Choose your country

Or view all businesses for sale


Sell Your Business

How to run an unsuccessful bed and breakfast

How to run an unsuccessful bed and breakfast

While it’s fun and exciting to read glowing accounts of how a business owner did things right and built a successful, long-standing business as a result, we can often learn even more by taking a look at business owners who really drop the ball.

The Bed and Breakfast (B&B) is a great example of the kind of business where doing it wrong can come back to bite you hard and quick. This is because of the personal, intimate nature of the business – you’re having guests in your home to eat, sleep, shower, and generally enjoy their lives while away from their own home. As such, at least being “good enough” is vital.

Otherwise, as the following selection of one-star reviews from TripAdvisor illustrate, your guests can soon become your enemies. (Please note: the names of the B&Bs in question and all identifying details have been omitted from this article.)

Be rude

“The unpleasant person running it was rude and made disquieting remarks about my girlfriend.”

If you wish to file for bankruptcy within six months, be rude to your guests. Since running a B&B hinges completely on making guests comfortable and happy during their stay, rudeness by staff is a guaranteed fast way to make your B&B unsuccessful.

Stay hidden

“It took ages to find the place because we were sent no directions, the B&B has no signs, and it looks just like an ordinary house… (The owner) texted us instructions to get in which included finding our keys in an ashtray… We did not see any staff until five minutes before we needed to leave.”

Right up there with being rude is simply not being there at all.

It sounds as if this B&B owner would have preferred not to have guests, doing everything to make it difficult for anyone to stay with them, and even harder for guests to enjoy their stay.

Create uncomfortable experiences

“Four of us booked a ‘cottage’ that could accommodate six. We learned on arrival that the proprietor had decided to put another couple (unknown to us) in the cottage. One of us spent the night on an army cot on the kitchen floor. In the morning we found bagels, no cream cheese, hard doughnuts, animal crackers, cereal with no milk, and no coffee was provided.”

There are few things your weary travelers will appreciate less than bunking with complete strangers at the drop of a hat. And, of course, offering the most embarrassingly cheap breakfast imaginable tends to score very low points in their minds as well. Especially when you skip the coffee.

Ignore the rules of privacy

“(The host) had no respect for our privacy and entered our rooms throughout the stay without permission, including disrupting my sister while she was in the bathroom!”

Nothing lets your guests know how little you care like dropping in unexpectedly while they’re using the bathroom. Even though they’re staying in someone else’s home (yours!), their privacy is still of utmost importance.

Don’t clean

“The sheets had not been changed from the previous visitors as evidenced by all of the sand we found in the bed!”

This probably goes without saying, but if you’re going to spend your time cleaning all those guest rooms and keeping the kitchen tidy, you’re going to be stuck running your B&B for a long time. Best to let them go a bit if you’re looking to make your business unsuccessful.

If you’ve read this far, but realized that you’re actually here on because you’re interested in buying a Bed and Breakfast and doing it right, then you’re going to want to read this article to see what that’s all about.


Subscribe to our monthly newsletter


Are you a Business Owner?

Set up your Private Seller Account and create your listing today

Get Started Here

Are you a Business Broker?

Set up your BrokerWeb Account and list multiple businesses

Get Started Here