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JLeslie's avatar

If you are staying in a guest house or apartment what are your expectations regarding the main house?

Asked by JLeslie (46167 points ) December 13th, 2013

The set up is a house that has a mini suite not directly connected to the main house, but extremely close proximity. Either attached to the garage or on the other side of the backyard, creating a courtyard feel. The mini suite has a bedroom, bath, main living area with a sofa, chair and TV, and also has a small kitchen with fridge, microwave, stovetop, and toaster oven.

I am particularly interested in the situation where you are the parent visiting adult children, or where you are the adult child with your parents vsiting, but all relationships, even visiting friends interests me. Please clarify who you are in relation to the person you are visiting or being visited by in your explanation.

1. If you are the one visiting, do you feel like you can walk into the main house at any time? Or, do you feel like you need to call or knock first?

2. If you own the house and have visitors, what do you expect them to do regarding privacy? Can they walk in the main house without warning?

3. Does it matter how long the visit is? A week? A month?

4. Would you prefer this set up when visiting someone (especially interested if you are the parent visiting your child and spouse) or when you are the one being visited? Or, prefer to stay with the person in their house?

Just some clarification, this isn’t a mansion of any sort. The main house would be about 3,000 sq. ft. and the guest house about 700 sq. ft.

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20 Answers

Judi's avatar

I’m your friend and I’ll knock. I promise. :-)

LuckyGuy's avatar

Been there done that – in both directions. The only place off limits was the master bedroom and bathroom.
Some of the most magical times for me is sitting with friends all scruffy in last night’s sleep wear, drinking coffee, talking, reading the newspaper, kvetching about our kids and discussing business or engineering issues. It is intimate, open and honest.
Wonderful. I love it.

A week goes by too quickly and leaves us wanting more. Perfect!

JLeslie's avatar

@LuckyGuy So, does it really even make a difference having the guest suite? If you had stayed in a bedroom in the house would it basically be the same since all areas were basically come and go as you please anyway?

Cupcake's avatar

I have never stayed anywhere with such an arrangement. I would need an in-service beforehand so that I was clear on expectations from my host. Parent or not, that arrangement sounds a bit stuffy and high-class to me. I’m not sure how comfortable it would be. I don’t think anyone in my social circle has a guest house, and there might only be a couple of people with 3000 sq ft houses (which is the size of two of my houses).

gailcalled's avatar

I would set up ground rules for each guest’s visit, depending on the relationship and the intimacy and what made sense for me. I don’t think that “one-size-fits-all” can apply.

Ask. Tell.

In some situations, you might want to hang out over breakfast every morning; in others, not. Having a mini-kitchen also gives the guests a chance to jumpstart the day privately if that is their wont.

We had a similar situation with a large summer house and adjoining guide’s cabin and guest cottage. The first floor of the main house, including large kitchen, was always open to everyone, but it was camp and pretty rustic. At times there were 17 of us, either close family or friends and it seemed to flow naturally.

(And we had the issue of not having a road; guests could not escape unless they had permission to use one of the boats. So everyone stayed for a long time.)

KNOWITALL's avatar

My uncle has guest quarters at his place in Florida and the main house is pretty much for times they are home, otherwise the guest quarters are well-equipped for a guest to hang there or in the yard. We’re family so it’s not off limits, but if we were friends, I’d expect it to be off limits.

No more than a week is my personal preference, otherwise it seems intrusive.

Personally I’m not into guests, it makes me feel like I have to entertain them and I’m a hermit…lol, I do it on occasion but semi-grudingly.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Well, it would depend. If it was my father’s side of the family we would have to wait for an express invitation.
If it was my mother’s side of the family people and children would be charging in an out and getting fed every time they turned around.

If I had the main house, everyone welcome at any time. But they already know not to wake me up!

JLeslie's avatar

@Dutchess_III If it was your mom’s house would you still be glad to have your own private area? Let’s say you need to wake up early to go to Disneyland or something. Not having to worry about waking them while you have some breakfast and get ready. Or, if your mom gets up at 5:00 am for work, he might wake you if you are in the main house. Or, would you feel very odd being separated since your mom has an open house all the time policy anyway. Would it create a stuffy or formal feeling?

JLeslie's avatar

@gailcalled At the summer house is everyone there not working? In my scenerio, if it were me and my house, my husband would be on a M-F regular work schedule and my parents would be visiting on vacation. My dad also has trouble sleeping and wakes sometimes very very early in the wee hours.

ucme's avatar

Hot & cold running wenches is an absolute minimun requirement if i’m there alone.
Nowt like a randy maid from below stairs tending to my, ahem…room service.

DWW25921's avatar

If your privacy is being respected duration is less of an issue. If they just walk in your house, a week tops is reasonable.

LuckyGuy's avatar

The suite or bedroom is nice because the guests can put all their clothes and stuff away and keep it private. The rest of the house stay relatively neat, or in my case, as messy as it usually is.

glacial's avatar

This is an interesting question. I don’t think there can be a single, objective answer. I think it would vary depending on the personalities of the owners and the guests, and on the length of stay. If I imagine myself as the guest, I know that there are some friends and relatives whose door I would knock on, and others who I wouldn’t. Likewise, as the owner, I think I would expect certain people to knock and not others. And those expectations would likely shift according to how many times no one answered the door when it was knocked upon (because maybe the owner is in the shower or the basement or something) – is the person outside supposed to wait patiently? And for how long? And if that happens once, okay… but if it happens five times over a week’s stay? That’s a bit unreasonable.

