When it comes to vacation rentals, it’s the thoughtful personal touches that win guest’s hearts by creating meaningful memories. The guestbook is an iconic part of the vacation rental experience. While the old thick books of the past may still be a solid choice, guest book ideas of today are more inclusive and more interactive. 

What is the purpose of a guest book?

It is a record book that keeps track of the home’s visitors, adding personality and a bit of wholesome quirkiness to the guest experience. It’s a way to set your property and guest experience apart from the competition.

Guest books are a way for your guests to leave their mark, improving their experience and connecting them with past and future guests. This connection means guests are more likely to leave positive reviews and return.

1. On-theme Items

A vintage oar hangs on the wood wall of a lake cottage.

Your statement decor pieces can do double duty as a quirky and interactive guest book with a bit of planning. Imagine the delight of your guests when they realize the wall-mounted vintage surfboard at their beach house rental or pair of wooden oars at the lake house is actually a guest book. Here are some ideas to delight your guests:

Beach House Guest Book Ideas

  • Secure a vintage surfboard to the wall and encourage guests to sign directly on the surface.
  • Hang a Lifebuoy/ Life ring from the wall for guests to sign or leave personal messages.
  • Incorporate a map of the coastal area and let guests mark their favorite beach spots.
  • Arrange pieces of weathered driftwood as a backdrop for guest messages, providing a rustic and beach-inspired look.
  • Place a high-quality beach ball or volleyball in an obvious spot for guests to sign.
  • Arrange rustic lanterns as a table centerpiece, and use a glass marker for guests to sign the glass.

Lake House Guest Book Ideas

  • Wood Canoe Paddle or oars hung or leaned against the wall
  • Incorporate a nautical map of the lake
  • Use a decorative or vintage anchor as a statement piece and guest book
  • Arrange pieces of weathered driftwood as a unique canvas for guest messages
  • Have a quilt with blank squares for guests to sign or leave messages.
  • Signed fishing bobbers double as decorative elements when hung on a wall-mounted fishing net

Remember to make the placement and intention extra obvious when using an on-them item as a guest book. Most of these ideas are items that a guest would never write on unless clearly prompted. A sign nearby with instructions and a few example signatures (like your own) will guide your guests to confidently leave their mark.

If you have enough space, consider placing the guest book in the entryway or other eye-catching location so it doesn’t get lost in the mix. Some items can even be wall-mounted at eye level, allowing guests to sign it as soon as they enter.

2. Personalized Game Pieces

Board games are a nonnegotiable aspect of the vacation rental experience; and a go-to rainy day activity for guests to turn a blah day into a cherished memory. Ask your visitors to leave their mark by signing a game piece with their name and date of stay. This interactive guest book becomes not only a fun game but a sentimental part of the home.

Games that work well include:

  • Chess or Checkers Set: Guests can sign the bottom of a chess or checkers piece or the squares of the board.
  • Dominoes: Domino tiles can be signed or decorated by guests. 
  • Jenga blocks: Guests can sign and date blocks, including a fun memory or doodle too.
  • Playing Cards: Guests can personalize individual playing cards with their signatures, drawings, or messages. Over time, the deck becomes a collection of memories.
  • Uno Cards: Guests can sign or decorate Uno cards with personal messages or drawings. This adds a creative and personalized element to the game.
  • Guess Who Cards: Create a custom Guess Who game with blank character cards. Guests can draw themselves or personalize the characters with unique features.

3. Photo Puzzle

Use a nice photo of your property or a surrounding attraction and have it made into a puzzle at a reduced opacity. Guests can sign and date a loose puzzle piece and over time the puzzle will come together as a sentimental statement piece. 

Once the puzzle is complete, have it framed and hung on the wall as a statement piece of art that showcases the heart of your home.

4. Pin Map

Hang a large pinnable map of your country (or the world if you have global travelers) and encourage guests to pin their hometown with a push pin. 

Consider unique push pins in different colors or on theme shapes – or offer small tags for guests to sign and tie to their pin. This allows more information and personalization, equating to more connection with guests. 

Over time, the Pin Map becomes a multifaceted and engaging feature that not only visually represents your guests but also encourages interaction and storytelling within your space.

5. Pinnable Globe

If your vacation home attracts a global customer base, a globe is the perfect guest book. Find a larger globe and place it on a table with pins and instructions.

