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What is the Difference Between a B&B and a Guest House?


We get asked a lot about this question by aspiring B&B and guest house owners when they are looking for a suitable category for their establishment. As an accommodation business owner, it is very important get this right so as to not confuse your customers. Whether you like it or not, your customers will always have a perception about your establishment based on what you call it. So what is the difference between a B&B and a guest house? Let's unpack it here:



Generally B&Bs are smaller establishments than guest houses. A Bed & Breakfast is usually up to 3 guest rooms, while a guest house can be 4 even up to 16 or more rooms. In a nutshell, most B&Bs caters for maximum 6 guests at a time. In a B&B the owner stays in the property and there's no formal reception area, bar or restaurant to serve lunch and dinner. If at all a B&B may have a small dining area to cater for breakfast only. In a guest house, you may find other services like a licensed bar, guest swimming pool, spa, etc. 


Organizational Structure

When it comes to organizational structure, the two are run differently. Most B&Bs are managed and run by the owner who stays in the property, while in Guest Houses are run at a more professional level. In a Guest House, the owner may run it themselves or employ a Manager to run it on their behalf. You will also find a reception area in a guest house where guests check-in and check-out, while in a B&B, you may be checked-in even from your car and given a key to your room. In a guest house you may also find other support staff like a receptionist and housekeeping staff. 


Services Rendered

As mentioned before, a Guest House is run on a professional level than a B&B. Bed & Breakfasts cater only for breakfast while guest houses may cater for even lunch and dinner. Both properties offer daily housekeeping and should have en-suite bathrooms. In short, B&Bs are private homes that offer lodging and breakfast facilities. B&Bs are more homely than guest houses. In a B&B you will most likely meet the owner (and his cats and dogs), while in a guest house, this may not be the case. 


In summary, it is very important to choose the category that best suits your establishment as this will have a direct impact on how your prospective guests think of your accommodation business. If you are converting your own home and you will be staying there with your family while selling some few rooms to guests, then you may have to call it a B&B, while if you are looking to run a small accommodation business (between 4-16 rooms), you may have to call it a Guest House. 


Advice to B&B owners

Remember that your guests are not your friends. Yes, they are in your space, however, they still deserve the same privacy. Kindly afford them. To run a B&B requires you as the owner to understand that you cannot be checking up on your guests every 5 minutes. Give them respect and they will do the same. 


Also as a B&B owner, be considerate with your guests. They are paying their hard erned money to stay in your property. Treat them as customers, they will do the marketing for you. 


Bed & Breakfast Management Distance Learning Course


Running a B&B is not as easy as it looks. The potential to make a lot of money is there, as well as the potential of running it to the ground. We recommend that you consider enrolling for the B&B Management Distance Learning Course in order to get all the tools you need to run your business professionally and make good profit. You study in the comfort of your own space in your own pace. Everything is sent to you via email and you submit assignments via email. On another article, we will talk about the difference between a guest house and Airbnb.


I hope this article helps. Leave us a comment below. 


Kind Regards, 


Samkeliso Nkwanyane

Hospitality Coach, Speakr and Consultant