We’re working with Karen Thorne from the Bed and Breakfast Academy to bring you helpful ideas and advice for your B&B. In her latest blog, Karen advises on several considerations to think about when it comes to creating a memorable breakfast service at your B&B.
As a former B&B owner herself, Karen is enthusiastic about helping hospitality providers to create memorable dining experiences: "For many guests, breakfast is the highlight of their bed and breakfast stay" says Karen, "A well prepared, delicious breakfast can set the tone for their whole visit."
Karen advises that a breakfast experience should be as unique and individual as your business: "Since all bed and breakfast businesses are unique, there isn't a single way to set a B&B breakfast table. The way it's arranged, whether with tablecloths, flowers, or decor, reflects the owner's style and is tailored to the types of guests staying. It could be cosy, rustic, elegant, or modern."
In creating a memorable breakfast, Karen applies the following considerations:
Drawing from her own experience, Karen describes how when she started her B&B she opted for one large table, but soon found that her guests preferred to dine separately: "I encountered enough guests who hated the idea of sharing a breakfast table with strangers." Her solution? She provided a few small tables that could be pushed together for large groups.
Consider your dining area. Is it big enough to hold a few tables, or just one? Take a look at this handy online measurements guide to help you work out if you have enough dining space for your guests to eat comfortably.
When it comes to dressing your tables, Karen recommends experimenting with a range of styles to see what works best over time. Tablecloths or no tablecloths? Fabric napkins or convenient paper napkins? You may find that your decisions are influenced by how sustainable these items are to care for. Tablecloths will need to be washed and this may influence the type of fabric you go for, whether it be luxurious 100% cotton fabric or an easy care, virtually no iron polyester fabric.
For Karen, she eventually settled on small personal touches on her tables: "...I settled on a setup that suited my wooden tables, using local pottery plates, quality paper napkins, and some felted flowers gifted by a guest."
If you are just starting out or unsure what tableware to chose, consider using white tableware as a base, then adding small personal touches around that. White tablecloths and white crockery are an easy way to instantly transform a room in to a clean and professional dining space. Vitrified white crockery is incredibly robust, being strengthened under an intense kiln firing process, and so is perfect for the hardwearing day-to-day requirements of a busy B&B.
Quality cutlery can make a lasting impression. This 18/0 stainless steel Oxford cutlery set is effortless to maintain and it has a wonderful weighted feel which is sure to add finesse to your breakfast service.
With the return of the Breakfast Buffet post COVID, there are many items that can help you present food hygienically and with style. "I found these mini bottles particularly useful for hygienically storing individual portions of milk and juice," Karen writes. Individual portions not only look great, but they are useful for guests who have concerns about contamination, too. Though many guests will love diving into a jar of homemade preserve, for those guests with dairy or wheat allergies, it's a worry to think that other peoples knives may have transferred butter or bread crumbs into the the jam pot. So having individual portions of condiments available as well is a great solution. In short, you can appeal to different guests by offering a range of serving styles at your buffet table.
At Out of Eden you can find a comprehensive range of individual breakfast portions including jams and cereals. There are also these unique jam pot presenters and artisan food presentation baskets which will add a rustic charm to your breakfast buffet.
When you are offering guests chilled items at your buffet station such as yoghurt, cheese or milk, these Staychill Trays will keep the items cool for up to 3 hours, and in so doing makes them more hygienic and saves you time going back and forward to the kitchen. Simply pop the Staychill tray in the freezer the night before and you will have a cool plate available for most of your breakfast service.
Communicating to your guests at a breakfast buffet is easy thanks to these stylish blackboard displays and aluminium tent signs that are perfect for handwritten notes, sentiments and breakfast menu items.
Deciding what, if any, sauces to make available at breakfast and how to display them can be tricky. It's a hot topic amongst B&B providers and Karen weighs-in on the debate: "Just like the never-ending debate over baked beans, and whether they should be in a ramekin or not, the dispute over sauces can spark heated arguments among B&B owners."
Why not try experimenting with sauce presentation to see what works best for you. You could make sauce available on the guest dining table, on the buffet table, present sauces in individual sachets or have them served in tiny serving dishes like these.
Karen served loose leaf tea and cafetiere coffee at her B&B which added to her business' unique selling points. She recommends having a range of sizes of cafetieres to cater for different sized groups. Karen also recommends Stubby Teapots which are "perfect for providing guests with an individual pot of tea. They're generous enough for guests to get a couple of mugs out of them, and come with a removable filter/infuser." When it came to serving tea, Karen always provided an additional pot of hot water "It turned out many guests appreciated it, so I recommend adopting this practice when serving tea."
For a those guests who are craving an espresso or cappuccino, a Nespresso pod machine is always useful to have around. Karen advises to place it in the kitchen or "even the dining room for self service". Check out this pod machine from Out of Eden which is compatible with Nespresso pods while also being competitively priced.
In today's world, there are many ways you can provide breakfast in your B&B, and it doesn't have to be a traditional sit-down meal. "Some B&B owners in the Bed and Breakfast Academy community have found great success by offering various breakfast options beyond the traditional sit-down meal." says Karen, "These alternatives include room-only service, in-room continental breakfasts, or buffet-style offerings."
Rather than recommending one specific style of breakfast over another, Karen points out that it really depends upon your individual business needs "This decision depends on several factors, such as your B&B's location, the demographics and preferences of your guests, and the reasons they have for choosing your establishment."
For more information and guidance, take a look at Karen's online B&B course which you can learn more about here.
For additional insights and advice into the variety of breakfast options, take a look at Karens blog post 'Do You Have to Serve a Cooked Breakfast at a B&B?'
As the founder of Bed and Breakfast Academy, Karen has been providing training and ongoing support to both aspiring and existing B&B owners since 2006. Her training covers everything from starting up and managing, to marketing a successful bed and breakfast. Karen ran her own B&B, Hopton House, a successful bed and breakfast in Shropshire, for 17 years. To contact Karen and to find out more about Bed and Breakfast Academy, check out Karen’s website (www.bandbacademy.co.uk), podcast and blog.