Similar to the push pin map, guests place a pin in their hometown, leaving their mark on the globe. If your globe won’t allow pins, consider a paint pen in a bold or metallic color.

This is a more refined option for an interactive guest book, especially for those short on-wall space.

6. Recipe Exchange

If your rental home lends itself to home cooking, a recipe guestbook is an innovative idea to thrill guests. Choose a themed recipe box or book that aligns with the décor or ambiance of your rental home. 

Display it prominently in the kitchen or dining area for easy access with a noticeable sign nearby, inviting guests to contribute their favorite recipes. Use engaging and friendly language to encourage participation.

Design recipe cards with spaces for the guest’s name, date of stay, and a brief note about why they love the recipe. This adds a personal touch to each contribution.

Consider providing guests with blank recipe cards for them to copy down a favorite option as a souvenir. These cards can have the logo or silhouette of your rental home, creating a lasting memory for guests.

A recipe exchange guest book elevates the culinary experience for guests and also creates a communal space where they can share their love for food and create lasting memories around the dining table of your rental home.

7. Fill-in-the-Blanks / Questionnaire Guest Book

Have personalized fill-in-the-blank style questions pre-printed either in a book or with the option to be put into a book later. Include places for guests’ names and the date of their stay. Then ask questions like: 

  • The most memorable part of our stay was [blank].
  • Our favorite meal was [blank] at [blank]
  • Our best tip for future guests is [blank]
  • We booked this trip to celebrate [blank]

Consider incorporating a mix of lighthearted and reflective questions in the guest book pages to capture a range of experiences. Encourage guests to share their stories, creating a narrative that adds a personal touch to the entries.

Additionally, tailor the questions to the specific features of your rental.

  • If your property has a stunning view, ask guests about their favorite spot to enjoy it. 
  • If there’s a unique room or amenity, inquire about their experience with it.
  • If your area has some hidden gems, ask guests to share their thoughts.

This not only provides valuable feedback but also highlights the distinctive aspects of your rental that guests appreciate. This not only enriches the guest book with useful information for future visitors but also fosters a sense of community among guests.

To enhance the interactive and fun aspect, incorporate elements of the Mad Libs style by leaving blanks for creative responses. This can lead to fun and unique entries, making the guest book a source of entertainment for both hosts and guests.

8. Travel Journal Pages

Purchase a large journal full of blank pages. Ask guests to leave their name and date they stayed, and to write about or sketch their stay. This is the closest option to a traditional guest book but the open-ended option to really share their memories is what makes it unique. 

Ask guests to share their favorite spots they visited, activities they did, and the moments that stand out from their trip. Over time the journal will become a living resource for future guests.

9. Photo Collage Wall

A selfie photo collage guest book in a lake house rental.

This is a wonderful way to capture and showcase the memories created by your guests. Choose a central location that is easily accessible and visible to all guests to display the collage.

Provide guests with an instant camera – and easy instructions on how to use it. Ask guests to take a selfie to add it to the display. Use clips, pins, or any other creative method to attach the photos. This allows guests to easily add their pictures and contributes to the evolving nature of the collage.

Encourage guests to label their photos with their names and the date to add a storytelling element to the collage and provide context for each picture. After all, a picture is worth a thousand words.

The photo collage serves as a visual testament to the community of guests who have enjoyed your lakehouse. It fosters a sense of connection among visitors, creating a shared space that reflects the joy and experiences shared by all.

10. Guest Art Wall

If your guests tend to be the creative type, consider a cumulative wall art guest book. Provide guests with a curated selection of art supplies to express their creativity. Clearly designate a wall or space as the canvas and give guest instructions to leave their mark.

The wall becomes an interactive and dynamic space that tells the tale of every guest’s creative exploration during their stay.

11. Scavenger Hunt

Design a scavenger hunt around the lakehouse area and provide guests with a checklist or map. Guests can mark off items or locations they discover during their stay. Make the most of the local draws of your space: a hidden stream or local art shop makes for great discoveries.

Offer a small prize for guests who complete the scavenger hunt like a codeword to get a free (paid by you) coffee at the local coffee shop or a hidden basket of local treats or souvenirs in the home (think chocolates from the local shop, or branded mugs with your home’s brand).

12. Guest Recommendations Board

Create a cozy corner with a corkboard where you and fellow guests can pin your absolute must-visit local spots – the best attractions, hidden gem restaurants, and those activities that made your stay at the lake house extra special. 

