How to Start a Bed and Breakfast Business

By Eric Hammer

So you want to start a bed and breakfast? Good for you. Creating a bed and breakfast is a dream for many Americans, especially those with particularly large homes which would make for an ideal bed and breakfast arrangement.

Keep in mind however that the whole concept of a bed and breakfast has changed over the years. These days, guests coming to a bed and breakfast expect to be pampered and actually pay more for the experience of staying in a comfortable home rather than in an impersonal hotel room. They expect each room to be somewhat unique and that the character of the B&B owners will be reflected in the place.

At the same time however, most people who come to a bed and breakfast still expect many of the amenities found in formal hotel rooms, including televisions in their rooms, a separate phone line on which they can make outgoing calls and private bathrooms and showers. That last item is probably the most requested item but also the most difficult one for people who want to start their own bed and breakfast. Few homes offer such amenities from the start and as such your home will need to be retrofitted to provide such amenities.

It goes without saying that if your home is simply not suited to retrofitting each room with a private shower and toilet and you must instead offer your guests a shared bathroom that locks on the door and some kind of system for making use of it are a must. You’ll also need to make sure to keep the place spotless by cleaning it constantly. A gentle reminder note hung on the inside of the door is also a good idea to make sure they realize others may need the bathroom as well.

How Much Can You Make?

Room rates for bed and breakfasts run the gamut across the country. The cheapest prices we saw were in the $80 per night range with the most expensive prices being close to $300 per night, based on double occupancy. Keep in mind however that your price per room will not be pure profit. You’ll be paying for raw materials for providing breakfast to your guests, costs of consumables in the bathrooms and rooms and you will naturally have to spend money to replace worn out sheets, pillow cases and furniture as time goes on. Not to mention the staff required to help you run your bed and breakfast.

Ways to Make More | Related Opportunities | Tips

Some bed and breakfasts also offer themes to their guests. One place we looked at for our survey for example offered "ghost tours and stories" along with some other spooky entertainment for an extra $30 per person. You can also help guests to arrange for shows and dinners in the area and of course, your kitchen can be opened for meals in the afternoon and evening as well for an additional fee.

Keep in mind when running your bed and breakfast that your guests are there for the experience as much as for a practical consideration of a place to stay. They want your B&B to be unique and to offer them an unusual experience so try not to make it feel too impersonal like a hotel. Making each room distinct, with different themes and naming each room rather than simply giving them numbers is generally a good idea.

Many guests develop relationships with B&B owners and become lifelong friends. You’ll need to be the sort of person who enjoys having new people around all the time in order to be successful in this business and you’ll also need to be able to quickly handle complaints from guests if there is a problem.

Qualifications / Requirements

You need to check with your city zoning commission to find out if there are any issues of zoning permits regarding turning your home into a bed and breakfast. You’ll also need to obtain a food handler’s license for preparing meals in your kitchen and you’ll probably want to take some courses in hospitality management if not getting an actual degree in the subject to make sure that you know the ins and outs of running a B&B.

First Steps

Start by taking an honest assessment of your home. Is it big enough to create a bed and breakfast? Remember that a spare room or two are good for long term borders but not for a bed and breakfast. You’ll need at least five or six comfortable rooms available in order to run a successful bed and breakfast. Spend some time sleeping in each room as well. Consider whether there are noises in the area that may prove distracting to your guests. Finally, as previously noted, check with your city zoning board to make sure that you can legally operate a bed and breakfast in your home.


About.Com: Decisions to Make Before Starting a Bed and Breakfast – This is an excellent checklist of things you’ll need to consider when you start looking into turning your home into a B&B.

The B&B Marketplace: Seminars on How to Start a Bed and Breakfast – Sometimes, it’s best to hear about things in person rather than to try and read about them. These seminars should give you a solid grounding in the facts of running a B&B.

Running a Bed and Breakfast for Dummies by Mary White (For Dummies, 2009) – Yeah, the titles of these books put some people off, but let’s face it, they get the job done. Here is everything you need to know in order to start your own bed and breakfast.

If you liked this page please let others know with one of these...

Other Relevant Pages

Still More Good Businesses

Work From Your Home

Every Way to Make Money | How to Start a Bed and Breakfast Business