I think it makes sense to explicitly ask people to knock if you’re having them as guests – or at least, don’t think less of them if you’ve provided no ground rules and they enter without knocking.

rojo's avatar

Family, just walk in. You can knock while entering if it makes you more comfortable.

Friends, knock. They will probably tell you not to bother (after having to answer the door a couple of times) knocking: then revert to the knocking while entering mode.

Remember the old saying about guests and fish.

I prefer that kind of setup to being in the same house. Gives both parties/groups a modicum of privacy and a place to get away for a while.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@JLeslie Of course I would prefer to have my own space for my own routines. I’m just saying that anyone would be welcome to come in or out at will. I am assuming, of course, that I have raised them to have some common sense and manners.

hearkat's avatar

I’m a pragmatist; so as a host I would set up ground rules, and as a guest, I would ask for them.

gailcalled's avatar

@JLeslie: My husband and I and the kids (for years) had the entire summer off since we were all in the “ed” business. All of our guests were on vacation. Mr. Gailcalled had an office in the main house and used an office in town at the local independent boarding school. He was able to work when and where he felt like it since he did not have to be in situ during the long vacation.

As far as accomodating individual idiocyncracies, such as insomnia, do it case by case. You can’t codify all the variables, and I can’t imagine while you’d want to bother. You work it out in a way that makes everyone as comfortable as possible.

The only rules we had were to understand and respect the septic system, to hang wet towels outside on line and not on the living room furniture, only take baths in seriers, to not eat what had been prepared for dinner as your own private snack, and if you ate or drank the last bottle of juice or slice of bread, to put it on the shopping list.

I have never stayed in anyone’s guest house or apartment. But I have never had problems with having guests in my home or being one. People being picked up by an airline shuttle at 5:00 AM did it quietly and efficiently. I don’t understand what creating “a stuffy or formal feeling” means.

dxs's avatar

1. If you are the one visiting, do you feel like you can walk into the main house at any time? Or, do you feel like you need to call or knock first?

It depends on the person, but I’d knock first if they didn’t say I can just come on in. They would probably lock the doors for security anyway, right?

2. If you own the house and have visitors, what do you expect them to do regarding privacy? Can they walk in the main house without warning?

This is kind of a problem with security since you don’t have a key to the house. If that weren’t a factor, then just come on in whenever.

3. Does it matter how long the visit is? A week? A month?

I don’t want to clean up after a month’s worth of living, but I wouldn’t own such a high-maintenance estate in the first place, so in that position I’d just hire someone else to do the cleaning. I would have too much money anyway, right? I would only let friends and family stay there, so I trust them initially. If they make a mess, then I won’t host them again.

4. Would you prefer this set up when visiting someone (especially interested if you are the parent visiting your child and spouse) or when you are the one being visited? Or, prefer to stay with the person in their house?

It makes me feel like an outcast, but big estates like that will do that to you. There’s no need for such a large house anyway.

JLeslie's avatar

Thanks for all the answers. I love having company, but personally would love to be in a guest house or bedroom a little separate from the main house when visiting someone and have my own separate space. I tend to think the main house would have to always be open to everyone though, or it might feel odd or unwelcoming. I have stayed in people’s houses where I basically had the second floor, because the master was downstairs, and it felt very private and I could control the thermostat (this is a big one for me, I am tired of being freezing when staying with friends and family) but this set up requires guests to be able to get up a flight of stairs, and my parents and inlaws are getting older. They can still get up a flight, but I know my inlaws prefer not to.

After reading the answers I’m think maybe just have an hour, like not before 9:00am in the main house or something like that? Not sure. The main house would be accessible to guests they would have a key or combination, or during the middle of the day doors would be left unlocked or open. I live in Florida so walking outside for a 20 seconds is no big deal. 9 months of the year being inside is almost the same as being outside, the other three it is hot outside.

It doesn’t look like I will have this sort of house, but I have always wanted something like this and as I get older I want it more. Mosty because if my parents or my husband’s parents ever wound up staying an extended period or living with us they would have their own space and so would we. I think initially my father may think it is uncomfortable, but my mom would love it. My dad is the pain in the neck though, and the one who would benefit most from it actually, so I think he would come around. My husband’s parents I have no idea how they would react. I think if they actually lived with us fulll time they would like it, but visiting they would feel like outcasts possibly, nervous about the set up. I could be totally wrong about that though, if the apartment/studio was done really nicely my MIL would probably like it. The rest of my inlaws would love it, I have no doubt. Friends I have no idea.

Smitha's avatar

We do have guests visiting us a couple of times a year and we have a have a guest room in the first floor so it is easy to have people stay without major disruption.
If I am the person visiting them I would definitely knock (just being polite) and I expect the same thing from others too.I would also not prefer to enter the main house during odd hours.
Regarding number of days, I would not like them to stay at my place for more than a week, most people never realize that they may be on vacation but not us.
If I am visiting my Parents or they are visiting me, I would prefer to stay with them, even they enjoy that. My daughter always sleeps with her granny when she comes. I don’t want them to feel like guests. But with friends I would like staying separately especially when they come with their spouse and kids.
I would not like to bother or interfere with their privacy and also I don’t like that I am expected to wake and sleep at certain times.
I feel we should respect guests’ privacy. They may have important work assignments to finish, or some people may wish to sleep late. They would always love “alone ” time. So a separate room away from the main house would be the best choice.

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