Racecourse Marina Windsor

Entertaining guests without stress

Having a bolthole for weekend breaks can be the best fun, but if you invite guests you need quite some preparation to ensure everybody relaxes, enjoys themselves and goes home rejuvenated.

Having a bolthole for weekend breaks can be the best fun, but if you invite guests you need quite some preparation to ensure everybody relaxes, enjoys themselves and goes home rejuvenated.

Planning is key for a great short break with friends and family, but don’t be tempted to cram your cute cottage with people, unless it’s a big family occasion and you can’t avoid it.

You want your place to look lovely, so make sure it’s clean and tidy by going early and getting down to it, or finding a local cleaner to come in and give it a going-over. And don’t forget, a few vases of fresh flowers look and smell wonderful and are really welcoming.

Ask your potential guests if there’s anything they can’t tolerate (cue food allergies, demands for en suite toilets, tantrums when asked to share rooms etc.). You don’t need to bend over backwards, but last-minute refusals to sleep in your bijou converted stable or eat that fabulous steak can spoil the atmosphere right from the start.

Food and drink are important elements of a good weekend, especially if the weather is bad. You don’t want to spend all your time cooking so find some good local food suppliers who will deliver. Companies like Cook and Gourmade supply good quality ready meals, as do many restaurants and gastropubs. Don’t forget, as well as main meals, you’ll also need breakfasts, elevenses, afternoon teas and plenty of snacks – a run to the supermarket is needed pre-journey.

A great home-cooked roast on a Sunday is impressive and a compliment to your guests. If you decide on a traditional roast, keep the meal simple with just nibbles beforehand, main course and pudding. And of course, you can have a barbecue if the weather is kind. As well as the traditional offerings, pulled beef or pork in barbecue buns is easy, delicious and can be mostly prepared ahead, and it’s especially good for kids who can stuff their own buns!

When it comes to entertaining your guests, again, keep it simple. They’ll enjoy gaining some of your local knowledge, so hire bikes and ride or walk to your own favourite places. If you have a property at the glamorous Racecourse Marina Windsor, you’ll have lovely towpath walks and riverside pubs right on your doorstep. You and your guests can also visit local beauty spots or National Trust properties if the mood takes. Don’t organise too much or pressure your guests to go on trips, though – some people just want to sit in the garden with a book and a glass of wine.

For evening entertainment, you can suggest your favourite pubs and restaurants – try to find places within walking distance. Or there may be some local events on such as balloons taking off, evening vineyard walks, bands playing outdoors and so on. Staying at home with your friends after dinner is lovely, too. It’s worth building a little library of books, magazines and puzzles, and traditional board games like Monopoly or Scrabble are still a good fun as they ever were.

If you already own a second home, you’ll know by now how popular you are with your friends and family, especially if it’s close enough to the city for weekend escapes. Just make sure you don’t get booked up so you never have it to yourselves!