Rooms & Small Luxuries

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I changed my username (sorry) after deciding it would be best not to be searchable. Duh. So -- I'm the one switching away from ABB/VacationByRipoff and becoming a B&B at the start of the year, if all goes as planned. Very much looking forward to kicking VR_O to the curb.

I'm concerned that after 2 years of ABB'ing I'm missing something important. We are currently staying in one of the rooms now, one each in turn, for the rest of the month to see if we feel we need anything more.

ANYWAY: Rooms and small luxuries questions---

Our house is not a huge, grand old thing. It is very farmhouse, decorated in a trendy, yet timeless manner (easily updated/changed as styles change). No library, no massive fireplace (there is an enamel woodstove). Two of the rooms are not the large comfy things with space for a desk and reading chair -- I figure those are "hiker's rooms." Knowing all of this, I am trying to make everything ELSE as fantastic as possible to make up for the room size. Handmade organic soap, great breakfast, wine and cheese in the evening, complementary canvas carry bags, all the makings for s'mores and a fire lighting/tending service, welcoming tea/lemonade and cookies upon arrival, for example.

- Aside from a comfy bed, a decent pillow selection for various preferences, robes, plenty of closet space, and a dresser... what do guests expect in their room? We have books, decor and NatGeo magazines, and games in the common area. I've stayed in a number of B&Bs and just can't think of anything unexpected that I appreciated other than great light control (we have blackout and light filtering options on windows), bedding selections, and a mini-fridge stocked with water and a few snacks.

- TV: we have one in the common area, though I truly hate even having that. We are on 28 acres backing up to a massive state park, lots of forest. It's a nature getaway more than anything here. Is my hubby right, do we need TVs in rooms? Seems to me, nowadays most people bring their ipads and laptops, so it's more about the internet connection IMHO than the boob tube.

- We don't have a hot tub. Yet. It will be a while, as it will be Ryokan-style. We will have walking sticks for convenience on trails, and yoga mats so they can take their practice out to the barn or barn deck. We have maps and touring itineraries for self-guided trips around the area. I have a picnic basket they can borrow, and we have canvas carry bags in the works.

 

What are some small luxuries that you have found make guests feel thought of? TIA!

TheBeachHouse's picture
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We have a hot tub, but no one knows about it.  It is just for us.   Smiling

Each house is different.   We provide a front porch and a koi pond seating area - both of which have ocean views.  So I don't think people miss the hot tub.    I imagine if we were a skiing destination, we would want a hot tub.

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TheBeachHouse's picture
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We like a TV in our room, so we put them in.   The PO did not have them.   We pretty much run the place as a place we would love to stay.  So, a refrigerator for the wine, a TV to check the weather, an extra set of towels, a seating area in each room and an information book.  

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I rather think that is the secret of a successful operation, not so much the items we put in rooms, but that we style and equip our rooms in a manner that we would personally enjoy and cultivate guests that think the same

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Lee2014's picture
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   At the one place we have TVs in all the rooms but at the other place which is more luxurious only three rooms have TVs.  You want a TV, book the room with one.  They aren't the most popular ones at all...

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Generic's picture
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Personally, we don't book a room without a TV. But we end up complaining because so many don't allow you to hook into the HDMI, which is what we want to do. We aren't interested in the cable TV.

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Lee2014's picture
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  Remember to ask before booking whether you can hook into their HDMI, then you can be happy!

Generic's picture
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Have 2-in-1 laptop now, so we can turn the screen over if we are stuck. But it's annoying. Almost as annoying as having 1080p TVs and having only 480p TV decoders. In fact, I now note any hotel that I stay with that doesn't have HD channels when they have a HD TV. What's the point of having an HD TV if you are going to give me the same crappy picture.

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Hello.

I would much prefer a chair to a bureau or dresser. I never put my clothes in one although I do use the closet. Many of my rooms did not have a bureau but I did find some great comfy chairs in the local used furniture stores to round out what I had.  I put one in each room and a footrest - in one small space, the footrest slid under the chair. Must you have bureaus? 

TV's in all the rooms, wall mounted, yes. Sorry to say since you don't like it --- but people like their shows and their sports and the weather ---  I can see pretty much all that on my cell phone, tablet or laptop (which I no longer bring when traveling) but prefer a larger screen!  I recently stayed in a place with TV in the common area. It rained (I mean RAINED so bad you couldn't go out due to street flooding) and there wasn't agreement about what to watch on that TV. Then the power went out and along with it the cable. They had a generator so we had lights, and plugged in an old vcr and it was fun to see their old movie collection. I curled up with a book in my room. 

