What’s in YOUR guest room?

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In a play on that funny TV commercial (“What’s in YOUR Wallet?”) it’s time to be thinking about this detail as summer entertaining kicks into gear. And here in Newport, it’s all about houseguests…

"Sleeping Around"

The Newport Flower Show is the official start of “the season” and that is right around the corner. Here’s a peek at some of private Newport’s more comfy guest rooms—

Parterre’s third floor tower offering has faux-painted walls in a whimsical take on stone.


Blue is always a good choice for an ocean town’s guest room. At Berkeley House, Lilybet obviously agrees. (Take note of the use of the scallop detail in the drapery fabric.) And the bathroom honors details, also, in the shutter motif picked from the wallpaper. In Berkeley House’s second guest room, the “set the stage” detail is a curvaceous shell mirror.

Berkeley House

Striking an historic note, Hammersmith Farm’s ocean view guest room was originally reserved for Kennedy era dignitaries—from Nehru to Adlai Stevenson—when visiting the “summer White House.” The present owners, Eaddo and Peter Kiernan, have retained all the  original furniture (with updated fabrics) and room arrangement.

Hammersmith Farms

Speaking of the ocean…Anne and Sam Mencoff’s historic boat house, restored with the services of respected yacht builders, gives a guest the comforts of being on land while still hearing the waves lap against the house.

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A Swedish-inspired guest room at Parterre includes a day-bed placed in an alcove created especially for this purpose. The romantic feel is carried into the bathroom with a skirted sink and Wedgewood detailed wall sconces.


At Quholme, the tiny guest room’s two-canopy beds are nestled into the eaves, which are painted in bold, happy pink stripes.


De Gournay hand-painted-on-silk wall covering gives a guest the feeling that they are sleeping in a fanciful garden at Parterre.


In a Bellevue Avenue home, a second floor landing was designed as much for the owners to enjoy—family pictures, generous book cases, a window seat looking out upon a park-like setting of beech trees—as it was to serve as a sitting room extension to the two guest rooms that open onto this cozy spot.


And now to some details that no host should be without. For starters, I referred back to my second entertaining primer, Pardee Guide to Great Weekend Entertaining. Compiled after many chats with hostesses I admire across the country—and who have provided me with graciously considered details, starting first with my mother—I offer the following overview.

Pamperings for the Bed and Bath

As a rule, separate families do not usually live under the same roof, a fact that is thrown out the window come house party time. All the more reason for a host to give very careful thought to that space which a guest may consider his or her “own.” That means not only giving thought to creature comforts, but anything that helps create a homey environment at the same time that it gives guests a place to retreat to (which can sometimes be as much an interlude for the hostess as it is for the guest).

Guest Room Present and Flowers

Place books on a bedside ottoman in your guest room, chosen with friends’ special interests in mind.

Decorating with Books

Bedroom Accoutrements

Wifi Passsword & Keys

Appreciated Sundries

Guest Room Bedside Table

Bathroom Amenities

Bathroom Towels

Basket of Necessities and Toiletries

The elegant hotels that have sprung up today raise the bar on what travelers expect. Not that a private home is expected to “compete” but we’re all more aware today of comforts that are still available to us even if we have left home—my favorite, a plush terry cloth robe to wrap yourself in when you get out of the shower, or want to “put your feet up” after a long day of touring and/or shopping. And how welcome that is—plus, you don’t have to take up half of your suitcase with that bulky robe — and slippers to match. And be sure to  include sufficient good quality hangers—sturdy wooden pant and suit; padded satin; practical plastic and perhaps a decorative set (here, Baroque fuzzy felt in chartreuse to add a bit of humor to the closet.)

Also, a sturdy, wooden luggage rack with thick straps in coordinating fabric (or needle point) is a necessity.

And finally—

Items I Recommend Keeping on Hand for Unexpected Guests

 Happy Summer Entertaining!

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About Bettie Bearden Pardee

Author of Private Newport and Living Newport, garden furniture designer (The Parterre Bench), national lecturer, and entertaining expert. An honoree for the second year on "The Salonniere 100 America's Best Party Hosts", she was also the host and creative producer of "The Presidential Palate: Entertaining at the White House".

6 thoughts on “What’s in YOUR guest room?

  1. A friend of mine sent me a link to your blog!! I adore it. I have spent the past hour perusing your past posts. I signed up for your email. Enjoy your week.

    1. What lovely news! Thank you Katie. We’re going to be busy this summer, so stay tuned; I bet you’ll love the series on the Newport Flower Show…

  2. Your list is perfectly thorough. As a frequent guest, the one thing I find essential (as I often forget to pack mine) is a pedestal magnifying mirror, so one can put their makeup on.

    1. You are so right, Frances! Thanks for that reminder, and enjoy my full summer of news from private Newport.

    1. Thank you for those kind words…it’s such fun to write these, especially when I hear that they are enjoyed…please keep in touch!

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