Tourism is big business in the UK – according to the B&B Association, hospitality is the UK’s fourth largest industry, contributing £115 billion to the UK economy and providing jobs for 2.68 million people. Within this, the B&B sector consists of some 25,000 small businesses, and is worth £2 billion. (1)

With the unpredictability of the cost of foreign travel due to external factors including Brexit, now could be the ideal time to set up your own B&B business in the UK. But where do you start? Here’s an overview of things you need to consider.

Find the Right Property

There are several options in setting up a B&B. You could purchase an established B&B, buy a building and convert it, or convert your existing home.

Buying an established business is the easiest option, as it will already have a client base and it should be easier to get finance. It may cost more however, and you should consider why the current owner is leaving.

If converting a property, ensure you have enough bedrooms for you and your family to live comfortably, and consider whether you will need some private living space. Remember, most people tend to prefer a private bathroom, so either purchase a place with multiple en-suites, or ensure there is space to fit them.


Loving a location doesn’t automatically mean it’s a perfect spot for a B&B. If it’s too remote you may not see enough trade, especially if there are no facilities such as restaurants in walking distance – not everybody wants to drive.

Opting for a traditional tourist destination means you will have lots of competition, but there will also be plenty of demand.

If possible, speak to other B&B owners in the area before making a decision.

B&B Rules and Regulations

Before opening your B&B, you need to register with your local authority, and if you’re converting the property you may have to apply to your local planning office for change of use.

Since 2006, all B&B owners have to follow new regulations regarding fire safety, which means carrying out a fire risk assessment on their property.  Details are set out in a Government document (2) and VisitBritain has a fire risk assessment tool with step-by-step guidance (3).

Although you may not have a professional kitchen, there are still Food Safety Regulations to adhere to. (4) You may also have to apply for licences if you wish to serve alcohol, play music, or have televisions in over 15 rooms. (5)

Register with HMRC

All new businesses need to register with HMRC for tax purposes. You can be a sole trader, but you need to register within 100 days of starting your venture. (6)

B&B Insurance

With guests coming and going and you cooking and cleaning, B&B owners face plenty of daily risks. Among the insurance cover you should consider is public and product liability, building and contents cover, employers liability (if you have employees), business interruption cover, and possessions cover. Consult a specialist business broker for further information.


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