What should be in a guest room? 8 essential additions so your friends give you a 5 star review

Catering for guests is no easy feat, but these 8 top tips are the ultimate way to make their bedroom as cozy as can be

A guest bedroom
(Image credit: Ishka Designs Inc, 50 1stdibs)

A guest bedroom isn't like any other room in the house, and designing the space is all about putting yourself in the mindset of a visitor. Instead of getting tempted to fill it with your favorite things, you need to think about what your guest wants, and how to make it a calming retreat, fitting for all who use the space overnight. It's about creating a little oasis of calm away from hosts and ensuring they are as cozy and comfortable as possible. 'Getting the guest bedroom ready for loved ones to stay is all about ensuring it's beautiful, welcoming, and set for the best night's sleep,' says Emma Deterding, designer at Kelling Designs. 

Guest rooms come with the added predicament that they are typically unused and the smaller room in the home. 'A guest bedroom is often the unloved room in the house where more mundane tasks take place, like sorting the washing,' points out Brooke Aitken of Brooke Aitken Design. 'It is the poor cousin of the master bedroom, lonely and used sparingly unless utilized as the now ubiquitous home office. However, a guest bedroom should be a gracious host to a traveling visitor,' she says. To help you plan a guest bedroom to be proud of, we've spoken to the designers to find out their top hosting tips.

Oonagh Turner
Oonagh Turner

Oonagh is an interiors content editor and homes writer. For this story, she has spoken to her designer contacts to find out what makes a guest bedroom different to a normal bedroom, and how best to make the space as cozy as possible.

What should be in a guest room?

1. Scale back on the personalized decor

A bedroom that exhibits minimal decor

(Image credit: Kuzman Architecture Tatjana Plitt)

When thinking about what should be in a guest room, it's also crucial to think about what shouldn't be in the space. Instead of filling your guest's room with personalized trinkets that speak to your personality, like you might do in your own master bedroom, it's more about designing a space that is pared back, calming, and lacking in photo frames of you and your family on holiday. 

The purpose is so that any visitor can slot in seamlessly and feel at home in a comfortable modern bedroom. 'I believe that guest rooms should not have ‘stuff’,' explains interior designer, Anna Popov. 'No trinkets, personal items, or a lot of accessories everywhere. The room should feel like you are a guest here and not just sleeping in someone else’s room.'

2. Impress with a statement headboard

A blue headboard designed to look like a wave

(Image credit: Tara Craig)

A statement headboard goes a long way to make the space feel more like a modern bedroom or even a hotel, rather than a room in someone else's home. 

'As with any bedroom, an upholstered headboard in a statement shape will help create a focal point that will also act as an anchor for the overall design scheme,' says Emma. 'Choose a shape and design you love, and whether you opt for velvets in bold colors or a beautiful patterned fabric, use this as the base for the rest of your scheme,' she says.

3. Create cozy lighting

A bedroom with layered lighting of gold floor lamp and grey wall light

(Image credit: Haris Kenjar. Design: Heidi Caillier Design, 1stdibs.co.uk)
Bellhop LED table lamp in black by Lumens

Bellhop LED table lamp in black by Lumens

Who doesn't love a cute little mushroom lamp, and this one is perfect for your guest's bedside table, in matt black, from Lumens.

The perfect guest bedroom should be bright in the day and warm and welcoming at night, creating an atmospheric room with perfect conditions for sleep. 

'To create variety, think about layering the bedroom lighting,' advises lighting expert, John Cullen. 'To provide good general light, downlights can be used to reflect light off artwork, curtains, blinds, and wardrobes to provide infill light. These can be used in combination with a decorative bedside lamp.' 

Choosing the perfect color temperature of lamp is also crucial. 'Never use something higher than 2700k as it will be too cold. Use 2700k for the downlights and for the decorative,' says John. To add warmth, select 2400K for the bedside lamps and wall lights. Use this also for LED strips as this will give a warm feel. 

Remember, your guest may not have stayed in the room before, so intuitive switching and easy controls are essential. Your guest will also be grateful to have the lighting on a dimmer switch to create mood and allow the room to work as they want from day to night. 

4. Think about state-of-the-art bed linen

Beautiful bed linen in a guest bedroom

(Image credit: Ohra Studio)

Comfort is key and a hugely important factor for your guest. To ensure your guests get a good night's sleep, you want to ensure you invest in a really good quality duvet and pillows. When debating how to style a bed, choose linen made with natural fillings such as goose down. 'They are perfect as they are cozy, super-insulating but also naturally breathable too,' says Emma of KD Loves.

'Crisp, white sheets in cotton or linen will allude to the hotel-inspired feel, while opting for accessories in tones that compliment your headboard will tie the look together and add that all-important balance,' says Emma.