Offer blank note cards and pamphlets for local faves for guests to sign. It’s like creating a little treasure map for the next guests and building a community of friends who’ve all added their touch to the lakehouse experience.

13. Stones or Shells

Bringing nature into your guest book process connects your guests with the natural world they are looking to escape to. The guest book becomes a sentimental art piece in the home for guests to explore and connect with.

Lake houses can offer smooth stones as a canvas for guests to sign and gently add to a decorative bowl. While beach houses can string together seashells to create a garland where guests can sign a blank shell.

14. Local Wildlife Spotting Log

If your property lends itself to wildlife spotting opportunities, create a Wildlife Spotting Guestbook. Guests can leave not only their personal information but can share stories of the wildlife they encountered. This can encourage newcomers to more intentionally immerse themselves in nature as they read about past guests’ experiences.

15. Signing A Local Guidebook

Located in a touristy area? Pick up a local guidebook, an attractions guide, or a book on the history of your area. Place it in a predominant space with clear instructions asking guests to sign and date in the negative space of a page to document their stay. This guest book doubles as a source of interesting information – and connection. 

16. Favorite Quote Wall

Create a wall for guests to share their favorite inspiring quote. Consider a chalkboard wall or eleven a lightly painted wall with oil-based paints. 

For a less permanent option, have guests write on large ribbons to tie to a wall-mounted bar or tree to create a banner. Start the quote wall off with a personal favorite to encourage guests to get creative.

17. Words Of Wisdom

Set out a stack of notecards with pens and ask your guests to share the best advice they’ve ever been given – or just ‘solid life advice’ to keep it more light. Offer a place for guests to pin or clip cards, creating sentimental artwork. You’ll find the cards will be full of positive and heartwarming advice guests will love. 

18. Branded Plaque or Signage

Does your home have a unique name or vibe – like an A-frame home? If yes, double down on that character by having a custom plaque or sign made with the home’s name with plenty of negative space. 

Work with a skilled artisan to create a custom piece that reflects the unique character and vibe of your home. Be sure the style aligns with the overall aesthetic of the space, whether it’s rustic, modern, coastal, or eclectic

Incorporate negative space in the design to allow guests to add their own names or personalized messages. This not only encourages interaction but also makes each guest feel like they’re leaving a lasting mark on the space.

Display the custom plaque or signage prominently in the entrance area where guests enter the property. Make it an unmissable focal point that welcomes guests and sets the tone for their stay. Include a permanent marker or chalk nearby for guests to easily add their names or messages.

19. Guest Curated Library

Ask guests to bring a copy of their favorite book to add to the home’s library. Include an area of blank bookmarks with instructions for guests to sign their names, their stay date, and any other info (like a favorite quote from the book) either on the bookmark or inside the book cover. 

Over time your library will grow with favorite books for guests to browse during their stay, connecting them with past guests.

20. Wine Cork Collection

A glass vase full of wine corks makes for a great interactive guest book.

For homes in wine country or catering to adult crows, consider a wine cork collection as your guest book. Provide guests with a bottle of wine as a welcome gift (bonus points if you can support a local winery) and permanent markers to sign and date their corks. 

Offer a decorative bowl or glass vessel to display the growing collection of guests’ corks. Once the bowl is full you can create artwork with the corks – signed side facing out – to display above the next batch of cork. 

Over time, this unique display becomes a visual testament to the many celebratory moments shared at your vacation rental.

Invite Guests To Sign Your Guest Book

Finally, make sure to actively and obviously encourage guests to use the guest book. Because these guest book ideas are unique, guests may initially have hesitation about using them if not prompted. Consider using a small sign or framed print to present instructions. 

When setting up the guest book for the first time, provide a few examples for your inaugural guests, like placing a pin on the map, attaching a notecard to the string, or signing the surfboard yourself. 

As more guests interact with the guest book, the pattern will become self-explanatory, and your guest book will evolve into a heartwarming collection of the unique experiences and connections fostered through your hosting.

The personal touch of an interactive visitor book reinforces the idea that guests’ thoughts and experiences are valued, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for current and future guests.

Interactive Guest Books Do The Marketing For You

Designate the area around your interactive guest book as a selfie spot. Encourage guests to take pictures by their added names and share them on social media, creating a positive and shareable experience that doubles as organic marketing for your rental. 

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