Hot tub, I personally wouldn't use but I love a fire pit or chiminea. Yes, it takes watching. 

To echo those who've spoken before me, I did my best to provide the amenities guests ask for. If they ask 'Do you have tv in the rooms?' you'll know it's wanted. Some will be fine without, some will go elsewhere. 

 

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In some rooms, the bureau may actually fit in the closet. Two of the rooms have massive closet space, serious overkill. One room (the smallest) that was a porch does not have a closet, and has an old wardrobe in it instead. No room for a chair there.

I've been surprised at how many people do use the bureaus -- I generally don't, unless I am staying for several days. I tend to live out of the suitcase, and hang up the other items. I've met folks who "have" to unpack, even if it's one night. I don't get it, but differences make the world go round.

In the 2 years as a VacationRipoff host... only one potential guest asked if there were TVs in the room. Nobody has complained about only the one TV, and ... nobody has ever called me to ask how the Smart TV works. So, I think waiting to see what people ask about most, learning our clientele, is not a bad way to go.

Generic's picture
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Glasses and wine glasses. Bottle of water (fancy bottle, tap water - bottled water around here is a ripoff... they even bottle our tap water to sell to idiots who can't read on the bottle where it says "source: public water.", shower caps, bathroom tumblers, cotton swabs, etc.

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Okay, I'm the odd kid here, 8 room mom & pop motel in resort area, but share many common interests, more with folks here than with a large hotel. My comments reflect what we do and my personal choices if I were your guest.

Me, I love looking at the grand old homes, yet as a guest, I'm ordinary folks and would likely be a bit out of place in one of those GRAND places. Be yourself and cultivate guests that like you for who you are, then everyone is happy

Items we put in a room for the guest and things we do for the guest must be a balance between cost and use, ultimately the cost gets passed to the guest so the question is if there is a real value to every guest. We use a good quality soap/shampoo, yet it is a mass produced item. Question does offering wine require a license or put you in any danger? Don't burden yourself too much, we started in our 40's, but after nearly 30 years here, funny how you run out of energy, yet I don't want to retire away from what I enjoy.

We have TV's, expected for our operation, you can mount them on the wall and get the type where you can limit volume (we don't)

We have mountain well water, I don't see that advantage of bottle water over that which is available from the tap, we do put a few store brand colas in each room as a welcome offering. Rooms have tiny fridge, microwave and coffee.

Our rooms are decent size, country cabin look, I play with wood, so many items are created to fit my space, happy to offer thoughts if you like, my nightstand hangs from the wall to make cleaning under easier.

I would check out health department rules on a hot tub and insurance liability before adding as simple things at times get complicated.

Your best extras will depend on your guests, it takes time, what do guests request, make a note for the future, what negative does a guest mention in a review, can you meet that need in the future, what guest action gives you a headache, how can we/you change to avoid that problem, at least that's how I learn.

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Your best extras will depend on your guests, it takes time, what do guests request, make a note for the future, what negative does a guest mention in a review, can you meet that need in the future, what guest action gives you a headache, how can we/you change to avoid that problem, at least that's how I learn.

I agree. It's been interesting to note the differences between VR_O and ABB. We have a solid 5 star on ABB. VR_O, with its exorbitant fees, I think makes folks grumpy. Or it's a slightly different clientele. The 4-star VR_O reviews never say anything negative. They just don't like to hand out 5 stars. We had one 3 star... there was a problem with the water but they never told us! I always check with the guest midway and they didn't reply. It was a simple fix, would have taken 5 minutes. Sigh. Part of the pressure to switch over to B&B... if we are here, we will know if anything goes wrong.

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While we all need to have income we also enjoy the people that visit, I fear that without the people contact I'd just be the janitor and yardman and it wouldn't be much fun. I think you will enjoy operating as a B&B

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That's really how I feel now -- like all I do is make a place spotless for people I meet for 5 minutes at check-in to tear up. I make everything pretty for them to enjoy, and I miss being here. We are in love with our place, and I have always envisioned it as a B&B. The garden walkways, the porch and deck and the welcoming kitchen/dining setup is all perfect for that morning socializing that I often enjoyed while managing my friend's B&B. Yes there are guests you wish would go outside and sit on the porch with their coffee rather than talk your ear off while you try to cook... but by and large, I enjoyed all the conversation.

