Breakfast, do you serve it or not?

Breakfast, do you serve it or not?

I worked in a small, four bedroom specialty B&B. Prices were around $140 a night and included a gourmet breakfast. When I opened my own home up to AirBnB guests three years ago, I thought long and hard about whether or not to serve breakfast. Note: I rent out only one large guestroom for 2-3 people.
At the regular B&B our employer did not allow standard European type breakfast. Like the UK, eggs and toast, + cereal options. Or American style Eggs, sausage, toast. Nope, orders were to make gourmet breakfasts and never repeat the same on in a week. So we worked often out of cookbooks to keep variety. The experience of staying there in an old Light House on the Shore with 1900 decor and a big breakfast was the draw.
When I left for other work and to open my I bedroom Air BnB I had to decide on breakfasts.
What have you other small operators done about breakfasts?
pros: It gives a meal to guests, it makes them feel waited on, it adds value, it gives you time to interact with guests,
cons: It opens you up to local laws about food service, it ties the guests down to a certain time they have to be there, how do you know what they will and won’t like, much more work, possible unhappy guests who don’t like the food.
How did you all decide?
I attract many hikers, bikers, campers and others in this small town Lake Shore town, with wilderness shoreline and federal wilderness inland. If you say folks must eat at 9:00 AM or 8:00AM you prevent them from getting an early start on touring. You make them wait around while you cook. And people have vastly different and very picky tastes nowadays. You can’t just feed them eggs and sausage with toast. You would almost need to cook to order, which I hate! I am no restaurant.
Those who have small 1-2 room B&Bs, do you serve breakfast, tell me how it works out for you. I have thought of offering breakfast as an option. But want to hear from you hosts about your experiences!

Hi 69jamescole,

I do offer breakfast, but I don’t cook it each morning. I bake English muffins, bran muffins with fruit, corn muffins and poppy seed muffins with fruit and put them all in the freezer (labelled with what they are and the date they were baked). When we show the house to guests, I show them the muffins and the butter. We also have oat meal and eggs on hand which I tell them that they are free to cook for themselves. We also have cold cereal on hand as a lot of guest leave some behind. I drink coffee in the morning and I offer to make extra for guests. This system works for us as neither we nor the guests are tied to a specific breakfast time, but they have something to eat in the morning. A lot of guests have mentioned that they like the muffins in their reviews.

After first week whr I offered breakfast I inderstood that it’s a very bad idea for me at least.
I have no time to cook and no desire. I hardly cook for myself. But that’s was not even that big of an issue , I told guests where produce is and what they can use.
I had 2 tall young guys that week. Food was disappearing with a high speed. My trips to Publix were everyday chore: bread was gone, next day they went through a jar of jam and so on. Of course if I kept doing it I would get a hang of it but I the way they ate it was really a big expense for me for the price I gave them . Of course when they opened fridge which I told them to do and we were not home , the guys went for cheese, expensive spreads, my special juice that I buy for my anemia.
So for me ; help yourself with your breakfast definitely didn’t work.
Now I only offer coffee and tea. But I am surprised that no one ever wants it. Even if I ask they say no. We have Starbucks 2 min.walk away and very cheap and good breakfast place next to it. Guest usually ask where to eat around here and go there.
It’s so much less hassle without offering breakfast. I would rather offer a better price got rooms


I understand Yana, it is very dangerous to offer a free hand to take some food if they want it. I do get coffee brewer set to make a full pot, and tell guests to turn it on in the morning if they want fresh coffee. I put out clean cups and tell them creamer is in fridge. People like this very much!
Though I am a man, I do actually bake, mostly sweet breads and sweet rolls. I have thought of doing just what EllenN does! I already put my fresh rolls into freezer bags and label them, I could tell guests to have some if they like. My problem is, I like my own baking so much, I don’t want to share. I bake once a week about 10 lemon rolls or a new orange flavor roll I invented.
If you offer food, I have noted that some guest will just take it all, like the two guys did to you Yana. Being NICE, is not always good!

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I want to be always nice but not stupid. :smile:
And that what exactly happened with this guys. I am not home,how can I control their food intake, it’s impossible. I told them specifically what they can have. Mostly they ate just that and sometimes they digged into my other food.

