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Cottages, Hotels and B&Bs in the Lake District

So you want to run a B&B?

A light hearted look at setting up and running a B&B or guest house

Setting up and Running a Bed and Breakfast or Guest House

Please note the views expressed in this article represent the views of the author and in no way reflect the official view of or Helvellyn Consulting. If you are looking to set up a holiday accommodation business and are in need of guidance, please seek professional assistance.

Why do you want to run a B&B? -  Size IS Important - Location - My House! - Pricing - Breakfasts - Extras - Decor - 2 night stays - Evening meals - Marigolds - Arrivals - Dogs - Plumber/electrician - Advertising - Inspections and Grading - Financials - Health & Safety - Do you still want to run a B&B - A day in the life

The objective of this article is to provide a light hearted but hopefully informative set of top tips if you’re thinking about opening a B&B. None of it should be taken as gospel and ultimately it is down to what you want and what feels right for you. Anyway we hope it is of some use and interest!

Why do you want to run a B&B?

“I want the freedom – to work from home and have the lifestyle I’ve always dreamt of”. OK so it’s a nice idea, but the reality rarely matches the expectation. When you’ve changed umpteen beds, cleaned countless toilets and fried enough bacon to give a caveman a coronary and are then waiting in for your last guests to arrive, you may feel somewhat differently! Whatever your reasons, unless you have a B&B big enough to afford you the luxury of paying for staff and guarantees of being full most of the year, then don’t think you’re in it for the lifestyle or the money!

Size IS important

Unless you are purely looking for some extra cash and don’t mind sharing your spare room with strangers every day, then you are probably looking to let out at least 3 rooms. All I would say is the more the merrier. Ignoring the boring but important element of business rates, the ideal scenario is to have lots of rooms which you can fill for 2-3 night stays at the weekend. Maximise the income for minimal effort. And if you can afford to pay someone to help cook, serve and clean then all the better. The bottom line is typically you will be busiest on a Friday and Saturday night (unless you’re in a town or city catering for the business market), and the more you can cram in then the better. An ideal size for 2 people to cope with by themselves is probably about 7-8 rooms. Many more than that and a) you will struggle to physically cope b) you might as well start calling yourself a hotel.

Location, Location, Location

To paraphrase someone at some point “you can’t live on views alone”. Well from the B&B point of view this is also very true. You need to make sure you’re in the right place to maximise your visitor numbers, whilst still making sure you give them what they want in terms of peace, tranquillity and views. It’s also important that you make sure the location you choose if popular mid week if you are relying on that to make up the numbers, and people visit “out of season”. A great source of mid week trade can come from being on a popular walking route, such as the Coast 2 Coast. Proximity to a good pub (walking distance ideally) is also a must unless you’re going to add to the agony by offering evening meals!

But this is my house!

Unless you have the luxury of separate  accommodation for you and your guests you need to remember that you’ll be sharing your house with strangers, and unless you lock all the doors and cupboards then expect to find people putting things in your fridge and making themselves at home where they see fit, rather than where you would choose! This can be a bit unnerving at first but you get used to it and as always 99% of guests are great – just be ready for that 1%

Prices to suit

Again your pricing policy will be dependent on a number of factors, primarily what people are prepared to pay in the area you are for the service you offer. Don’t forget to charge close to the full room rate for single occupancy, and offer discounts for more than 2 night stays (believe me it’s worth it!). Also don’t be afraid to aim high – you will always get people asking for discounts and special deals so better to start off with some negotiating room.

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Why do you want to run a B&B? -  Size IS Important - Location - My House! - Pricing - Breakfasts - Extras - Decor - 2 night stays - Evening meals - Marigolds - Arrivals - Dogs - Plumber/electrician - Advertising - Inspections and Grading - Financials - Health & Safety - Do you still want to run a B&B - A day in the life

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Self Catering in Cumbria Love Walking in the Lake District and fancy a challenge?  Why not take part in the annual Patterdale Parish Boundary Walk.  All for charity and a great day!