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A breakfast of white toast, marmalade and black coffee with a boiled egg and orange juice on simple white crockery - Tips for a memorable breakfast service

Tips for a Memorable B&B Breakfast Service

breakfast running a bed and breakfast starting up a bed and breakfast Oct 19, 2023

For many guests, breakfast is the highlight of their bed and breakfast stay. A well prepared, delicious breakfast can set the tone for their whole visit.

It offers them a chance to try locally sourced food, engage in pleasant conversations with the B&B hosts and other guests, and plan the day ahead.

For B&B owners, it's an opportunity to add value, showcase their culinary skills, and enhance the overall customer service experience. A fantastic breakfast experience can even become a unique selling point, helping owners distinguish themselves from the competition.

In this blog post, I'll be walking through the important elements of the breakfast experience, from the setting of the table through to the serving of teas and coffees.

I’ll be recommending some products from the Cumbrian Hospitality Supplier Out of Eden in this blog post. For more about my collaboration with Out of Eden, read this post >> Where to shop for your hospitality supplies 

The legal bit - this is a paid sponsored post. This blog thrives on the support and trust of readers like you. Collaborating with companies like Out of Eden, and only recommending products I'd actually buy, or have been recommended to me by other hospitality providers who I trust, enables me to continue providing valuable content to you for free.

Creating a Welcoming Breakfast Table

The breakfast table sets the tone for guests' breakfast experience at a B&B. Since all bed and breakfast businesses are unique, there isn't a single way to set a B&B breakfast table. The way it's arranged, whether with tablecloths, flowers, or decor, reflects the owner's style and is tailored to the types of guests staying. It could be cosy, rustic, elegant, or modern.

Should you choose one large table or family-style?

One significant question that many course attendees often ask me - and it's a crucial one as it might influence whether a guest decides to stay or not - is whether they should choose a large, family-style dining table or individual tables.

Personally, I always leaned towards individual tables that could be pushed together when needed for larger groups. Over my 17 years of running a B&B, I encountered enough guests who hated the idea of sharing a breakfast table with strangers to back-up my decision ( and, yes I did start with one large table! ) 

Naturally, the decision might depend on the dimensions of your dining room. You'll also require individual tables that are spacious enough (a 3ft square for two people worked well for me). For recommendations on the minimum table sizes,  check out the website.

Choosing the right tablecloths and napkins

During my time running my own B&B, I experimented with various styles, from white tablecloths to no tablecloths, gingham napkins to paper napkins, and artificial to real flowers, until I settled on a setup that suited my wooden tables, using local pottery plates, quality paper napkins, and some felted flowers gifted by a guest.

Out of Eden offers a range of quality tablecloths and napkins, both paper and cloth including easy-care ones that are quick to wash and require minimal ironing >> Find tablecloths and napkins

They also provide an array of crockery and cutlery options >> Explore the range of crockery here and cutlery here

πŸ‘©‍πŸ’» Karen’s Tip

  • Tea or coffee stains on a white tablecloth are a real pain! Try soaking in a solution of Napisan ( 60g in a bowl of warm water overnight ) to remove stains. If the stain still isn't completely gone, then put 60g of Napisan in a dosing ball, along with your regular detergent, and put it into the washing machine.
  • Even if you choose cloth napkins, it's wise to keep some paper napkins handy for emergencies or for guests to take away leftovers.
  • Ensure you have enough crockery, cutlery, tablecloths, and napkins to handle busy periods or potential breakdowns of dishwashers, washing machines, or dryers.

The Bed and Breakfast Buffet

I was really quite sad when the buffet table disappeared from B&Bs and hotels due to COVID, but I am hopeful for its return!

During this time, members of the B&B Academy community shared ideas on creating individual buffets or ensuring COVID-safe buffets. I found these mini bottles particularly useful for hygienically storing individual portions of milk and juice.

Before COVID, my B&B buffet table featured cereals in Kilner jars, fresh orange juice in jugs, slices of homemade bread for toasting, and an assortment of homemade jams, marmalades, honey, and ketchup.

When we re-opened after Covid, I started using individual jams and marmalades, as well as pre-packed cereals. You can find a comprehensive range here >> Breakfast Cereal Variety Packs

πŸ‘©‍πŸ’»Karen’s Tip

  • Even if you have resumed normal service at your B&B and have reinstated the buffet table, having some individual pre-packed portions of cereal is helpful for guests with concerns about contamination, especially those with allergies. That knife that a guest puts into an opened jam jar may be contaminated with butter or toast crumbs- dangerous for people with dairy or wheat allergies.
  • If you ever find any cereals going out of date - though with my secret passion for coco pops, they never hang around for long - then consider making a few childhood classics such as chocolate cornflake or rice krispie cakes.

The Great Ketchup and Brown Sauce Debate

Just like the never-ending debate over baked beans, and whether they should be in a ramekin or not, the dispute over sauces can spark heated arguments among B&B owners.

Personally, I'm not a fan of eggs, so my breakfast sausages tend to be a bit dry without a dash of ketchup on the side. That's why I've always served Heinz ketchup at my B&B.

The next predicament is where to place the ketchup. Should it sit on the guest dining table, the buffet table, or in sealed individual sachets or tiny dishes? I've experimented with all these options, naturally.

Given my preference for a relaxed and informal atmosphere, I eventually settled on placing the ketchup bottles on the buffet table - and for those of you offended by my choice, the unsubscribe button is waiting at the bottom of the email. However, depending on my mood, I would occasionally switch back to using individual serving dishes.

πŸ‘©‍πŸ’» Karen's Tip

  • Always ensure sauce bottles for the buffet table stored in the fridge and are properly cleaned, including the nozzle.
  • You can never have too many mini serving dishes in my opinion. How cute are these ones? >> Individual serving dish

Serving Tea and Coffee at a B&B

At my B&B, I served local loose-leaf tea, using the stubby teapots that were perfect for providing guests with an individual pot of tea. They're generous enough for guests to get a couple of mugs out of them, and come with a removable filter/infuser

I also served cafetiere coffee and found it useful to have a range of different sizes, catering to different group sizes. You can find various sizes of cafetieres at Out of Eden.

Karen’s Tip

  • I learned from a hotel inspector that serving a jug of hot water with a pot of tea is a thoughtful gesture. It turned out many guests appreciated it, so I recommend adopting this practice when serving tea.
  • For the best cafetiere coffee, pour near-boiling water onto the coffee, wait 2 minutes, stir, wait another 2 minutes, stir again, and then push the plunger down.
  • Even if not used regularly, having a Nespresso pod machine and milk frother in the kitchen ( or even the dining room for self service ) is worthwhile for an increasing number of guests craving an espresso or cappuccino.

What Sort of Breakfast should you Serve at your Bed and Breakfast?

Of course, not all bed and breakfasts provide a full breakfast service in today's world.

Some B&B owners in the Bed and Breakfast Academy community have found great success by offering various breakfast options beyond the traditional sit-down meal. These alternatives include room-only service, in-room continental breakfasts, or buffet-style offerings.

There is no definitive right or wrong when it comes to the type of breakfast a B&B should offer. What truly matters, especially if you're in the early stages of running your own bed and breakfast, is taking the time to understand the kind of B&B host you aspire to be and identifying the breakfast experience your guests desire and need.

This decision depends on several factors, such as your B&B's location, the demographics and preferences of your guests, and the reasons they have for choosing your establishment.

The first module of my online B&B course is dedicated to helping you gain clarity on these aspects. You can learn more about this course here.

For additional insights into the variety of breakfast options, you can also explore my blog post  'Do You Have to Serve a Cooked Breakfast at a B&B?' 


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