I'm looking forward to it, for a host of reasons (pun intended).

 

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We are small, with 2 suites and a stand-alone cottage.  We attract guests who want luxury, are willing to pay for it but do not want to break the bank by going to the local resorts.  We have a knock-out location in a National Park that is very seasonal in nature.  Suites are in the historic main house, Greek Revival Farmhouse style with dedicated guest entrance, living room and refrigerator/coffee, tea station.  We are in our 29th year and rated #1 in our town and among to the top 30 out of over 200 in the area according to  TA.  Adults only, no pets.  And we are winding down our inn keeping with an eye on eventually closing the house to guests and just offering the cottage.  Here's my take:

Out-door seating away from the elements is always a plus.  If you can also make it add to your curb appeal that would be an additional plus.

A welcome book that includes your top choices for restaurants in the area, or a separate restaurant book with menus is important....not all of your guests are able or want to look up menus on-line.  

TV's in the room.  Not all of our guests use them but some do and they would not be happy if they did not have one in their room.

Most importantly......Great service and warm hospitality.  For us that means I bend over backward to make their pre-arrival stress-free.  With prompt replies to their questions, confirmations and check-in reminders clear and concise, and a newsletter that helps to build their anticipation for their stay.  I am the detail person, DH is the heart of the B+B and does the greeting, check-in and handles the guests once they arrive.  He is a warm, gentle person who puts guests at ease and makes them feel welcomed when they set foot in the door.  Me? not so much....too focused on the details of making everything perfect and forgetting about the warm fuzzies that most guests need to make the stay memorable. I do all the cooking and offer a lovely, gracious breakfast experience.

"Handmade organic soap, great breakfast, wine and cheese in the evening, complementary canvas carry bags, all the makings for s'mores and a fire lighting/tending service, welcoming tea/lemonade and cookies upon arrival, for example."....Aside from the arrival goodies the other extras are just that.  Offer them if you want but they are not what will bring your guests back for their 2nd or 3rd stay. And be careful...those who do return will be expecting those amenities.  Be prepared to want to ditch the afternoon/evening socializing and expense of canvas bags, samores etc after a few years.  Inn keeping is not for the feint of heart and if you are busy you will need some time for yourself or you will burn out.

 

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Wow, all the replies are so fabulous! Thank you all.

We have a covered front porch, and a smaller back porch that is also covered. I'd love to screen in the back porch but that will not happen for a while yet, the roofline goes partway over a kitchen window, so we would need to extend the porch to include it.) We have outdoor wicker furniture with cushions and pillows, hanging plants, places for your drink or snack to rest, and outdoor string lights for evening ambience. We have a couple of throws that I don't mind if guests take outside with them on chilly days.

We have the welcome book, and I created "tours" of the area based on what they would be interested in, with suggested places to stop for coffee or lunch/dinner en route.

I'm very quick to answer texts and emails, except to the brides who will message after hours. Guests arriving and staying, of course, I respond to asap. I am working on the newsletter & blog.

I took care of a friend's B&B years ago for a summer, and loved it. I made my list of things I would do differently based on that experience, and now after 2 years of airbb...  if you put heart in your listing as we have and don't have someone else doing all the cleaning for you, each has its challenges.

Be prepared to want to ditch the afternoon/evening socializing and expense of canvas bags, samores etc after a few years.  Inn keeping is not for the feint of heart and if you are busy you will need some time for yourself or you will burn out.

Very good advice.

 

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Are you the luxury market?

If not, Gillum has good advice.  

We have a self catering 'cabin', plus two full B and B rooms, one large, one very small.  Cabin and large room have flat screen with movie subscription  No room in the small room for a flat screen or else we would have added it. They get a welcome snack, a short note with local touring and dining options.  Amenities: soap, shampoo and conditioner.  Apothecary jar with makeup wipes and a few Q-tips. Trash emptied and towels changed daily for stays of more than one night.  Full breakfast.

That's it.  

We're not the highest priced, nor the lowest for our area.  We have direct booking through our website, plus our rooms are on Air.  No other OTAs.  

11 years, still enjoying the ride. 

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I think two of our rooms could have TV. The two smaller ones, that would be a challenge to add.

I like the apothecary jar.

