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People are picky about their pillows – and with good reason. So make like a boutique hotel and offer options: two soft and two firm.

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With holiday entertaining season almost upon us, your question comes at the perfect time. In just a few weeks we’ll be decking the halls, stocking the pantry and getting guest bedrooms ready for friends and family. The kind of guest room that draws raves is about more than just fresh flowers on the nightstand, though those are always a nice touch. The room has to look good and function even better.

One of the best ways to ensure a five-star stay is to put yourself in your guests’ slippers and spend a night in the room yourself. I took my own advice a few years ago and the experience was a real eye-opener – literally. I tossed and turned all night. The pillows were flat, the mattress was lumpy and it hit me at 3 a.m. that my previous guests were too polite tell me the truth.

People are picky about their pillows – and with good reason. So make like a boutique hotel and offer options: two soft and two firm. Your guests’ necks will thank you. Throw in an extra blanket or duvet across the foot of the bed – or in a basket underneath the side table – to account for personal temperature preferences.

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Once you have the mattress and bedding sorted, think about other basics: a carafe and water glass, a full-length mirror and a bedside lamp that’s bright enough for reading. Next, look into buying a folding luggage rack so guests don’t have to drop their bag on the floor or plunk it on top of a dresser. Walmart, Wayfair and Bed, Bath and Beyond all have inexpensive models in materials from wood to chrome. If you want something a little more high design, I like the acrylic and leather rack from CB2. When your guests leave, just fold the rack up and stash it under the bed until next time.

If the room doesn’t have a dedicated closet, install a row of hooks or a peg rail on the wall behind the door; a freestanding coat rack is another solution. I also leave out a small basket or box of hotel-style amenities, such as a spare toothbrush, razor, shower cap, mini shampoo and conditioner and body lotion.

I think there should be art in the room to engage the eye and imagination: a beautiful landscape, a striking photograph or a fun illustration. I’d suggest sticking with decorative art and leaving framed family photos out of the mix – this isn’t your room, after all.

If you really want to go above and beyond, iron the sheets, or at least the pillowcases, for a blissful sleep. The only danger is that guests may never “check out.”

Need some advice about interior design and decor? Send your questions to personaldesigner@globeandmail.com.

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