Cottage Etiquette 101

Summer is finally here and you’ve managed to finagle a coveted cottage invite. Congrats. But as a full-time cottager who has hosted many, many friends, take it from me: Being a good guest involves offering more than just your wonderful company. Follow these six principles to ensure that your next cottage invite isn’t your last.

1. Keep quiet in the morning until all your hosts have arisen.
Cottages are made for sleeping in, and there is nothing more annoying than a noisy, early-bird guest. As a rule, keep it down until 9:30. If you must get up, tip-toe to the kitchen, make yourself a coffee, and head down to the dock.

2. Leave the electronics at home – or at least out of sight.
If you go down to my dock with anything connected to the Internet so you can “just check in with work,” you are an arse.

3. Bring a host gift – in addition to wine or booze.
It’s a given that you should bring some booze, as you’ll surely be drinking some booze. This doesn’t count as a gift. Bring something that’ll last long after you’re gone. I once received a flashlight that was powered by winding it manually, which was funny – and useful.

4. Offer to take out the recycling.
After every party I’ve thrown at my cottage, my guests have kindly sorted the recycling and taken it to the end of my road for pickup. And I am always teary with gratitude. (I’d say they all deserve manually powered flashlights for being so considerate.)

5. Offer to bring your own sheets and towels.
This tradition harkens back to the days when cottages didn’t have laundry facilities on-site. Back then, hosts would haul everything back to the city, or to a local Laundromat. Although most cottages have washer-dryers these days, after consecutive weeks of hosting, endless laundry can be a pain in the butt. At least offer to bring your own towels so your host can spend more time on the dock, and less time in the laundry room.

6. Clean the dishes – especially if you didn’t cook.
See number five: No one wants to spend his or her time cleaning up after you.

Image courtesy of Rick Harris.


3 thoughts on “Cottage Etiquette 101”

  1. The last time I was at a cottage we were told on the first night, in no uncertain terms that we were expected to clean up after ourselves. I was so paranoid I was constantly doing dishes that weekend and honestly, I had no fun. I’ve never been to another cottage since and have no desire. Thanks bossy sister-in-law!!

  2. It’s also nice to mail a handwritten card of thanks after your visit – mailed either to the cottage (if mail is possible) or to their permanent residence. A very long lost nicety for most and always appreciated.

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