Style Court

Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes 2006-2016


The Hospitable Guest Bathroom

Happily Vogue's 1960s suggestions for a hospitable guest bathroom are still relatively attainable. The basic idea is to supply your guests with "everything they may need or want, within reason," so that they don't have to ask for any necessities or conveniences.

The most crucial elements are sufficient towels and a bathmat. "Terry cloth robes (hung on the bathroom door) are almost always used and appreciated, although admittedly they are a luxurious touch."

"Good soap in bath and hand sizes should be provided -- but guest sizes are a miser's invention." Ideally the soap should be brand new; worn-down slivers should be avoided at all costs.

"An efficient nail brush is indispensable, and so are a supply of fresh toothbrushes and a tube of toothpaste."

"A guest bathroom should have at least one electric outlet, and it is thoughtful to provide a magnifying mirror and a shower cap."

Two or more drinking glasses and tissues are vital. An extra roll of toilet tissue should be stored in an obvious place.

"The medicine cabinet can be as well stocked as a drugstore" if you choose and if your budget allows. "These items are basic: aspirin, iodine, a stomach settler, small adhesive bandages, and dental floss." Also consider "sun oil and sunburn soother." Cotton balls, bath oils and bath powder are other nice touches.

"If a guest must share a bathroom with one or more family members, he should be given a towel bar, even if this means that family towels must be removed and temporarily kept in bedrooms."

Any family bathrobes or nightclothes should be removed too. "All personal litter such as razors and combs should be neatly stowed away," and guests should be offered space to store their toilet kits. "Many a guest has gone without a drinking glass or tissues rather than bother his hostess or call attention to an omission that might possibly embarrass her."

All quotes are from Vogue's Book of Etiquette, 1969. This is the first passage I've come across where cigarettes were nor referenced. But note the mention of sun oil rather than sun screen.

Image one above is a bathroom designed by Schuyler Samperton

Image two, Carolina Irving's bathroom as seen in World of Interiors

Image three, a Tim Clarke shower as seen in House Beautiful 2003

Millicent Fenwick's version of Vogue's Book of Etiquette, 1948, is available through Amazon, and several readers have found the 1969 edition at rock bottom prices through eBay and other online sources.


An Aesthete's Lament said...

Might I also point out the need for good housekeeping in a guest bath? As a host it's a good idea to wipe, rinse, and tidy, at least twice a day. Or at least check in twice a day to determine the condition of the room.

Style Court said...

A.L. --

Oh yes. An absolute must. Thanks for highlighting this.

Anonymous said...

Another fun post! Interesting that there is no mention of a hair dryer, do you suppose it's because they were going to the Beauty Parlor to have their hair done?

Style Court said...


That's a really good point. I don't know when blow dryers came on the scene. Judging by movies with Julie Christie etc., seems like blow dryers would have been around in '69.

GrannySmithGreen said...

I want housekeeping to check the master bath twice a day!

MIMILEE said...

What wonderful suggestions for then and certainly NOW. Good hosting hasn't changed at all, has it?......I am keeping this one for further reference!

Ivy Lane said...

Great post! I am going to be READY for the holidays!!! HA HA!! Keepin' with that "mantra" Courtney!

The Peak of Chic said...

These are all excellent points. The other one that is mentioned often is that you should sleep once in your guest room to see if it's comfortable. I did that once, and let me tell you it was an eye opener!

pve design said...

A dear "country mouse" would host "town mice" (me & hubby) and one of the most favorite things that I loved was the bathroom, fitted with vintage collections of art, and wonderful linens, cotton balls, q-tips all stored in crystal containers. Even the soap was decanted into a vintage container. The twin beds were dressed in white with antique quilts at the feet. Bath robes hung in the closet and fresh slippers by the bed. I remember those days fondly.

Style Court said...

I'm loving everyone's ideas.

Especially PVE your idea of decanting everything in pretty glass jars. I have Q-tips in a jar now, but not enough room for more bottles

Michelle said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

umm... did the post above feel like spam or unrelated to guest bathrooms to anyone else?

Style Court said...

I'll just take that one down. Thanks Anon.