UK Bed and Breakfast Accommodation

Category:   Bed and Breakfast
As one time regular guests at Bed and Breakfast accommodation establishments throughout the UK and Europe we were always amazed at the quantity, quality and diversity of accommodation. The friendliness and willingness to help has always been a hallmark of the small B&B especially within the UK.

I can't remember the last time we stayed in a hotel. Why pay extra for a hotel when B&B accommodation offers so much more in homeliness, character and personal service. The success and number of B&Bs throughout the UK has partly been due to the ease of starting the business and the lack of regulation imposed on what is usually a second income or diversification (as is the case of Farmhouse B&B).

As from October 2006 all UK businesses have to comply with the new Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005. The initial thoughts of the industry were that this would pass us by, as has most legislation in the past. Just carry out a Fire Risk Assessment (as advised by the Tourist Board) and everything would be fine.

Accommodation providers in the UK with less than 3 rooms have usually been exempt from the regulations imposed on their bigger brothers. Unfortunately this is not going to be the case this time. The fire services appear to be classifying all accommodation providers the same way. This is likely to mean fire doors, fire alarms, unsightly fire notices (that few read) and probably, in the extreme, boxed in landings and fire escapes. As most B&B are also where the owners live, most of us are going to find it difficult to deface our homes with these measures. Also In some cases the costs are likely to be prohibitive.

A few years ago I would have said this was just alarmist but following the experience of our neighbours (one of many peak district cottages in the area) I am not so sure. They were visited by a fire officer who declared their upstairs room as unsafe and a fire escape, fire door and boxed in landing was required. The neighbour took this as advisory and discusses the issue with a number of other authorities (including the Tourist Board) who all felt they were safe as they only had three rooms. A few days later the Fire officer accompanied by 2 other colleagues returned and demanded that the room be closed 'Immediately'. This was a major problem as there were guests in the room at the time. After some discussion it was agreed that as a 'Closure notice' could not be issued that day the room could remain occupied but would need to be closed the next day. Again after much discussion it was agreed that if a temporary fire escape could be erected then the closer notice would be removed. The next day the fire officer dully arrived and issued the 'closure notice'. This was withdrawn later in the day after the fire officer agreed that the temporary escape route, hastily erected out of scaffolding, was adequate. They still are discussing the issue of fire doors, boxing in the landing and fire alarms.

Although this is currently an isolated incident, our neighbour's B&B is no different to ours or any other in country. When the inspectors arrive at our B&B we expect the same problems. As we are not going to deface our home in the way the fire services seem to be demanding, we, along with many others, are going to have to close.

Although this is a problem for the B&B provider there is also likely to be a major knock-on affect to the local economy. In our case this will affect our; cleaner, handyman, butchers, greengrocers, the local lady who supplies our jams etc, the local restaurants and pubs our guest eat in etc. Bakewell will move even further towards a 'day trippers' town with the subsequent downturn in income. In short this is not just a B&B problem it is a local tourist trade problem. I feel sure some B&Bs will carry out the work required by the fire authorities but many more won't. Are we seeing the end of the UK B&B?

As we also have a number of self catering Holiday cottages within the Peak District we are also concerned at the impact this legislation is likely to have on them.

Chris Swaap along with his wife Shirley run a small 2 bedroom B&B accommodation and 8 self catering holiday cottages in the UK Peak District National Park - Derbyshire.

Peak District Accommodation