A Guide for Houseguests: Four Things You Shouldn't Expect of Your Host or Hostess

From around-the-clock attention to airport transport.

As a houseguest, you should have simple expectations of the person facilitating your stay: Your hostess should provide a comfortable place to sleep, access to a kitchen and shower, and tea or coffee in the morning. These basic accommodations are (typically) a given—anything beyond them indicates that your host is going above and beyond what's expected of them. Good hosts enjoy doing so, but it's important never to take advantage of his or her graciousness. Here, four things you should never expect your host or hostess to provide.

Bedroom with salmon and gray blankets, plants
Getty / Katarzyna Bialasiewicz

Around-the-Clock Attention

You shouldn't expect your hostess to alter her routine to fit yours. While you may be on vacation, she still has responsibilities. "Particularly in a family household, the arrival of a guest does not necessarily mean the cessation of soccer practices, carpools, late nights at the office, or trips to the dentist," says Thomas P. Farley, etiquette expert with Mister Manners. "Though good hosts always do their best to work around such conflicts, life goes on even when a guest is in residence, and the visitor must not feel neglected if they are not being attended to 24/7."

Custom Dietary Plans

While you should feel comfortable sharing your dietary restrictions with your hostess—a good host will try to accommodate as much as possible—it's not realistic to expect your hostess to go to extreme measures. For example, if you have a gluten intolerance, your hostess may be able to prepare a gluten-free meal. However, they may not have separate pots and pans that are exclusively used for gluten-free food. If you're very sensitive, bring your own cooking utensils or make plans to dine out. "If guests have dietary restrictions, they should inquire whether the host typically keeps the types of food on-hand that are allowable on the guest's diet," says Farley. "If not, the guest should request permission to bring some of those foods to the home, or for longer stays, to be taken to a nearby grocery store to do some shopping."

Airport Transportation

If you need transportation to and from the airport, make your own accommodations. "With respect to transportation, renting a car or taking a ride sharing service such as Lyft or Uber—particularly coming from and leaving for an airport—will go a long way toward salvaging the host's sense of calm before and after your visit," explains Farley. "Give your hosts the time they will need to make last-minute preparations for your visit—or the time they will need to clean following your departure—and simply book yourself a car or taxi."

Use of the Host's Car

Similarly, you shouldn't assume you'll be able to use the hostess' car during your stay. But if your hostess does allow you to use her vehicle, treat it like you would your own. "Should a host graciously offer the use of a spare car during the guest's visit, the guest should ensure the car is maintained with a full tank of gas and kept spic-and-span inside," advises Farley. "A particularly thoughtful guest will have the car washed when done using it."

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