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Navigating Alcohol Licensing for Your Holiday Lets and B&Bs

Self Catering - 16.04.2024

Disclaimer: This blog is for information purposes only; you should always check with your local enforcement bodies what is necessary for your specific situation. 

 Are you considering adding a touch of hospitality by offering alcohol to your guests at your holiday lets or B&B? It's a thoughtful gesture that can enhance their experience. However, before you pop open that bottle of wine, let's delve into the world of alcohol licensing to ensure you're on the right side of the law.

Wine Hamper

Understanding Alcohol Licensing

Alcohol, being an age-restricted item, is subject to strict regulations. The sale and provision of alcohol are closely monitored to uphold public safety and prevent abuse. This is where alcohol licenses come into play. According to the Licensing Act, these licenses serve four key objectives: preventing crime and disorder, ensuring public safety, preventing public nuisance, and safeguarding children from harm or exploitation. 

But here's a question many overlook: Do you need an alcohol license to gift alcohol to guests? The answer may surprise you—yes, you do! Even if you're not selling alcohol but offering it as part of your hospitality, it still falls under the regulations. The law states: Any business or other organisation that sells or supplies alcohol on a permanent basis needs to apply for a premises licence. Anyone who plans to sell or supply alcohol or authorise the sale or supply of alcohol must apply for a personal licence. This means that even though the alcohol you have gifted to your guests may be considered ‘free’, it is in fact supplied as part of a paid stay and therefore does require a license. 

Navigating Alcohol Licensing 

An alcohol license comprises two parts: the premises license and the personal license. The former is for the establishment, while the latter is held by an individual responsible for supervising alcohol sales and supply. Obtaining these licenses involves paperwork, checks, and testing undertaken by the local governing body. While the process may seem daunting, the fees are reasonable, especially for smaller businesses. (£350-400).   

If you're considering applying for an alcohol license, your first step should be contacting your Local Council or Licensing Officer. They'll provide you with your council’s licensing policy, as well as other necessary information and application forms. Keep in mind that both licenses require careful consideration and may take some time to acquire, so planning ahead is crucial. Premises Licence applications require you to submit floor plans of your premises and, just like a planning proposal, require you to advertise your application. Provided there are no major objections this process should take no more than a couple of months. Personal Licenses now last for a lifetime, therefore if you’ve chosen your member of staff carefully, they should only need obtaining once (or you could employ someone who already has a personal license). The applicant will need to submit an application, undergo a DBS check (basic disclosure), and complete a licensing qualification. This qualification will teach them the laws surrounding alcohol sales and their obligations as the licensee. 

Is it Worth Getting an Alcohol License? 

Whether obtaining an alcohol license is worth it depends on your business and clientele. From a gifted bottle left in a self-catered home, to mini bars in hotel rooms, offering alcohol can enhance your guests' experience, especially if you're providing luxury accommodations or hosting special events. However, you'll need to weigh the initial costs against potential benefits and consider alternatives for occasional alcohol service.  

But there are other options. If you’re only planning to host special events sporadically throughout the year, you may want to consider a Temporary Events Notice. These can be acquired up to 5 times a year and would allow you to sell/supply alcohol in an unlicensed premises without a personal license (up to 50 times a year if you do have a personal license holder).

Final Thoughts

While we've provided some insights into alcohol licensing for holiday lets and B&Bs, it's essential to consult with your local council for personalised advice. Each situation is unique, and they can offer guidance tailored to your circumstances. Remember, offering alcohol to your guests can be a delightful addition to their stay, but it's crucial to do so responsibly and in compliance with the law.     


 • Alcohol Licensing - GOV.UK 

 • The Pink Book: Legislation for Tourist Accommodation

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