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It’s great when a friend asks you to sleep over. Especially if they have a nicer house | Hannah Jane Parkinson


I can’t remember how much I enjoyed – or didn’t like – sleepovers as a child. I suppose it depended on the other guests. They are not something I recall having a strong opinion on. Yet I find staying at friends’ houses as an adult immensely pleasurable. In truth, I find staying anywhere rather exciting, and hospitality in general a lovely thing. I occasionally stay in fancy hotels in the city where I live, just for a night, to break up the monotony (and for the swimming pools).

On trips abroad, I enjoy staying with locals. But there is something specifically satisfying and, more than that, comforting about staying with pals. I’m sure a large part of this is that I have friends with fancy houses in beautiful locations. I have friends with a stunning house in Oxford, and mates with quaint cottages by the seaside.

A second factor is that my friends, in general, have their shit together more than I do: a domestic goddess I am not (despite a love of homeware and design). But it is the feeling of being invited into someone else’s nest that is a privileged kind of contentment. Friends are the family we choose.

Late-night chatting by the fire and catching up over shared washing-up. Making time for breakfast with fresh orange juice, if the visit is on a weekend. Or mutually pulling on coats and picking up coffee en route to the train if I have crashed on a weeknight.

But what I love best is the juxtaposition between the warm familiarity of a friend you know and love, and the subtle high of a twist on the quotidian. A different type of toothpaste. (Is it nicer than yours – fresher?) A shower that does its work an alternative way. Kitchen utensils you don’t own and can’t name. It is like snooping in a National Trust house, but one that is lived in by occupants you care about, and who aren’t racist.

Perhaps the crux of it is: I feel safe. I feel wanted. If someone is willing to make up the spare bed for you, they must hold you in some regard. If someone pops their head round the door to offer you a cuppa in the morning, they can’t secretly despise you, right?

Maybe people who come from picture-perfect homes and archetypal nuclear families don’t have this joy. Maybe they are spoiled. But for me, there is a special type of bonding in someone saying, “Of course there is room at the inn.” Of course, I return the favour – but not before pointing out the radiator that makes a super-weird noise in the night.

Source: TheGuardian