in a hotel when you can stay on a private island, in an extravagant ski chalet, at beach and lake houses or city flats?
When the super-rich do stay in a hotel, it’s a hotel that doesn’t feel like one. A place so exclusive there’s no check-in desk or signing for chits at the bar. In other words, a hotel masquerading as a private residence, with the bill sent discretely to your business manager or personal assistant.
Hotels used to be only for people who had no friends in town. Think Downton Abbey. Their friends didn’t stay at the local pub. Rooms were always offered to their titled, as well as less-monied friends.
Of course, you can say, well, look at the size of their house, the servants, the number of rooms available. But more than that, it was a custom of the times; it’s the way things were done. Staying in a private home was the ultimate luxury.
It still is. However, times have changed and people are not as forthcoming with offering their homes so readily anymore. We’re “into” privacy, or maybe we don’t have the space, or most likely, we don’t want to be bothered.
Being a houseguest is one of the keys of our millionaire lifestyle on a retirement budget. Why? Because it means you can travel more since you’re not spending money on hotels.
Not only do you get privacy, comfort, a personal touch and maybe some delicious home cooked meals, being a houseguest lets you spend your money on everything else. Fine dining, airplane tickets, theatre, museum tickets and all those lovely things you want to do when you travel.
Being a houseguest is a two-way street. It’s a bit of work to be a host, and a bit of work to be a good house guest. The way to become a most welcome houseguest is to become a great house host. You’re not getting something for nothing, you’re getting something fab for giving something fab.
I treat my house guests like millionaires, in other words: I treat them how I would like to be treated in their home.
The guest room is a mise en scene. I try to anticipate my guest’s needs and cater to their preferences. An attractive, freshly made up bed. A pile of fluffy towels at the foot of the bed. On the nightstand, a covered pitcher of water and a glass, a vase of flowers, a box of tissues, some personally selected books according to their interests. I always put a local guidebook or city magazine so they can see what’s going on in town.
My Wi-Fi name and password is printed on a large card and placed on the night table so they don’t even have to ask. I make up a snack basket filled with sweets and crunchies. In the kitchen, I set up a tea and coffee station and explain how everything works so they can help themselves if they’re up early or whenever they want a cuppa. I show them the wine and liquor cabinet so they can start happy hour on their own and not have to wait to be invited for a drink.
Is there anything lovelier than being picked up at the airport after a jangly, hurry up and wait, take off your shoes, put them on, trip? I certainly love to be met and whisked away. So I go the extra mile and whenever possible meet my guests at the airport, bus terminal or train station. The fun begins immediately and your guests relax as they are, finally, in your good hands.
I always have a hearty snack ready. I never know if they’ve eaten on the plane, if they’re full or starving, so I provide light comfort food. As travel is dehydrating I offer my weary traveler a bowl of lovely soup and crusty bread with butter and cheese. Some fruit and cookies.
As weary travelers have a hard time deciding, or don’t want to “put me out,” I never ask, “Do you want a cup of tea?” I just make the pot when I walk in the door and ask, “Milk, lemon or sugar?” It’s always gratefully accepted.
If you haven’t traveled in a while and are nervous at being a solo traveler, being a house guest is a great way to ease into traveling again. You’re on your own, and you have local support.
Rich is the person who has friends who say, “Stay with me,” no matter if it’s the living room couch. We may not be millionaires with private islands in the Caribbean or ski chalets in Switzerland, but we can stay with our fine friends in their homes, humble or grand, in so many wonderful locations around the world.
Do you like to be a houseguest, a host, or do you prefer staying in hotels? What have your experiences been? Any advice and tips you want to share? We’re all ears, in the comments box below!