Guesthouse, Hotel, or B&B?

In a German travel book, the following anecdote appears. The author is touring England. One evening, he books into a B&B: that is, a Bed and Breakfast. He unpacks, showers, has a comfy sleep, and enjoys his coffee and croissants at breakfast. And he then decides to look round the town.

This being England, it starts raining, and the author gets drenched. He squishes back to his B&B and knocks on the door. "Can I come in?" A ferocious landlady thrusts her chin towards him. "Breakfast you have had this morning" she roars. "Bed you shall have this evening. We are not a hotel!"

Though most B&Bs do allow their guests to use their rooms at any time, the story makes the point that a B&B is a small business, not offering many facilities. Most B&Bs are a private houses or farms with a few rooms to let. The owner usually lives in the house, often being semi-retired or supplementing other income earned working from home. B&Bs tend not to have a bar or serve dinner.

Hotels, on the other hand, do. The Automobile Association (AA) defines a hotel as serving a cooked or continental breakfast seven days a week, and offering evening meals at least five days a week. This and other requirements are explained in Hotel Quality Standards, published by AA Hotel Services. As the AA Hospitality Awards page 100 Years of AA Hotel Star Ratings explains, the AA invented star ratings at the dawn of motoring when people drove cars mainly for touring.

Guesthouses lie somewhere between hotels and B&Bs.

Because Henry's doesn't serve breakfast, we can't call it a hotel. Is that a defect? No! Many of our guests will be academics or businesspeople who will be meeting colleagues to have breakfast, or who will skip it expecting a big conference lunch. But whether eating with colleagues or alone, there are so many cafés in the city centre, that you will probably walk less distance to your breakfast from Henry's, than you would from your room to the breakfast room in a big hotel. Indeed, the nearest is just next door: the Handle Bar, currently serving breakfast from 8am every day except Sunday, when it opens at 10.