We are semi-luxury. We have a barn that is used for weddings, parties and corporate events, and we have been working on getting featured in magazines... one wedding was featured on Junebug Weddings, and now Martha Stewart Weddings is picking up part of that same wedding, and a Canadian wedding TV show asked permission to use one of the images too (I don't think either of the latter will bring us any business, really, but it's neat info).

So, we often have a younger clientele, at least among the wedding set. Sometimes it's a houseful of bridesmaids, other times it's the bride and groom's parents and grandparents, all getting to know each other better under our roof.

We've also drawn the newly retired, folks who enjoy a cushy spot while checking out the hiking trails.

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I have a 1912 Foursquare - not a mansion, not fancy, does have nice woodwork, 2 rooms that share a bsthroom - neither is LARGE but have aqueen bed in each so notalot of floor space) and 1 large room with king bed (bookcase headboard since no room for night stands) with a private bathroom created by taking half of a 4th room. I do have flat screen TVs in each room (on the wall behind the door in one room) because if there is a big game, they want to see it and many of my guests arestill using flip phones - no streaming for them.

Handmade organic soap, great breakfast, wine and cheese in the evening, complementary canvas carry bags, all the makings for s'mores and a fire lighting/tending service, welcoming tea/lemonade and cookies upon arrival, for example.  My guests come in atmany different times. I unboldedthe things I do NOT do. Rather than work harder doing things they are not interested in (they arrive and want to go to supper or go to bed), I have small/medium size reed baskets I made that hold 2 bananas, 3 to 4 apples, and a couple snack packages on the dresser or mantle in case they get a case of the munchies. Bananas and apples that are left behind can be used in cooking - treats go to my saddlebags (aka thighs).Good linens, clean room, and (sometimes) good conversation will do it. You have NOTHING to make up for (took me years to realize this).

One suggestion: I have surge strips with 6 outlets at each side of each bed, a USB 6-port charging tower in each room, and lighting next to the beds on both sides (the bookcase headboard has 2 battery bendable neck lights on top so they can be aimed and put wherever needed). My shared bathroom has a deadbolt lock on it-and I have the ONLY keys. I also have a small fire pit in the back yard if they want to sitout in the evening - and a glider on the front porch. I now (finally) have a sitting room/biz center for guests to use.

Rather than listing what you do not have, list the great things you DO have. THAT is what will bring happy guests-focus on marketing to those guests.

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This sounds kind of like our place -- it is a four-over-four in design, we added woodwork and detail. Two Queen rooms, one King, and then downstairs is the former screened porch that became a bedroom before we bought it. That room is a full, and I suspect will eventually just become our office).

Yours is another vote for TVs. They're such ugly things. LOL. But y'all are right and it's not all about ME.

You have NOTHING to make up for (took me years to realize this).Thank you.

I have surge strips with 6 outlets at each side of each bed, a USB 6-port charging tower in each room... Excellent idea. I have added surge strips with 6 outlets in rooms where I found guests kept unplugging the bedside lights for their devices, but some people certainly have more than others and extras wouldn't hurt even in the rooms where this doesn't seem to be an issue.

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Another  reason for the outlet strips is the CPAP machines many older guests have. They need to plug them in next to the bed. I have had many guests who flashed HUGE smiles when they saw that need was met.

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gillumhouse wrote:

Another  reason for the outlet strips is the CPAP machines many older guests have. They need to plug them in next to the bed. I have had many guests who flashed HUGE smiles when they saw that need was met.

I spent $50 apiece to buy alarm clocks with 2 outlets and 2 USB ports on them. I resorted to posting a sign that said "CHARGE YOUR STUFF HERE!" after guests kept unplugging the lights on the nightstands. I'm sorry that the SO with the CPAP sleeps on the left side of the bed rather than the right, but I tried...

Also had a guest with a CPAP tell me I should stock distilled water for CPAP users. Really? With a Walgreens 3 blocks away (you can see the sign from our front steps), I would think you could take care of that yourself. 

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notAgrandma wrote:

I spent $50 apiece to buy alarm clocks with 2 outlets and 2 USB ports on them. 

I've had it with the alarm clocks. Very few use them, but I had to check them every time we flipped a room, to make sure the previous guest didn't set an alarm that was still set to go off at 6 a.m. every day, waking up the next guest. And most turned the thing facing the wall, or threw a pillow or towel over it to block the light in their face all night.

I unplugged them and put them in a drawer. If someone wants one, it's there, but it's no longer in people's face!

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gillumhouse's picture
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Agree with you on that one. Go buy some yourself.