Dressing the bed with down bedding can enhance guests’ sleep quality, making them feel as though they are sleeping on a light, fluffy cloud. 'My top pick for bedding is Pandora de Balthazar’s European Sleep System, which has revolutionized my own sleep habits and has guests lining up, wanting to stay overnight in my guest bedroom,' says designer, Lisa Kahn.

Solid cotton King 1200 thread count sheet set, Bed Bath and Beyond

Solid cotton King 1200 thread count sheet set, Bed Bath and Beyond

This is the ideal bed set for a guest bedroom - it's crisp and comfortable and goes with everything. Crucially, it washes really well, too.

5. Invest in quality storage

floor to ceiling Storage in the bedroom

(Image credit: Nicole England. Design: The Stylesmiths)

Storage is another key consideration for the guest bedroom, as more often than not, the spare bedroom will support you with storage that may not be available in the main rooms. 'Built-in wardrobes and millwork will make the best use of the space available and allow you to keep the room organized, which is important for when you have guests over, after all you want to provide them with a beautiful and restful sanctuary to sleep in,' says Emma.

It will also allow your guests to unpack their bags and create their sanctuary in a home away from home. 

6. Make sure your guest has a bedroom mirror

A bedroom with a mirror next to the bed

(Image credit: Lindye Galloway Studio + Shop. Photo by Chad Mellon)

Your guest room might not have an ensuite, but you can still give your guest the ensuite feel with a large bedroom mirror that they can treat as a pampering station in the morning, avoiding that awkward dash between the bathroom and bedroom. Perch the mirror on a bedroom dresser, or lean a large mirror against a wall.

In the guest bedroom, the larger the mirror the better. More often than not, the guest room is slightly smaller, so you want to give the impression of light and space where possible. 'Mirrors will help bounce light back into the room giving the illusion of space and brightness,' says Emma.

7. Provide a cozy chair

A cozy armchair in the corner of a room

(Image credit: Kasha Paris)

A simple addition to your guest room, but an important bedroom furniture addition is a chair for your guest to cozy up with a good book and feel like they can take some time away in their personal space. 'There should be a bedroom chair for your guest to relax comfortably, allowing them a little private sanctuary away from the home and its occupants,' says Brooke. 

In terms of what to go for, a rocking chair creates a rustic bedroom look and is a nice bedroom addition. Alternatively, a boucle armchair will bring the cozy look. If you have space, a desk, as well as a chair, might be helpful if your guest is looking to work from home in your space. Or like in this example by Kasha Paris, a small coffee table creates a nice little sitting area.

Amber Lewis for Anthropologie velvet caillen accent chair

Amber Lewis for Anthropologie velvet caillen accent chair

This accent chair - designed by Amber Lewis in collaboration with Anthropologie - is upholstered in a  plush, velvet and has a beautiful oak frame.

8. Don't forget the finishing touches

grey bedroom with pendant light and wood bedside table

(Image credit: Paul Massey)

Finally, don't forget to think about those all-important, finishing touches to make your guest really feel like they are being treated to a hotel stay. Bring in fresh flowers or foliage to add a festive feel and bring life into the space. Beautifully soft towels folded and ready on the bed, with little toiletries for your guests to use will add a special touch - you can even get miniatures of their favorite products to go the extra mile. 'Don't forget to include a scented candle in the guest bedroom to help scent-scape the room - those with citrus, wood, and spice notes are perfect for the festive season and help set the mood for the holiday season,' says Emma.

Finally, be sure to leave an empty drawer, space in the wardrobe, and some hanging hooks on the door for storage. This will add to making an extended stay much more comfortable for your guests - the only problem is that your guests may never want to leave.

Cypress & Fir 7oz Blown Glass Candle from Lulu and Georgia
Candle comfort

Cypress & Fir 7oz Blown Glass Candle from Lulu and Georgia

Inspired by cypress trees and fireplaces, this candle lends a mood-boosting aroma to bring holiday cheer to your guest's bedroom. 

Oonagh Turner
Livingetc content editor and design expert

Oonagh is a content editor at Livingetc.com and an expert at spotting the interior trends that are making waves in the design world. Writing a mix of everything and everything from home tours to news, long-form features to design idea pieces on the website, as well as frequently featured in the monthly print magazine, she's the go-to for design advice in the home. Previously, she worked on a London property title, producing long-read interiors features, style pages and conducting interviews with a range of famous faces from the UK interiors scene, from Kit Kemp to Robert Kime. In doing so, she has developed a keen interest in London's historical architecture and the city's distinct tastemakers paving the way in the world of interiors.