DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have owned a very lovely bed and breakfast in a boutique community for 15 years now. In the last year, I have noticed an upswing in guests being wantonly destructive.
For example, we had a woman dye her hair bright red in her bathroom sink and then wipe her hands on the vintage wallpaper, leaving unfixable stains. This guest then disputed the repair charge, which left me with the repapering bill.
Could you recommend a gentle and non-alienating way to ask guests to not to destroy my home? Or perhaps verbiage for a sign? I really do generally enjoy the guests, but I simply cannot afford to repeatedly replace wallpaper and antique paintings that have been stolen right off the wall.
GENTLE READER: Shortly after hoteliers started calling their customers “guests,” they learned the downside of advising the clientele to make themselves at home.
There is, in Miss Manners’ vocabulary, no such thing as a paying guest. She mentions this to provide context for her solution: You are in a business relationship with your customers, which not only gives you the right, but sets the expectation, that you will establish clear terms.
A deposit against damage, and a written explanation that it may be used to return the room to the condition in which it was found, is reasonable and practical. No list of the ways in which a client could damage the property will ever be complete -- and it might give them ideas.