B&B, Guest House or Boutique Hotel?

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Your First Decision

Hopefully you have followed the advice in the first post and have either gained some knowledge in the industry or are aiming to do so before going any further. If so, then you are aware of the hard work, time and effort that will be involved in building a business in this industry. Not to mention the financial pressures that they may also be.

This blog primarily focuses on the lower end of the hospitality market. At this point there are a number of options available to you. If we rule out large hotels that would require an excessive starting budget then we are left with B&Bs, Guest Houses or Boutique Hotels as options. It is useful at the stage to identify the differences between each of these options.


A bed and breakfast is fairly simple and self-explanatory. It offers guests somewhere to sleep at night and food for breakfast in the morning. Often, though not always, b&bs are private homes with the owner living on site. Many b&bs only have in the region of 3 to 5 rooms and are generally a smaller scale establishment, often managed, operated and run by the owners, perhaps with a few paid staff to help.

Guest Houses

Guest houses tend to be larger in size, with more rooms for rent. They also generally have more space for guests, sometimes offering larger lounge areas or bars for guests to relax. Many guest houses are still managed and run by the owners with some accompanying staff to help. However, in the case of guest houses, the owners may not reside on site and, as a result, check in times may be by appointment.

Boutique Hotels

A boutique hotel tends to operate in the area between a large guest house and a small hotel. They tend to be independent run rather than chain hotels, with a focus on a high level of customer service and personalisation. Boutique hotels are primarily considered quite upmarket accommodation. Whilst larger in size than b&bs and guest houses, they also tend to offer a greater range of services – from in room extras, to bar snacks or evening meals.

The information above is intended as a general and basic overview of each of the popular small guest accommodation types. There is a large degree of fluidity within these individual categorisations and a similarly large degree of fluctuation in price.

When starting out, the thing to do is consider how many rooms you believe you could manage – and how big a place you can afford. If unsure, the most sensible advice would be to not take on anything too large until you have proved that you can make it in this industry. Try to carve out a niche for yourself and really define the character and personality of your accommodation and your brand.  Above all, be clear about what it is that you are offering you guests. This side of things will be the topic of a later blog post.

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