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Do you need a licence to sell alcohol at your B&B

running your b&b Nov 30, 2020

Whether you need a licence to serve  alcohol at a B&B ( in the UK ) is one of the questions I’m asked most frequently. This blog post covers all you need to know, including whether you need a licence if you’re providing “free” alcohol to guests or running an honesty bar.

My friend, Rachel Jones and her husband, Richard, run A470 Training, specialising in hospitality and licensing qualifications. So I asked Rachel to write a guest blog post explaining the licensing process along with the approximate costs. Note that the costs will vary from council to council.

Whilst Rachel covers the legal and practical side of things, I also went out to the amazing facebook group for past course attendees to ask if they thought being licensed was worth the cost and effort. In next weeks blog I’ll be covering what they had to say.

“Karen asked  if I could pass on a few tips to B&B owners thinking about selling alcohol.

Over the years I’ve...

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Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread

breakfast recipe Nov 27, 2020

Cinnamon Swirl Banana Bread Recipe

We’re a bit of a fan of cinnamon here at Hopton House. My husband is particularly keen. Normally I can’t tempt Jess & Rob with a fresh baked sweet bread in the morning, but they both make an exception for this banana bread.

OK there’s a lot of sugar in this recipe but I’m a firm believer in everything in moderation. If you’re trying to cut down on refined sugar,  then it still tastes very nice without the cinnamon swirl sugar, and try making it with honey.

It’s a great way for using up those over ripe bananas. the riper the better.

It also tastes very good made with gluten free self raising flour. I just add an extra tablespoon of buttermilk as gluten free flour tends to absorb more liquid.

It’s incredibly easy to do easy to do as it’s one of those banana bread recipes where you just bung everything into the mixer. It  also lasts quite well so can be cooked the day...

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5 Kitchen Essentials B&B for owners

running your b&b Nov 23, 2020

The blog post I wrote about my  5 favourite B&B gadgets several  weeks ago was very popular, so I thought I'd follow up with my next 5 as promised.

Whilst they're my favourites and make running a B&B a little easier, they're very unpopular with one member of our household. Our dog, Saffy, absolutely hates me using the grater, the pasta machine, the salad spinner and the rolling pin! I've been known to take the salad spinner upstairs so as not to set her off

Just a reminder, as part of the online course I include a 27 page room design checklist you can download, which covers all of the items you'll need in your B&B bedrooms and bathrooms 


Click on the picture to link through to find out more about each item on Amazon.

 1. Microplane Grater

I seem to spend a lot of my time zesting lemons. It's what gives my lemon drizzle cake that lovely flavour. 

I'm a huge fan of Microplane graters. I use the...

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Is it better to buy a B&B or set one up from scratch?

setting up your b&b Nov 16, 2020

Buying an established B&B versus setting one up from scratch

A question I am often asked by people who come on my courses is; “What are the pros and cons of buying an established B&B versus setting one up from scratch?”

In this post I'll be covering the pros and cons from both, with contributions from other B&B owners who have taken both routes.

The option that’s right for you will depend on your personal circumstances:

  • Will one option be more expensive that the other?
  • Do you want to be up and running quickly?
  • Can you afford to take time to set up from scratch and not be earning?
  • Do you want to create something brand new?
  • Are you happy to take some risk? 

When we bought Hopton House, we bought it as our family home. We then converted a couple of rooms to run them as a B&B. We added an extra couple of rooms a few years later. For us, it was about buying a house that we wanted to live in and making it work for us

Knowing what I do now, if I...

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4 places your B&B guests are checking your rooms for cleanliness

running your b&b Nov 10, 2020

I have to admit that one of my secret vices is watching too much daytime tv. 

As a child, I always preferred to watch TV rather than listen to the radio. And even when I was doing homework and exam revision, I’d always have the TV on.

Fast forward to running a B&B, the TV was always on as I prepared breakfast and went about the cleaning. Just for background noise in an empty house really.

However everything has changed in the last 8 months. Lockdown has had the very welcome side effect that my husband is working at home, rather than spending the week working and staying down near Heathrow. And one thing he’s never liked is the TV being on during the day!

So the TV has remained off and I’ve not really missed Phil and Holly at all.

But the other morning I did turn BBC Breakfast on, as I wanted to catch something important on the news. It didn’t get turned off and I ended up half listening to the consumer programme that followed. 

My ears perked up...

