Re: Question about Guest Rooms
From: Sharon Villines (
Date: Sun, 2 Feb 2020 18:17:46 -0800 (PST)
> On Feb 1, 2020, at 10:15 PM, Ellis Cohen <e.cohen [at]> wrote:

> How many units do you have?
> How many guest rooms do you have?

43 units. Two guestrooms connected by a hall and one bathroom.

We are also in DC which is often visited for conferences, tourist, protests, 
etc. Residents have hosted bus loads of students in their units, on the CH 
floor, etc.

> How big are they?

One fits a queen size bed with a small desk on one wall.
The other has twin beds with a small desk.

They aren’t big but perfectly adequate. One thing we don’t have that would be 
good is closets for linens and clothes. Free standing wardrobes take up too 
much room.

> How well are they used?

It seems to be highly variable for no obvious reason. Some times there will be 
2 weeks with no guests and then both rooms filled with queues for the next two 

The thing that I still find interesting is how often people change plans. When 
first moved in I invited friends to stay who would be excited about coming to 
DC and seeing the community. Then two weeks later they would cancel. I stopped 
reserving rooms for people unit I was absolutely sure they would show up. 
Otherwise I might have been holding the rooms that someone else wanted and then 
cancelled when it was too late for them to change plans.

When guests cancel people announce it on the members email list so others can 
use them. 

> Do you wish you had a different # of rooms, or that they were a different 
> size?

Sharing the bathroom is a problem for my friends. And the fact that the 
bathroom a short hall connects the 2 rooms with the bathroom also means there 
is too much opportunity for noise. People talking on the phone, etc. The sound 
proofing isn’t wonderful.

> When guests aren't using them, do you reuse the space in other ways?

We have some people who schedule conference calls and will use the room for 1-2 
hours because they work at home and the nanny is there with their children. But 
otherwise no. There isn’t room to hold meetings there or set up any other kind 
of use. They are just bedrooms. 

> Anything else it would be useful to know?

It is wonderful to have an online calendar for reservations. In addition to 
ease of making reservations, it also makes it easy to check when the rooms are 

Definitely the room needs a team to take care of it. Be sure the sheets are not 
missing, the rooms are cleaned, etc. 

We have a limit for reservations of 10 days or 5 days if both rooms are used by 
one person. But residents can request longer stays if no one has reserved the 
room or they have a special situation. 

One use for the rooms that has been a godsend is actually for residents to have 
a place to stay when their units were flooded or being painted. Or their air 
conditioning was broken in July. Or have no heat in the winter. They usually 
stay as long as necessary unless the rooms are already reserved. Sometimes they 
just sleep there. This is a use we hadn’t expected.

Someone else mentioned teens using the room for unauthorized purposes. We have 
had only 1-2 instances of that (that we know of) but the doors are locked when 
not in use—or occasionally being aired out. The guest room keys are unique to 
the guest rooms. Other rooms use one CH key.

Hosts must be here when their guests are here. And present when they use the 
kitchen (this is lax but the host is responsible for messes.) If the people are 
from another cohousing community, they still have to have a host/sponsor to 
answer questions, be contacted if there is a problem, etc. When loose people 
are wandering around it feels like an obligation to be helpful and aware if 
they are having problems with something (no toilet paper). And it gets old when 
different guest are coming and going frequently. If someone reserves the guest 
room they need to care for their guests or arrange another contact for 
them—Harry will be here today while I’m in Mexico.

Guests also aren’t aware of the acoustics or they slam the door (10 times in 15 
minutes). It is nicer to be able to call the host and ask them to explain 
things to their guests.

I thought that would be a short answer! Basically, once you get a system down 
for reservations, a few minimal expectations, understandings about sheets and 
towels being washed and replaced, and cleaning, the rooms are not a labor or 
time sink.

Sharon Villines
Takoma Village Cohousing, Washington DC

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