Did you recently score a weekend out in the country, or at the beach, thanks to some generous vacation-home-owning friends of yours? Congratulations! Now it’s time to thank your hosts. Besides a (handwritten) note, flowers, wine, candles, and chocolates are and probably always will be standby tokens of appreciation. But we thought there are surely gifts that can eclipse those in thoughtfulness, so we asked some people who would know best: the hosts themselves.
Ahead, 14 people who own a vacation home or go in on long-term rentals told us about the most memorable, unusual, and surprisingly useful host gifts they’ve ever received from guests. We went out and found similar items and surrogates for each of those gifts, and feel confident that we’ve got you covered for every weekender situation — and that you’ll get invited back again.
Instead of — or in addition to — a bottle of wine, an attractive double-walled wine cooler makes for a great and lasting gift. “My wife and I received this Vinglacé wine-bottle chiller from a friend, and we love it because it’s hard to find really effective bottles for chilling rosé by the pool,” says Yann de Rochefort, founder of Boqueria restaurant, whose vacation house is in Elizaville, New York. “This holder is not only effective at keeping a bottle cool, but also protective of it, so it’s really portable and safe.”
Here’s a significantly cheaper but still attractive option.
Bigger and more versatile than a wine cooler, a beverage party tub is a good call for frequent entertainers. “A very useful gift for hosting, and wasn’t top on my list to buy myself,” says Michele M., who vacations in Water Mill, New York. And if you’re staying a long time: Go ahead and add some bottles. “It came filled with wine, which made it not only over the top, but that much more thoughtful.”
Or, for an indoor ice bucket, a curvaceous wood option for a warmer, richer feel.
Yet another approach: make sure your hosts always have frosty drinks on the go, with this IceMule cooler backpack. “It’s the best! Essentially, it’s a streamlined, cinched cooler sack that you can throw over your shoulder to keep everything nice and chilled — it makes it a breeze to tote our favorite bottles to the park or the beach for a boozy picnic,” says Annie Bystryn, founder of Cider in Love, who takes vacations in Darien, Connecticut. “Plus, it keeps the bottles hidden well, perfect for when you’re listening to the Philharmonic in the park.”
Or, for toting around cans of beer in style, there’s this boxier option, with a useful small zippered pocket in front.