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Preparing your B&B for lockdown

covid-19 Nov 02, 2020

Preparing your B&B for lockdown

Unfortunately we’ll be starting another month-long  lockdown in England from 01.00 on 5th November.

This means that most B&Bs and hotels will have to close. The current ( 2nd November 2020 ) wording on the GOV.UK website is as follows:

“Hotels, hostels and other accommodation should only open for those who have to travel for work purposes and for a limited number of other exemptions which will be set out in law.”

Please refer to the website for the most up to date information

Many of us who already run B&Bs have already been through one lockdown this year, and have a good idea of the steps to take to prepare our B&Bs. 

But just in case you need a reminder, here’s a list of things to consider. Some actions may not be appropriate to your circumstances, so please adapt as necessary.

I’ve asked our Facebook group for their suggestions. So thank you to everyone that responded.

Taking prompt action...

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Tomato and Pumpkin Soup

glutenfree recipe vegan Oct 31, 2020

When I first opened my B&B I used to offer 3 course evening meals. 

They were surprisingly popular with my guests, but took up a huge amount of my time and didn't really make me any money. I was spending 5 hours in the kitchen, serving and clearing up most evenings.

I refocussed back on my WHY for running for B&B. For me, it was all about having more time with my family and living in a beautiful part of the world. And decided to stop the evening meals.

Since then I've offered in room platters, which means guests can relax and not have to go out to eat, and I get to enjoy time with my family in the evening.

A B&B friend of mine has another solution, providing an electric soup tureen for guests. They can come and help themselves to soup, cheese scones and homemade bread.

This recipe would be perfect if you decided to offer something similar to your guests. It has the advantage of being vegan and gluten free ( check your stock is gluten free ).


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Beautiful B&B for sale Pembrokeshire

for sale Oct 26, 2020

I was recently contacted by Gill and Steve who attended my B&B training course back in 2014.

Not long after the course Gill and Steve made the move to Wales and set up the very beautiful Stoney Bridge B&B near Saundersfoot and Tenby in Pembrokeshire.

They are now looking for a slightly quieter pace of life and are looking to see if there's anyone who would like to buy their luxury bed and breakfast.

I'll let Gill and Steve tell you their story. Please use the contact details provided if you are interested! 

"Anyone looking to take on an established and successful B&B in a coastal location? …….   Then you may just be interested in Stoney Bridge Luxury B&B on the beautiful South Pembrokeshire Coast.

Stoney Bridge is a large detached property which we, Steve & Gill, run as a Luxury B&B with three spacious ensuite guest rooms.  Our accommodation is an integrated two bedroom bungalow with separate access.

You’ll find...

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Running a B&B – 4 Tips for an Easier Breakfast Service

breakfast recipe Oct 19, 2020

Unless you offer guests an evening meal, breakfast is probably the only meal that guests will experience at your B&B and the promise of a well cooked Full English is one of the reasons people choose a B&B over a hotel.

Whilst business guests may well be happy with the buffet or a bowl of porridge, my experience is that the majority of my guests, here for a relaxing few days away, want a big cooked breakfast.

I love to cook and I like to offer a bit more than just  the normal full English breakfast. And I find that over 50% of my guests will choose one of the breakfast specials I offer.

Guests staying here at Hopton House and can choose from any variation of the full English, with homemade cheese and herb sausages or halloumi for the non meat eaters, blueberry or cinnamon apple buttermilk pancakes, herby mushrooms with poached eggs, eggs benedict or eggs royale or omelette with a choice of fillings.

If my guests are vegetarian, vegan or have special...

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10 Ways to Get More Repeats Guests at your B&B

I wrote a post a few weeks ago about how important repeat guests were to many B&Bs. This week I wanted to go into a bit more detail on how to turn first time guests into loyal repeat fans!

I welcome many repeat guests to my own B&B, so I have a good idea of what it takes to get guests to come back. But I decided to go out to the Facebook Group of Past Course Attendees and asked them what THEY do to persuade guests to return.

I think this post, and all of the ideas generated by an amazing bunch of B&B owners, shows the power of community and shared ideas. Community is at the heart of my new B&B Marketing Club membership. Check out my 5 steps to marketing  a B&B webinar to find out more.

1. Be clear on the type of guests you want to attract

I do rather go on about this at length in my courses. But the most important thing you need to do, when you’re setting up, or buying, a B&B, is to be very clear on who your customers are and what it is...

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