But the quantity!!! They went through gallon of orange juice everyday. They did not only had it for breakfast but whenever they were home. They took it to their room and then broke glasses.
I really think it’s not a good idea to do something you already resentful of doing.
It’s not good for you or guests. Happy host= happy guest.
Everytime out of goodness of my heart when I have an urge to offer a drive here and there , or some thing that a guest asks but I clearly state in my rules the opposite, I ask myself do I really want to do it?
In my experience it rarely appreciated.
If you don’t want to have breakfast available then don’t, don’t force yourself.
You will not get less listings.
I am hosting since March, but travel with Airbnb for 5 years. Breakfast is never for me a main point when I book. I would rather get up early and sit somewhere in caffe and do people watching .

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For the most part you answered your own question I think. I recommend not formally offering breakfast, as it suddenly changes everything, and you have to abide by local food service regulations, etc. Being informal about it is a whole different ballgame, which is how I handle it. As others do, I have a server set up in the dinette and kitchen counter where guests can help themselves to hot water, tea, instant coffee, espresso (my European guests love that I have an espresso machine), and a container with bread. Since I work during the week, preparing daily breakfast is out of the question. However, sometimes on weekends, if my partner and i are home and we cook breakfast for ourselves, we always make a little extra and invite our guests to join us if we see them. It’s a great opportunity to socialize and give them a little something unexpected. A few folks have mentioned this in the reviews, which i appreciate, but it also makes me apprehensive as now future guests may expect breakfast.

Bottom line: do not advertise breakfast included whatever you do. If you feel like offering something informally it will exceed guests’ expectations and make them happy. If you formally offer breakfast, then trust me…all of a sudden it will become /Oh, do you have vegetarian options?’…or, ‘I need something gluten free’…or ‘where’s the havarti cheese?’ You will be screwing yourself out of a good review.


Yes, very true.
One girl asked me if I have loose leaf tea. I have it but that’s not what I offer. I buy it for myself and it’s expensive . I have about 10 different boxes with all kind of tea bags for guest, but no, she wanted mine:).
I also read here once that a host offered food as a compliment ( her listing doesn’t include breakfast) and a guest crtisized her for not offering more varieties.


It’s really too bad those two young guys took “help yourself” literally. Sounds like they were on a budget and packed 10 jam sandwiches to munch on during the day. But to go through your personal nice food items was just plain disrespectful.

I have a box of creamers and herbal teas, and several packets of coffee for the drip maker. I now only put out 8 herbal teas, and 12 or 16 creamers…can’t remember exactly. It’s just a gesture as many house rentals don’t offer any of that. And the grocery store is right down the street. Some guests don’t use any of it. But I had recent guests go through a new box of herbal tea (they left one packet) and also over half of the individual creamer box. So now I limit it - always has to be a hog that makes you change things.

True, do Airbnb and learn:)

We still joke about these 2 guys. Most of young guests are on a budget. I think most people who rent rooms are on a budget, why else would they just not go to a hotel. Once I got up earlier than ussual ( they were leaving house ussualy around 7, and I saw the kitchen counter top was covered with food. It looked like Japanese buffet. I think everything was taking out of fridge. And the feast began.
I just smiled, it was too late for me to say anything, it was their last day. But I went upstairs and told my husband that I wish I could have my phone with me so I could make a picture of that table.
I don’t think I made any money whatsoever that week. It was my first week hosting and besides my low rate I gave them 40$ discount for a week.
And that was it with breakfast.
The funny part they reserved a week somewhere else, but called us a day later asking to come back. I think they like breakfast buffet In a morning a lot.



How do you present your container of bread? What kind of bread? I also do not advertise “breakfast” but I was thinking about purchasing Sam’s Club Oregon Trail Raisin bread and providing a half stick of butter. The reviews on this bread are excellent and it freezes well. I haven’t tried it yet. I don’t mind providing an extra that costs a few bucks but also goes a looong way with being appreciated. I usually have a container of granola bars or cereal bars that are next to the coffee. But I always buy those at the discount grocery store because they are already expired or soon to be expired. Don’t get me wrong - nothing with the taste of the bars but I am way too frugal to purchase “extras” at full grocery store rates. The bars are not stale.

I will never present guests with a welcome basket and a full bottle of wine. I just feel like I am thanking them ahead of time without them proving they will take care of the place.

We use a marble cheese plater with a cover (which doubles as kind of a cake server) and just keep the bread in there, so it looks nice and keeps for a few days. We live in Southern California, so having Mexican sweet bread available (which is easy to get around here and cheap) is kind of a cool way to give them a taste of our local culture. e have a favorite bakery down the street where we go when we have time…and when we don’t have time, we just pick some up at the corner market. Some guests gobble it up…others don’t touch it. But, they have all appreciated that there are things to nibble on to tide them over until the get to their next meal or after a day of hiking or walking up and down Hollywood Blvd.