Arks's picture
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Know your clientele. What sort of people will be staying with you? 

You say, "TV: we have one in the common area, though I truly hate even having that."

I would just suggest that you consider, the amenities are not for YOU and what you want. The amenities are for them, and what THEY, the guests, want.

If your clientele are younger, then yes, many or most will have their tablets and phones and do fine as long as you have a fast Internet connection with enough bandwidth to service multiple users at the same time.

If your guests are mostly older, they'll probably expect and appreciate a TV in the room. TV's have become pretty cheap. Flat screens take up very little space, especially if you mount them on the wall.

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Y'all are right and it's not all about ME and my relationship with TVs. I think they are ugly, noisy intrusive things that distract people from the important things in life. I sound like a grumpy old hag... I'm in my 40s... soon as my hubby moved into my little apartment some 19 years ago, he brought a TV with him. Even 22 year old me didn't like that thing. *laughs*

happykeeper's picture
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OTOH- We have intentionally operated for 13 years without TV. Nary a complaint and many compliments for not having them. On the rare day when someone just has to see the Wimbledon finale etc., we send them to the local bar.  

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Tom
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Same.  Wired cable to rooms, but opted to have only a big TV in guest lounge.  Sports fans can hang out there.  Everyone else is on tablet.  I don't have to worry about TV left on too long or turned up too loud.  If we have a guest with very limited mobility, I have a 30 inch TV I can put in a room on special request for a longer stay.

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So some folks say "yes must have" others say not so much. We are about to have a local bar, with plenty of TVs. Good thinking.

I'd really rather encourage folks here to enjoy the peace of the forest. Owlsong at night, crickets, foxes... just the quiet.

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2 comfortable chairs and reading lamps. I hate when the only place to sit is the bed.

Hot water for showers.

Heat in the winter, controlled by moi.

Cooling in the summer, ditto on controls. Even if that involves opening a window and turning on a fan.

Enough pillows to sit up in bed.

Some semblance of sound deadening. Even if all that means is runners in the halls so you don't hear someone's pointy shoes clomping thru the building.

There you have my peeves.

Do I care about TV? No. Specialty soap? No. Water in a fridge? No. The fridge itself? No.

You'd be amazed how many places skip the important details, but have luxury linens and precious decor.

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Ah, I am sad for the small rooms. LOL -- no room for comfy chairs. I agree, they sure would be nice to have.

I'll add a runner in the hall, for sure.

At present, only one bedroom has a small rug (5x8). I was thinking they all should, just the woven washable flatweave type that is style at present, with a good non-skid under it, for additional sound deadening. Overall, it's a pretty quiet house.

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We are also by a wooded area, a great local bike trail, and one of the amazing great lakes. No TV's in the rooms ever... Only one in a common space. Most of our guests are here to go and do and be outdoors. I don't want to facilitate the boob-toobers. We have bookshelves full of books, puzzles and internet. Most guests are at least courteous of other guests and don't dominate the one TV that is available (plus we have an 11 pm quiet time posted).

We can't stand the noise either - had one guest here for 4 days, didn't go anywhere and was hard of hearing. All we heard from the 2nd floor for those 4 days was news commercials and ridiculous shows. I never enjoyed so much peace and quiet when they checked-out.

I love your idea of the yoga mats and coordinating the area tours/explorations. We partner with an equipment rental place in town that gives our guests discounts on bikes, kayaks, sups, and wine tours! There's always something to do in the area and where we live is "the destination" so our B&B doesn't have to be! We saturated everyone with hospitality and comfy beds for sleeping and gourmet food for eating!

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I love this! There's lots to do in the nearby city, and I am sure we could partner with the standing paddleboard folks and such. Everything outdoors to do is here, unless it has to do with snow or deep sea diving. The hanggliding place is just down the road, maybe we could work out something with them as well.

The B&B I took care of one summer had only one TV, in the common area. Other than the occasional guest turning it on for news after breakfast, most never looked at it. Some watched a movie at night. That inn is also in a wooded area, tucked in a neighborhood but sitting on three acres. Lovely old home.

Morticia's picture
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One of my main concerns with putting in TV in the rooms was the exact scenario of a hard of hearing guest watching it all night.

We got adjustable tv's. We set the max volume. The sound resets to the lowest setting when it's turned off and only goes so loud and no more. Which also means guests aren't yelling to be heard over the tv.

But, after 10 years I lost the no TV battle.

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