Weekly insights for anyone who wants to set up, buy, run and market a successful B&B


I send an email each week with links to the latest blog post, updates on the training courses and other B&B related news.



**Alt Text Description:** A wooden crate labeled

What to Put in Your Guest Welcome Basket | Bed and Breakfast Academy

running a bed and breakfast starting up a bed and breakfast Jul 15, 2024

Whenever we go away on holiday to a cottage, hotel or B&B, as soon as I get in the room, I’m busy searching around to see what goodies there are.

Are there nice toiletries? What’s on the tea tray? Are there homemade biscuits and fresh milk? What’s in the welcome folder? Oooh a loofah mitt thingie…

I’m sure I’m not alone in doing this. Unless we’re staying in a utilitarian Premier Inn “bed for the night”, I think most guests like to be surprised with little extras.

In this blog post I discuss:

  1. Should you provide a B&B welcome basket?
  2. What to put in your B&B welcome basket?
  3. Why you should review your welcome basket offering regularly
  4. Is it a good idea to offer different welcome baskets to different “tiers” of guests
  5. Should you charge for B&B welcome basket goodies?

Thank you Clare and Dave at the lovely School House B&B in Chapel Lawn for letting me use one of their B&B rooms for a photoshoot and to John at Shropshire and Beyond for allowing me to use their lovely calendars and postcards.

Just a heads up, this is a paid sponsored post. This blog relies 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 I trust, helps me keep providing valuable content to you for free.I'll be recommending some products from the UK 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.

You Provide a Guest Welcome Basket?

When I mention a welcome basket, I don't mean just a basket with everything piled in, though that looks nice and welcoming. Out of Eden offers a selection of baskets, including a rustic crate that I particularly like. What I'm really talking about are all the little extras you provide for your guests.

Whether you give your guests a welcome basket or not depends on your pricing and the type of guests you cater to.

The more expensive and luxurious the accommodation, the more attention to detail and little treats guests will expect.

If your B&B mainly serves guests who just need a bed for the night, a welcome basket might be less important than for a B&B that attracts guests staying for longer periods and aiming to create repeat business.

Consider your budget and costs, but also think strategically about the long-term benefits of making your guests feel special. Balance the cost of providing a few extras now with the potential of turning those guests into repeats, who book directly and save you 15% on OTA fees!

I used to provide a whole lemon drizzle cake and homemade shortbread for each set of arriving guests. There was also fresh milk in the fridge and bottled and filtered tap water. But I charged a lot for my B&B rooms and relied on repeat guests, so that approach maybe overkill for your business.

If you don't have a fridge, then these milk bottle flasks are a great way of providing fresh milk for guests who don't like UHT.

Many guests left reviews saying they loved all the extras, and they often came back!

My repeat guests eventually accounted for 70% of my bookings. I'm confident that, after getting the B&B basics right, the lemon drizzle cake played a big part in that repeat business!

What Should You Put in a B&B Welcome Basket?

What you include in your bed and breakfast welcome basket is going to depend on your time commitments, the type of guests you want to attract, budget and the cost.

A B&B in the countryside, without eating places that guests can visit on foot, may do better offering cake, than a B&B in a town or city centre with lots of tea rooms and cafes.

You might find guests prefer healthier options such as fruit bowl in the room or snack packets of seeds and nuts.

If you're still stuck for ideas on what to offer, check the reviews of successful B&Bs on Tripadvisor or the OTAs and see if you can get some ideas about what their guests love about their visit!

Sweet Treats

In terms of cost, baking your own cakes with the right recipe is relatively cheap to do. 

I buy the cheapest flour I can get and buy butter when it was on special offer. Butter lasts a long time and both flour and butter can be frozen. What it will cost you is a bit of time. And to do this you need to find the the "right" recipe.  That's important as both a cost and a time saver.

If you don't have time to bake your own, or it's not right for your market, Out of Eden offers an excellent range of quality biscuits. Or you or offering some sweets and chocolates is also a nice touch.

My lemon drizzle cake recipe makes 3 whole loaf cakes at a time - it freezes beautifully. It's an all in one recipe - chuck all the cake ingredients into a mixer, mix on high for 2 minutes and it’s ready to bake.

