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PPlease tody my room sign hanging on round door knob

Should you do a room refresh at your bed and breakfast when guests are staying?

running a bed and breakfast starting up a bed and breakfast Mar 16, 2022

When bed and breakfasts opened following the first Covid lockdown, many B&B owners, myself included, stopped offering the room tidy. 

Now Covid rules are being relaxed and life is starting to feel a bit more normal - in the UK at least. There have been a few discussions in my Facebook Group for Course Attendees about what happens to room tidies going forward.

So I thought I'd use this blog post to discuss:

  • What is a room tidy and how long does it take?
  • What does a room tidy involve?
  • When should you change the bed linen if guests are staying more than one night?
  • What if guests leave the room in a mess?
  • What happens if the guests don’t go out?
  • What happened to room tidies during Covid?
  • What’s the future of the bed and breakfast room tidy?
  • Quick tips for managing your room tidies

If you find this blog post useful, you’ll discover everything that’s involved in running a successful B&B in my online course >> Click here to find out more

A few years ago, pre Covid, a lovely elderly couple stayed at my B&B. They were the type of guests we all wish for. They told me they’d loved every minute of their stay and heaped me with praise.

But one of their comments really surprised me:
“We’ve been staying at bed and breakfasts for over 40 years, and this is the first time we’ve ever had our room refreshed during a stay. We loved that touch!”

I was really taken aback by this comment. Nearly every B&B I know used to offer a room refresh or tidy, and it’s also part of the quality inspection requirements, for those B&Bs that choose to opt for a star rating.

As usual with guests, everyone has their own preferences about whether they want their room tidied or not. Some people expect it as part of the whole B&B service, but not everyone likes the B&B owner or cleaner to go into their room whilst their staying.

What is a room tidy or refresh?

Obviously, all B&B owners give their rooms a good clean between guests; changing the bedding, giving the rooms a clean from top to bottom and refilling all of the room goodies.
But what happens when guests are staying for more than one night.

At my bed and breakfast, prior to 2020, once guests went out for the day, I’d pop into the room and give it a quick tidy and clean. This would typically take me about 30 minutes, compared to the 1 hour and 20 minutes that a full changeover would take.

What’s involved in a room tidy?

This will vary from B&B to B&B. But at my own, I’d do the following:

  • Make the bed
  • Empty the bins
  • Clean the bathroom
  • Vacuum the room
  • Replace towels that have been put in the bath to be changed ( or those that were very wet in the summer, without the central heating on to dry them )
  • Replace all the dirty cups etc and top up tea, coffee and biscuit supplies.

On more than one occasion my 2 landlady selves - let me introduce you to Ms. Charming and Ms. Grumpy - would get into a row with each other when the whole lemon drizzle cake had been eaten in one night.

Ms. Charming would want to go and bake another cake so the guests would be delighted when they to their room. Whilst Ms. Grumpy would be incredulous that anyone could eat a WHOLE lemon drizzle cake in one night when it was CLEARLY meant to last for their stay.
Luckily for my reviews, Ms. Charming invariably won…

Get tips for cleaning a bed and breakfast here >> Top 10 tips for cleaning your bed and breakfast

Do you need to change bed linen if guests are staying more than one night?

In the Visit England ( and equivalent Visit Wales, Scotland and NI ) and AA Quality standards, the requirement was to change the bed linen every 2 days if you were 5 star, and every 4 days otherwise. Though in both cases this could be stretched out to 7 days if you had an environmental policy in place.

I did have an environmental policy and I would change the bedlinen every 4 days, or less if I felt it needed changing. The guest information folder would also offer the guests the opportunity to ask for a bed linen change sooner if they wanted one.

At my dog friendly B&B, with a no dogs on the bed policy, I always had a bit of a dilemma when I spotted a lovely white duvet cover covered in muddy pawprints.

Again Ms. Charming - "I want the guests to return to a lovely clean, welcoming room", would often be in conflict with Ms. Grumpy “but the dogs shouldn’t have been on the bed” 

Again, Ms Charming usually won the argument.

What if guests leave the room in a mess?

Another dilemma I was often faced with was walking into a room to find I couldn’t see the floor or the bed because both were covered in guests’ belongings.

