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Bed & Breakfasts around the World.

Posted on April 18, 2008 at 6:18 PM

Bed and breakfast, also known as B&B, is a term, originating in the United Kingdom, but now also used in the USA and Canada, for an establishment that offers bed accommodation, and breakfast in return for payment, but usually does not offer other meals. Typically, bed and breakfasts are private homes with only one or two bedrooms available for commercial use.

A boarding house is different from and has a longer history than a bed and breakfast facility. The boarding house is for longer term stays, whereas bed and breakfast is for people travelling through the area on short stays.

Generally, guests are accommodated in private bedrooms with private bathrooms, or in a suite of rooms including an en suite bathroom. Some homes have private bedrooms with a bathroom which is shared with another guest or sometimes more than one other guest. Breakfast is served in the morning � in  the bedroom, a dining room, or the host's kitchen.

B&Bs and guest houses may be operated either as a secondary source of income or a primary occupation. Staff can consist of the home's owners and family members, or you may find some bed and breakfasts where the home's owners have hired cleaning, cooking and other staff. A property which hires professional management is no longer a bed and breakfast, but enters the category of Inn, Guest House or Small Hotel. B&B's are a form of a tertiary business.


Despite the cultural similarities, there are far fewer B&B's in the whole continent of Australia than there are in just the South Island of New Zealand despite the resident population being more than twenty times greater.

Since 1879 the average per capita disposable income of Australians has been greater than that of New Zealanders and this has mitigated the powerful incentive to let out rooms in their homes to travelers. Another factor may be that Australia has, apart from City States such as Singapore, the greatest concentration of city dwellers anywhere on the globe and these cities are amply supplied with budget hotels and motels.


In Belgium bed and breakfasts generally offer better value than hotels, and provide the opportunity to sample the local food and meet new people. Bed and breakfast accommodations often have a very relaxing, homey feel to them.

Britain and Ireland

B&Bs, and frequently guest houses, are a budget option where owners often take pride in the high service levels, local knowledge and personal touch that they are able to offer.

There tend to be concentrations of B&Bs in the seaside towns where, historically, the working classes holidayed such as Newcastle in Ireland and Blackpool in England, in isolated rural areas such as the Highlands of Scotland and Connemara where there is not a year-round concentration of travellers sufficient to sustain an hotel, and are present in most towns and cities in numbers dependent upon factors such as the level of tourism, York in England and Edinburgh in Scotland, for example, both have several hundred establishments known as either B&B's or guest houses.

Breakfast is usually cooked on demand for the guest and usually features bacon, eggs, sausages, tomatoes, mushrooms and baked beans, but some offer a continental breakfast.

In recent years some bed and breakfast businesses in the UK have struggled against budget hotel chains such as Premier Travel Inn and Travelodge. Traditionally, business travellers used B&Bs but many of these clients now tend to stay in budget hotel chains. However, in holiday areas the B&B and guest house still prevails. Unlike the 'chain' accommodation providers these provide a more comprehensive service and breakfast is included in the price.


In Cuba, which opened up to tourism in the 1990s after the financial support of the Soviet Union ended, a form of B&B called casa particular ("private home") became the main form of accommodation outside the tourist resorts.


The Israeli B&B is known as a zimmer (German for room). All over the country, but especially in the north of the country and the Galilee, zimmers have become a popular alternative to hotels for romantic weekends or family vacations.

New Zealand

A Centre of New Zealand Bed and Breakfast
A Centre of New Zealand Bed and Breakfast

As in the USA, Bed and Breakfasts in New Zealand tend to be more expensive than Motels and often feature historic homes and lovingly furnished bedrooms at a commensurate price. The historic city of Nelson has an unusually high concentration of both of these accommodations and alternatives because it was historically the place where kiwis holidayed.

North America

Many B&Bs in North America try to create a historical ambiance, with old properties turned into guesthouses decorated with antique furniture. For example, the Holladay House in Orange, Virginia is an 1830s Federal-style brick building that has been converted into a bed and breakfast. Recently, B&B and Inn owners have been launching upscale amenities to improve business and move "up-market." It is not uncommon now to find free wireless Internet access, free parking, spa services, or nightly wine and cheese hours. Due to the need to stay competitive with the rest of the lodging industry, larger bed and breakfast inns have expanded to offer wedding services, business conference facilities, and meeting spaces as well as many other services a large hotel might offer.


Regulations and laws vary considerably in each national jurisdiction both in content and extent and in enforcement.

The most common regulations B&Bs must follow pertain to safety. They are usually required by local and national ordinances to have fire resistance, a sufficient fire escape plan in place, and smoke detectors in each guest room. Kitchens and equipment used to serve meals are also often required to be monitored for hygienic operation, but there are significant national and local differences.

Most B&Bs are generally compliant with their jurisdiction's laws.

In Hawaii, it is illegal to open an new bed & breakfast on Oahu as of 1989.The reason for the moratorium is to force home owners with extra room to rent out their extra space to low income residents who otherwise cannot afford housing on crowded Oahu.

National associations

In the patio of a guest house in Tamchy, Kyrgyzstan

In the patio of a guest house in Tamchy, Kyrgyzstan

While various local governments have regulations and inspect for health issues and fire safety code, membership in a state/provincial/national bed and breakfast association can indicate a higher standard of hospitality. Associations sometimes review their members' properties and tend to have additional standards of care.

These associations also facilitate marketing of the individual B&Bs and provide a stamp of approval that the business in question is reputable. This "stamp of approval", however, may be just an indication that membership dues have been paid.


Two for-profit professional innkeeper associations that operate in the United States are the Professional Association of Innkeepers International and Select Registry. Most states also have state associations. These associations are usually non-profit organizations.

The Professional Association of Innkeepers International (PAII) is a national for-profit organization with members in the U.S., Canada, and other countries. PAII currently holds annual trade conferences for education of innkeepers and prospective innkeepers. Attendance to these conferences is open and well advertised to all. PAII also provides an industry study to all of its members at low cost that details operations and finance of the industry.

Select Registry is a national organization that inspects its member properties on a regular basis, beyond routine inspections that may be carried out by the local government.

The Caucus of American Innkeepers (or CAIK) is a social and professional networking organization for owners of B&Bs, country inns, and similar properties.

The Bettina Network, is a national network of private homes which accept bed and breakfast guests. All homes are thoroughly checked out by someone from the Network spending the night in the home. The network handles all aspects of the room (pricing, advertising, reservations, payment collection etc). Questionnaires are sent to each guest to insure the satisfaction of all who use the service.

In the US, states also have innkeeping associations that are usually non-profit and exist to promote the industry and state tourism. However, many state associations, such as the Bed and Breakfast Association of Virginia (BBAV) have rigorous inspection criteria that often exceed government requirements for safety and cleanliness.

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