Thank Goodness We Don’t Have to Do That Anymore: The Guest Card

Things that are only possible with this many servants.

Back in the day, for a certain level of hostess (ie with a huge house and a lot of servants), guests would have quite a lot of options during their stay- whether they would have breakfast in their rooms (if you haven’t noticed, on Downtown Abbey, it is only married women who are allowed to have breakfast in bed), what they would like for breakfast, etc. Usually the hostess would ask these questions naturally during the first day of the stay. But the truly chic hostess would leave a little card in the guest’s room for them to fill out before dinner:

What time do you want to be awakened? …………………..
Or, will you ring? ……………………………………
Will you breakfast up-stairs? …………………………..
Or down? …………………………………………….

Underscore Your Order:

Coffee, tea, chocolate, milk,
Oatmeal, hominy, shredded wheat,
Eggs, how cooked?
Rolls, muffins, toast,
Orange, pear, grapes, melon.

At Bedtime Will You Take

Hot or cold milk, cocoa, orangeade,
Sandwiches, meat, lettuce, jam,
Cake, crackers,
Oranges, apples, pears, grapes.

That’s even nicer service than any hotel I’ve ever been to! Of course, this sort of thing was super rare and in no way would be expected today.

In a related note, grand houses also used to have “guest books” just like you would see in a fancy B&B or a historical site, in which all the guests would write their names, the date of their visit, and some comments. This was a way for the family to look back on who had visited them and when (a must for frequent hosts!) and a nice momento. These are great resources for historians today, as well.

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