Now I am the untidiest person I know, but even I ( much to my husband’s amusement ) will give a B&B or hotel room a quick tidy before we go out for the day if I know someone is coming in to give it a refresh.

I’d usually take the clothes off the bed, make it, and then put the clothes back on in exactly the same spot they'd been left in. Then vacuum around whatever was left on the floor.

Staying in a B&B in Oregon once, I spotted a sign that said they would only make the bed if there were no personal belongings left on it.

That might be a good option for you if you’re uncomfortable about moving guests’ belongs.

What if guests don’t go out?

For me, room tidies could really eat into my day and Ms. Grumpy was in full control.

The advantage of a day filled with changeovers was that I had a good idea of what my schedule would look like - assuming guests check out and checked in at the advertised times!

But when guests weren't checking out that day, they’d often hang around in their room all morning and then come back early in the afternoon. I’d be waiting for them to leave, so I could go in and clean their rooms, before I could get on with anything else.

This was particularly difficult if I had an appointment to get out to. And I'd be particularly grumpy if I'd paid my cleaner to come in for the day and the "Please Clean the Room" sign went up 5 minutes after my cleaner had left!

I got round this by stating that the rooms would be cleaned between 11:00 and 13:00 and if the guests chose not to vacate their room during that time there’d be no room tidy!

Read more about setting boundaries at your B&B here >> Setting boundaries when you run a bed and breakfast

What happened to B&B room tidies during Covid?

When bed and breakfasts opened following the first Covid lockdown, many B&B owners, myself included, stopped offering the room tidy.

The reasoning behind was that we wanted to minimise contact with guests’ belongings and reassure them that the space was theirs and theirs alone during their stay. As well as minimising the risk to B&B owners themselves from breathing in air in rooms where guests had been for a prolonged period of time.

One of the cleaning guidelines that came out at the time was that B&B rooms were left empty and airing with all the windows open once guests had checked out. With this requirement, it was logistically difficult to fit the room tidy in.

I must admit I really enjoyed not doing room tidies. It meant less cleaning - yeah - and also gave me a big part of my day back! Once breakfast was over and provided I had no changeovers, I could finally go out without having to wait for guests to leave.

Though it did mean that the rooms took a bit more time to clean during a changeover - especially for those of us who live in a hard water area and have bad limescale build up without daily cleaning.

What is the future of room tidies?

Now Covid rules are being relaxed in the UK and life feels like it’s getting back to normal, what happens to room tidies going forward?

We’ve been and stayed at one of our favourite small hotels a few times over the last couple of years and it's been interesting - with my industry expert head on - to see how they’ve adapted their procedures round Covid, and what it felt like for a customer.

To start with, like most accommodation, they dropped the room tidy completely, offering replacement towels etc on request.

Supplies of fresh milk, teas, coffees etc were left at a refreshment station on the way up to the rooms.

The last time we went they’d changed this to room tidy on request only. They’d supplied a little wooden sign to hang on the door by 11am if you wanted your room cleaned.

I must admit as a customer I really like this option. We only ever go and stay there for 2 or 3 days and we don’t need the rooms cleaned. It’s nice knowing it’s our space for the whole time we’re there.

At my B&B, pre Covid, I had signs for guests to put on the door if they didn’t want the room cleaned, but if I were still running the B&B I would be opting for the room tidy on request.

The tiny detail here is that they ask for the sign to be hung on the door by a certain time.

This was my mistake, guests wouldn’t hang their sign up until they were going out so I might be hanging around all morning just to see the do not disturb sign go up as they left.

To summarise - some quick tips for room tidies

It's up to you to decide how your own B&B will run, whether you'll have opt in or opt out room tidies, what they involve and how you'll communicate this to guests.

You could do this in the pre arrival email, in person at arrival time or over breakfast, in the room information folder or in a separate notice or poster.

  • Give the guests the option to either opt out or opt in to room tidies with a time frame for them letting you know which they prefer e.g. hang the sign on the door by 11am or let us know at breakfast
  • Let them know what a room tidy involves so there are no misunderstandings
  • Have a clear time frame for when the room tidies will be done
  • Explain what will happen if personal belongings are left on the bed/on the floor etc

Who knew there could be so much to a simple room tidy?

If you find this blog post useful and what you discover what’s involved in running a B&B in my online course and join the discussion with course attendees here >> Click here to find out more

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