How To Be The Perfect Cottage Guest & Score A Repeat Invite

If you are lucky enough to find yourself with an offer to join some family or friends at the cottage, you know what a rare treat that can be. Getting a repeat invitation is rarer still. Here’s how to be the perfect cottage guest. The guidelines in this article will help score you that coveted repeat invite.


The Invite

You’ve received an invitation but now what? Be sure to make everything clear with your hosts up front. Find out if you need to bring anything from linens and towels to food (more on that later). Know when you are expected to arrive and when you are supposed to leave. Ask about the cottage rules before you arrive or when you get there. Water can be tricky at the cottage with wells and septic systems, or the dreaded outhouse. Make sure the details are as clear as possible to avoid any confusion. Another good idea is to get directions so you don’t get lost on the way up.

Just like being a guest in someone’s home, remember to be polite and helpful. The general rules of being a good house guest apply to the cottage too. Hang up your wet towel, make the bed, do the dishes, and bring your own toiletries, sunblock, and bug spray just in case. Respect your hosts’ schedule. If they are up early, don’t spend the day sleeping. Likewise, if you are an early riser, be respectful of their sleep. Make a pot of coffee for everyone and go enjoy the sunrise while your hosts sleep in.

Understand whom the invitation to visit has been extended to. Unless otherwise specified, showing up with additional people is impolite. The same thing goes for pets. Sure fluffy is a great at-home pet, but who will be affected and in what way, when you bring your fur baby up to stay. If you do have permission to bring your four-legged friend, don’t forget to stoop and scoop too. Communication is the key to making sure you are the perfect cottage guest and scoring that return visit in the future.

Cottage Dock



Knowing your hosts is key to having a good time at the cottage. What do they do for fun or relaxation while up there? Don’t expect to be entertained the entire time, but rather bring your own amusements. Read that book you have been putting off, go for a hike, or just plain enjoy the sunshine. Bring a game that everyone can enjoy and entertain your hosts instead (another great host gift by the way. See below). The cottage is a sanctuary from the craziness of technology and work for many, so give your generous hosts some space sometimes too. Being able to entertain yourself is a great skill to have and cultivate.

A word about technology and the cottage. You may not have cell phone signals, wifi at your fingertips, or even easy access to electricity. Use this visit to explore life untethered from technology. Who knows what you will discover!

Finally, cottage toys. Cottaging can get very expensive, even more so when you factor in motorized toys. An offer to fill the gas tank on the ATV, boat, or Sea-doo may be graciously declined, but you offered and that is what matters. Consider offering to fill the propane or get more charcoal for the grill, or supplying the firewood instead.

Cottage Guest



Sometimes a sticky subject, food doesn’t have to be a hard thing to manage when being the perfect cottage guest. Once invited ask if there is any food that you should bring with you. If instructed to bring “nothing”, never, for the love of all things delicious, show up empty-handed. This is by no means an invitation to clean your fridge of unwanted bits that will wind up languishing in their cottage fridge either. Use this as an opportunity to show off your culinary skills. Our BBQ Recipe Blog can help you with that.

Sometimes the people making the offer haven’t really gotten that far in the planning stage, saying to “bring nothing” because they’re not sure what they need quite yet. If that is the case, suggest that you will provide ingredients and all of the meals one whole day, or spread it out and cook one meal per day. Just remember any specialty ingredients if you’re going fancy.

Drinks follow similar rules. Don’t expect libations to be provided for your enjoyment the whole time you visit. Bring your own to enjoy if you have specific tastes, if only because some prefer Molson to Corona. Better yet, bring a few different things for everyone to enjoy. You can’t go wrong with a nice bottle of wine or two or a couple of cases of craft beer.

Cottage Guests


When it's time to leave

Your time at the cottage has been superbly enjoyable, but it’s time to leave. Make sure the places you were using are clean, remove and fold bed linens, and make sure you have all of your belongings. If you are leaving at the same time as your hosts, help them to clean up and close down the cottage. You can also help by offering to take away some of the garbage and recycling too. Ask what you can do that will make departure time easier. 

A thank you or hostess gift on arrival and sending a handwritten note after are definitely great ways to make sure you are invited back to the cottage. Gifts don’t have to be expensive or extravagant at all. Simple things that are needed, like more beach towels or a nice dish that can stay up there after you brought dinner in it are ideal. An extravagant bottle of wine that your hosts would never buy for themselves is another great gift. My Grandparents pride themselves on finding tasty wines for less than $10, a wine considered lavish could be just a little more than $10. Other ideas include something that can be enjoyed by all guests just for that weekend only; a gourmet s’mores kit, movie night in a box, chocolates, a cheese platter, nice baked goods, or even gourmet coffee are great options.

When all is said and done, a handwritten note, nice email, or a sincere thank you in person the next time you see your host is all it takes to let them know that your time at the cottage was appreciated. This is the final step to cement your perfect cottage guest persona. It will go a long way to getting you invited back.

Whether you visit others or have people up to visit, knowing how to be a perfect cottage guest and scoring that return invite is important. Are you a guest or a host? Follow Napoleon’s BBQ Recipe Blog for inspiration on foods you can cook for those cottage meals (good food alone may get you repeat invitations), and watch our Facebook and Instagram pages for more on outdoor living.

Muskoka Chair