If you choose a recipe that takes a lot of different steps and only makes one cake, it’s going to take much more time and effort to make it for each set of guests - or I guess you could just give them a slice!

The advantage of giving the guests a whole cake in their room meant I wasn't having to constantly fill up their cake tins - though it wasn’t that rare of an occurrence for guests to eat a whole lemon drizzle on their first evening here…

You can find my lemon drizzle cake recipe here >> Karen's lemon drizzle cake
And my shortbread recipe here >> Karen's shortbread recipe

What to give guests with special dietary requirements

I used to find that guests with special dietary requirements were extra pleased if you made the effort to provide them with goodies suitable for their diets.

A lemon drizzle cake made from gluten free ingredients always took extra time and expense, but it was worth it for the glowing reviews and improved chance of turning them into a repeat guest!

Learn more in this blog post >> How to cater for guests with special dietary requirements

Non Food Goodies

Supplying your guests with toiletries is usually expected today. But offering them particularly nice toiletries and the right choice will give you bonus points. One of my bugbears is conditioning shampoo - extra points from me to any accommodation that provides separate shampoo and conditioner!

I’ve written a blog post all about choosing the right toiletries for your B&B. You can read it here >> Choosing Toiletries for Your Bed and Breakfast

One thing I did that guests loved was leaving a postcard on the bed. It was a postcard I made from one of my own photos.

What really made it popular was that it had a stamp on it, along with a note telling guests where the nearest post box was. It was rare that the postcard wasn't taken and sent to friends.

Of course, the postcard had my B&B info on it, so the friend receiving it now knew about my business!

If you don’t have your own postcards, you could buy some from a local business and put a label on them with your business name and website.

You could also include blank greeting cards. If you know your guests are staying for a special occasion, a card from the host is usually appreciated.

Itineraries, Maps and guides

Whenever my guests arrived, I’d ask them what they were planning to do during their stay. And I lost count of the people who replied with “We haven’t really got any plans, what would you suggest?”. So I’m a huge fan of providing itineraries for guests - both in advance on your B&B blog or by email, and in the room when they arrive.

Suggested itineraries save you time in repeating the same information to guests over and over, and they are a huge added value item for guests.
You could buy a local guide book or map, and leave it in the room or you could put your own itinerary together.

An itinerary might be a suggestions for a day out, with several places to visit, somewhere nice to stop for lunch including distances and driving times.

If you're catering to a specific market such as dog owners or those with different accessibility requirements, you could put together the perfect itinerary for them.

Whilst a lot of B&Bs have swapped over to welcome information online, which is great for guests to plan with prior to their stay, I do think it's nice to find a hardcopy guest information folder in the room.  Out of Eden have a good selection

Bucket Lists

Consider putting a bucket list of local things to do together for your guests - again on your website, in the welcome email and printed off in your room.

Challenges, such as ticking everything off on the bucket list, are hugely popular in the marketing world right now and they are a great way of helping guests explore the area. I'm sure I'm not alone in loving my I Spy books when I was a kid!

You could encourage your guests to share photos or videos of the bucket list items or activities on social media, getting them to tag you in or using a hashtag you've created.

The good thing about a bucket list is the more competitive guests may want to make a return visit to finish ticking items off. I often had guests say to me “We didn’t realise there was so much to do, we’ll be coming back”

You could do nature bucket lists, or seasonal bucket lists.

I’ve included a Canva template for a bucket list with some examples to give you some ideas - get the template here >> Bed and Breakfast Bucket List Examples

The Forget Me Not Box!

A B&B bedroom "forget-me-not" box typically includes essential items that guests might have forgotten to pack.

Head over to the Out of Eden amenities page for a whole load of goodies!

Common items you might include are:

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Disposable razor and shaving cream
  • Comb or hairbrush
  • Deodorant
  • Sanitary products
  • Shower cap
  • Sewing kit
  • Cotton buds and cotton balls
  • Plasters
  • Nail file
  • Tweezers
  • Safety pins
  • Earplugs
  • Sleep mask
  • Facial tissues
  • Hand sanitiser
  • Mouthwash
  • Shoe Mitt
  • Make up remover wipes
  • Stain remover wipes
  • Lens cleaning wipes for glasses
  • Face masks

These items can help guests feel more comfortable and taken care of during their stay, even if they've forgotten something important.

