Since I am using both sides of THS, I feel I can speak a bit to this issue. Of course, the size of your home and quality of guest accommodations greatly impacts how a sitter may feel with locked doors/floors/wings. I love that you are thinking how to make your sitters comfortable.
Since I love touring homes and seeing old character, remodels, decorating etc… I always enjoy getting a tour of an entire house even if parts will be locked off during my stay. I understand why people want to lock off personal spaces but I will admit, it does makes me feel a bit like a servant instead of a guest. I feel a good question to ask yourself is If family was staying at your home while you were away, would you lock spaces?
As a home owner, I feel so comfortable with who I have selected, I do not feel a need to lock off any spaces. I want my sitters to feel completely at home since they are doing a huge service for me and my pets. I keep a very clean house but I do have some spaces that are a cluttered mess. I tour and let them see what is behind closed doors. I cannot imagine why anyone would want to enter these spaces after we depart. With background checks, reviews and a virtual interview, I cannot imagine someone coming into my home and stealing something. Why do I need to lock doors? I have a locked fire box in my home and a safety deposit box because I am more worried about natural disasters and burglaries.
I want my sitters to have the most comfortable bed and an ensuite. I also want my animals to be able to sleep where they are accustomed to sleeping. However, I know some people are more comfortable staying in a guest space instead of someone else’s personal bedroom.
If I need my sitters to arrive into town the day before we depart and stay until the day after we return home, I offer to pay for their accommodations. I feel it is the least we can do if they have travel expenses. I have stayed in people’s homes where the guest accommodations are completely separate and it was really nice to not have to pay for a hotel. Our guest room is right next door to the master so would not be comfortable for us or sitters.
I have had sits where I was offered master/guest or guest/main house. I have always opted for the guest space because it was great and comfortable. However, if the pets were not happy in the guest space, I would have chosen differently.
I also do Home Exchange with my secondary home. I have stayed in peoples primary homes and they make their master feel very comfortable with leaving plenty of drawers/closet space and not having too much clutter. It would be nice if all THS home owners took this approach when subscribing to the program. They should be looking at this as an even exchange that is a win/win for both parties. Not a cheap way to get people to care for their home and pets and then treat them like paid help. I find this highly offensive in the posts where this is clearly the attitude of the home owner. If you can afford to travel then you should be able to pay for your animals to be safe and loved. I have found home owners choose to utilize THS because they have struggled to find good pet sitters. THS has a reputation of people who truly love animals, are trustworthy and enjoy the experience of living like a local as they travel. I absolutely love the connections I have made with like minded people as both a sitter and home owner.
If you do lock spaces, make sure that nothing is locked off that your sitter may need. I just did a sit where I could not find several items and assumed they were in their living sections i.e. fans, wash cloths etc…I had to stand outside the locked door to get close enough to the router to log into wifi. I could see the only access to a lovely covered porch. I would have loved to be able to enjoy this space and take in the gorgeous view in the evenings.
Fortunately, it was a local sit so I got things from my own home. If I had traveled, I would have been quite annoyed there were no fans in a house that did not have a.c. So make sure your sitters have access to anything they may need to make their stay comfortable.
Some homeowners should hire professional cleaners prior to a sitter staying in the home. It is not ok to walk into a bathroom that has clearly not been sanitized. I feel THS should have a way for sitters to privately express concerns to management so they can follow up with home owners. All of the positives to my sits have far outweighed a few issues I have encountered. I would never want the homeowners to feel publicly humiliated if they are new to THS and a little naive, but I also do not want to mislead a future sitter.