1. Travel
Send to a Friend via Email
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Setting House Rules for Your Bed and Breakfast

Part of a worksheet series for aspiring bed and breakfast innkeepers


Setting the house rules is an important step in preparing to open your bed and breakfast. House rules are the rules you want your guests to follow.

You should establish these ground rules -- and be prepared to enforce them -- before receiving your first guests. Guests will need to be made aware of your decisions before staying at your bed and breakfast in order to avoid possible conflicts.

  • Will you allow children?
    If so, Will you only allow certain ages? More bed and breakfasts are accepting children, but that decision is up to you. You may enjoy children, but will your other guests? Who will your guests be? Will you target groups that want to be around children or not? Make sure that this rule is made clear to potential guests in your brochure and advertising.

  • Will you permit guests to use your phone?
    Perhaps you will allow only local calls. You may suggest that all long distance calls be done with a phone calling card or charge an extra fee for any long distance calls. Will you provide a phone in each guest room? This will be a requirement if you try to attract business travelers. As always, let your guests know the policy in advance to avoid problems.

  • Will you allow guests to bring their pets?
    Do you have pets of your own? Be sure to inform all concerned parties about your policy. Non-pet owners may object, and some guests will be highly allergic to certain animals -- so always alert potential guests to any resident pets. If you do allow guests to bring their own animals, where will they stay? Inside? Outside? Restricted areas of the house? Remember, if you have a dog that protects your home by nipping at strangers, it could mean a lawsuit someday.

  • How do you feel about guests bringing other people into your home?
    May guests take others to their room? Is there a public area that can be used? You may want to set a specific time after which only guests may be in your home.

  • Will smoking be permitted?
    You may want to keep smoking limited to certain areas in or around your home or simply say "no smoking is permitted."

  • Will you allow social drinking?
    Some people enjoy a cocktail before dinner and may bring a bottle with them. Some hosts offer wine or other liquor to their guests. In most areas, you may not sell alcoholic drinks in your bed and breakfast without a special liquor license. You must also consider the fact that if an accident occurs and the guest says your served him liquor, it's possible that you can be held liable. Check your state's laws before moving forward in this area. If you prefer that no alcoholic drinks be consumed in your home, say so to your guests.

  • Will you allow guests to use your kitchen or laundry facilities?
    Do you want strangers roaming around in your kitchen or laundry when you're not there? Will you allow limited access when it's convenient for other family members? Do you want others cooking on the premises? Perhaps you can provide a separate small refrigerator and/or ice maker in a public area where guests may store items and be able to help themselves to ice and beverages at their convenience.

It's important to make your rules and expectations very clear to your guests. This should be done on your Web site and reinforced verbally when booking a guest. You should hit the highlights again upon their arrival. The use of written "house rules" posted tastefully in each guest room is another method some hosts use.

Many innkeepers believe that it's better to have a guest stay elsewhere than to have them get upset unnecessarily.

This series of worksheets and information was originally written by Eleanor Ames, a Certified Family Consumer Sciences professional and a faculty member at Ohio State University for 28 years. With her husband, she ran the Bluemont Bed and Breakfast in Luray, Virginia, until they retired from innkeeping. Many thanks to Eleanor for her gracious permission to reprint them here. Some content has been edited, and links to related features on this site have been added to Eleanor's original text.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.