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What is a Guesthouse?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 04 November 2016
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A guesthouse is a structure which is intended for the use of guests. Such buildings typically appear on large properties and estates, and they may be close to the main house or set apart, depending on the taste of the designer. A guesthouse can be extremely useful, especially for people who like to entertain frequently, and such a feature will generally enhance property value significantly, as in addition to housing guests, a guesthouse can also be used as a rental, potentially generating income for the owners of the property.

The features of a guesthouse vary widely. In some cases, the structure is designed very simply, with a bedroom and a bathroom and perhaps a lounging area. In other instances, a guesthouse is like an entirely separate house, complete with a kitchen and other amenities. Typically, the guesthouse is designed to blend in with the rest of the property, creating a uniform look and feel.

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For long-term guests, a guesthouse can be an excellent solution to the common problem of feeling overwhelmed by guests, as the owners of the property can be assured of peace and quiet in the main house when they need it. Such a structure can also be convenient when someone in the main house is ill, allowing guests a comfortable place to stay where they do not need to worry about disturbing the invalid. A guesthouse can also be used to house live-in staff, like nurses and nannies, ensuring that the residents of the main house have access to the services of live-in staff while these staff also have a private area.

Etiquette surrounding the use of a guesthouse varies. In some cases, for example, guests are expected to clean up after themselves and to leave the guesthouse stocked as they found it. In other cases, maids may clean the guesthouse, in which case the guests should typically plan on leaving a tip. In some cases, the owners of the main house may request a small sum for rental of the guesthouse, treating it like an exclusive vacation rental, especially if the owners of the property have frequent guests or guests who stay for a long time. This sum covers things like the use of utilities and a phone, along with routine maintenance, and the owners generally do not profit from it.

People with adult children may use their guesthouses to house visiting children and their families, allowing them some space away from the parents. Adult children may also take advantage of a guesthouse as a place to live, typically temporarily, while they seek out jobs after graduating from college or while school is out for the summer. In some cases, parents may charge a token sum of rent to encourage their children to be responsible.

In some areas, a guesthouse is used explicitly as a vacation rental, although friends may receive special rates. This practice is common among people who live in particularly prized vacation destinations, especially if they are trying to pay off a mortgage. In some cases, this separate structure may be turned into a rental for long-term tenants; in these instances, the guesthouse is typically reasonably sized, allowing one or more people to actually live there.

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