Thousands of us have pondered a change in lifestyle during the pandemic. And while many have opted for life in the country, it doesn’t mean they’ve taken an easy option.
Indeed, some have stopped being city slickers doing the nine-to-five and now run a bed and breakfast, which can mean working 12 hours, seven days a week.
The first challenge is to find the right property in the right place, especially in light of both the challenge of coronavirus and the rival accommodation option of Airbnb and similar services.
A B&B in Cornwall’s Tintagel. The first challenge for prospective B&B owners is to find the right property in the right place
‘There’s so much to consider, more than most people expect,’ says George Reid, who with his wife Linda runs Glangwili Mansion, a five-star B&B in the Brechfa Forest in south-west Wales.
The couple also operate B&B Mentors, a business offering training to people considering a lifestyle switch to hospitality.
‘Getting the correct property is the first step. You have to consider privacy – yours as much as your guests – so the flow of a house needs to allow you to secure your own area, while allowing visitors to come and go as they wish,’ says George, who will often visit properties with newcomers to the business, and sometimes has to advise against a purchase.
‘It’s essential to judge whether a property will get the appropriate licensing from a local authority, and can be upgraded to meet planning, as well as health and safety regulations,’ he adds.
His courses – which cover business plans, hospitality law, insurance and marketing – can also reveal whether prospective B&B owners know what they’re letting themselves in for.
Food for thought: An English breakfast
‘Many people think it’s a case of serving breakfast and having the rest of the day to yourself after 10am. Sadly, not the case.’
In today’s Covid-conscious times issues like cleaning rooms take three times as long as before, but there’s no shortage of people wanting to make the transition.
Trade body the Bed And Breakfast Association estimates there are about 20,000 B&Bs in the country.
Experienced buying agents such as Rachel Johnston, of Stacks Property Search, says demand is as high as ever, typically from people aged 45 and over seeking a new challenge.
‘Buyers shouldn’t restrict their thinking to leisure,’ she says. ‘Some of the best performing B&Bs are located near large employers with a requirement for fixed-term contracts – Jaguar Land Rover is a good example.’
Thanks to the virus, there’s been a change in the kind of property best suited to B&Bs. ‘There’s been a great deal of interest in properties that have annexes and wings, where B&B guests can have their own entrance,’ she adds.
And there are other features to consider. These range from large cookers for those big breakfasts, extractor fans in bathrooms and loos, fire extinguishers and doors up to fire safety standards, health and safety signs, and now Covid-secure features.
Outside, there would ideally be parking for several vehicles and the place needs to make a good first impression.
VisitBritain has an online guide – the Pink Book – serving as the definitive list of regulations which B&B owners have to master, while local authorities and devolved governments may have separate requirements.
Holiday insurance firm Schofields carried out a survey before the virus outbreak, which revealed 30 per cent of Britons would consider swapping a holiday abroad for one in the UK to reduce the impact of travel on the environment.
So now is the chance to fulfil that lockdown dream of a new direction in a new home with a new challenge.
But remember, running a B&B isn’t just a breakfast job.