Should You Charge for Items in Your Forget Me Not Box?

 In the section below, I discuss whether or not to charge for items in your welcome basket. Personally, I prefer not to charge, as I find it off-putting to enter a hotel room and see everything with a price tag.

However, it can be frustrating when guests take all the items from the forget-me-not box, which happened to me a couple of times. To prevent this, you can include a note saying something like:

"We have provided this forget-me-not box for your convenience, with essential items you may have forgotten to bring. If you use any items, please leave a note so we can replace them for the next guests."


"We have provided this forget-me-not box for your convenience, with essential items you may have forgotten to bring. If you use any items, please consider leaving a donation in our charity box."

These gentle prompts encourage guests to be considerate and hopefully deter them from taking everything.

Why you should review your welcome basket offer regularly

You may have lots of ideas for what to put in your welcome basket but some items may be of more value to guests than others.

I used to put  local crisps and a small bottle of wine in the room, alongside the fresh milk, water, cake and shortbread.

Remember if you’re giving guests alcohol, even if it’s provide “FREE” you will need an alcohol licence - you can read more here >> Do you need a licence to sell alcohol at your B&B?

But I found the crisps and wine were NEVER mentioned by guests in reviews. So I decided to stop offering the crisps and wine and no one ever mentioned to me that they missed them!

That saved me quite a bit per guest stay without affecting the guests’ experience.

So make sure you’re keeping a close eye on what your guests are saying to you and check your reviews carefully and consider removing items if they aren’t mentioned very often.


Consider offering different goodies to different “tiers” of guests

I’m a huge fan of email marketing. You can read why here >> 3 reasons why email marketing is important for a B&B.

But it can be difficult to get people to sign up, so it’s a good idea to offer an incentive to them to join your list.

You could create some type of “club” for email subscribers offering them extras that other guests don’t get. For example:

  • Early check in
  • Late checkout
  • Free platter
  • Free drink ( if you’re licensed )
  • A free copy of a local map, guide book or calendar
  • Extra goodies in the welcome basket

You might also consider doing something similar for your repeat guests, even if they're not on your email list.

One of our favourite small hotels always used to leave a couple of chocolates or a jar of local honey with a welcome back card. Nothing big, but we always appreciated the recognition that we were repeat guests. 

Should you charge for welcome basket goodies?

Another of my bugbears is paying a lot of money for a hotel or B&B room, then finding that I have to pay another couple of quid for the mineral water in the room.

We once stayed at a “boutique” B&B on the coast that had a lot of goodies in the room - everything with a price label on it! And they weren’t cheap. To be honest, I’d rather they’d put the price up by £10 a night and offered us the goodies for free.

It’s getting that balance of creating extra income from an upsell, with creating a special experience for guests and potentially turning them into repeat business.

Probably a better way of doing it is to give your guests something for free, then also offering them for sale.

For example,

  • I offered the lemon drizzle cake and shortbread for free, but if guests wanted a different cake such as a Victoria sponge, they could order that and pay for it as an extra
  • Offer them free cake and biscuits and give them the option of buying additional cakes or biscuits to take home
  • Give your guests a free post or greetings card and then offer additional cards, or calendars for sale
  • Provide free toiletries whilst they stay, but offer them for sale to take home

In conclusion, providing thoughtful extras in your B&B, such as welcome baskets, can significantly enhance your guests' experience and encourage repeat business. Pay attention to what your guests comment on and consider offering different goodies to different tiers of guests. Regularly review and adjust your offerings based on guest feedback to ensure you're providing value without unnecessary costs.

Remember, small touches like homemade cakes, personalised postcards, and quality toiletries can make a big difference. Whether you decide to charge for extras or include them in your room rate, focus on creating a special experience that sets your B&B apart.

For a comprehensive training on how to run your own B&B, check out my course >> How to set up, run and market your own B&B

Stay connected with news and updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news & updates from B&B Academy
Don't worry, your information will not be shared 

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason. You can unsubscribe at any time