Wednesday, 29 May 2013

How to host a sofa guest - The fine art of having a friend kip on the couch.

With city rental prices nearing Armageddon levels, few of us have spare rooms these days, so having a guest stay at your house usually means making them kip on a trusty couch or blow-up mattress. But just because you can't offer your holidaying friends all the mod cons doesn't mean you can't win karmic brownie points ( and offers of reciprocal couch surfing) by being a near-perfect host. If your mates have travelled from interstate or overseas they might be staying with you a while. In the interests of not clawing each other's eyes out, here are the rules to live by.

THE BASICS: Having a wee spring clean before you guest arrives avoids the impression that you normally live like a mad, unwashed hermit. Even if that's true, some level of neatness will wake them feel more welcome. Vacuum the couch where they'll be lying their head, and have clean bed linen, pillows and towels ready to go. Dig out your spare key, or have one cut. so they can come and go at will. Make sure there's some food and beer in the fridge, and check that everyone else in the house is cool with your sofa-lending arrangements - a shirty flatmate is not the best greeting for a wearing traveller. 

MAKE SOME SPACE: Your guest will probably have some luggage with them, so unless you fancy seeing their jeans and undies strewn about your living room, make some designated space for their shit - chances are, it won't stay in their bag. If you have room, clear a shelf for them in a cupboard where they can organise their stuff. This will keep it contained and out everyone's way. If all your regular storage space is already rammed, you can set up a spare laundry basket or large tote next to the couch so at leat there's some sort of receptacle for them to stow away their things.

LOCAL INFO: Take you visiting pal on a little reconnaissance mission around your neighbourhood so they have a vague idea of where everything is: bus stops, train stations, supermarkets, cafes, a map of nearby streets, marking out places they'll need to know. If you're feeling particularly generous, make a little pack with tourist pamphlets, transport timetables, restaurant menus and other info, and charge up a spare travel card with a bit of cash so they'll at least be able to get around of their first day in town. Also let them know if there are any dodgy areas to avoids or, conversely, awesome places they must see.

GUIDE THEM WELL: Playing tourist in your own city is ridiculously fun. Take your guest around all those local landmarks you don't usually bother with, and use any visiting foreigner as an excuse to go the zoo and pet a kangaroo - they love that stuff, and you get to act impressively Australian and crack out your best Steve Irwin impression. Check street press and online guides for cool events, exhibitions, markets or gigs you can drag your pal to, and make sure you force them to eat whatever the local specialities are. Some local beer or plonk may help in these proceedings. As well as the big, obvious, touristy stuff, show off your favourite places - cafes, shops, parks - so they really get the personal ' your name here ' tour. And before they leave, make sure to extract an invatation to their places sometime. Couch space in London, Berlin, Darwin or Ballarat is nothing to be sneezed at, after all.

Here's what you can check out :