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My profile is clear that breakfast is self service. I place a large basket of muffins, snacks, cookies, fruit, and breakfast bars in the room. I also have cereal, eggs, bread and bacon available if guests want to cook. For the most part my guests don’t avail themselves of my breakfast offerings. This being said, on the weekend when I’m home and cooking for myself I always make a big breakfast for guests. It’s one of the biggest positives on my reviews. I’m already cooking for myself so I don’t mind the addition and guests REALLY love it! I haven’t had any negative for not cooking when I’m working. I always let guests know that I don’t cook on work days since I’m out of the house by 7 am.

Hi 69james

I opened my little business on a whim and was shocked to be checking in a young french couple the next evening.I hadn’t decided about breakfast, but I love to feed people, and feed them I did! And everyone after! I loved thinking of new foods to serve different nationalities to see who would eat what. The lovely couple from Poland polished off the pickles…the two young ladies from Korea appreciated the dried seaweed I had on hand very much - My guests absolutely raved about it.

When I realized I needed to get legit and follow the rules, I made inquiries and found out I’m not allowed to crack an egg. I can hard-cook the eggs but can not peel it. I can serve baked goods that were prepared in a commercial kitchen - but to cook myself I need a commercial kitchen that is separate from my own kitchen.

Something that is awesome is croissants from Costco (.50 each) warmed in the oven for 5 minutes - in a nice basket with a napkin - a little jam, some fresh fruit - who could ask for more? I can also put out cheeses, etc. I just can’t cook anything. I’m thinking frozen hash browned patties warmed in the oven is obeying the spirit of the law, too.

But just fyi, for those who do prepare hard-cooked eggs, I think I have found THE secret - set the eggs out on the counter overnight. Put in water and bring to a boil. Shut off, cover, let sit for 8 minutes. The shell slides off smiling.

I was thinking about changing the name of my place from ‘Comfy Cozy’ to “Don’t Crack an Egg”.


My two first guests could ask for more, lol.
If it was just croissant with jam they had for breakfast I may be would still offer breakfast. They each had 4 eggs for breakfast every day. it was a loaf of bread almost every day. My husband was joking that they are still growing., that’s why the appetite.
Once my husband went to the store that’s sells food from our home country and bought several home made spreads. He offered them to try and they desided that they can just have them for breakfast. So , next morning an 8$ spread was gone.,
Since I couldn’t come up with the idea on how to limit someone’s food portions, and I can not stay home to serve them, I just desided not to do it at all.


Cheers, James,

A resounding NO!!!

Serving breakfast just encourages guest pickiness, and adds costs and time for the host. With very little payback.
I got some comments about no coffee so I tried an experiment.

When I started serving coffee, I got complaints that it wasn’t Kona coffee. When I left bagels, I got complaints that they weren’t gluten free. When I left fresh papaya, I was asked if it was organic and GMO-free.

SO NO, JUST NO… Get your own damned breakfast! Hahaha.

I’ve got great reviews and plenty of guest love even without breakfast!

That said, James, your breakfasts in the UK sound crackin good though and I would love to try one of them, LOL!


I “do” breakfast which is teas, coffee, orange juice, madeleines and also a local french pastry. If a guest has a special request I’ll try to honour that and provide it. This has lead to:

  • people helping themselves to the food throughout the day
  • drinking 7 coffees (I have a nespresso) in one day for one person
  • asking for bread and jam which I then bought, but not touching it

I like most of my guests but some people are just such a nuisance.



I have to wonder if the Nespresso person really drank all of those or just took most of the little pods as a souvenir. Those little pods are expensive too!

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A Small Guest Fridge Can Save the Day – I offer a self-serve breakfast of yogurt, cereal + milk, hard cooked eggs, and fruit (apples, bananas, and oranges – which are from my own tree). Also coffee, tea (bags) hot coco (mix) and pastries (croissants and sweet rolls) from the bakery around the corner. The best thing I did was get a counter height small refrigerator just for guests (it sits on the floor at the end of my kitchen and provides another counter top). I had to juggle things a slight bit in the kitchen, but this investment of about US$200 has been a real stress reliever – no more guests pawing through my own refrigerator. Guests are instructed that they have access to the guest fridge only. And even when filled with bottled waters and the breakfast items, there is room for them to leave food items of their own. I rent 2 or 3 rooms in my house and this guest fridge has saved my sanity of always trying to figure out what’s in my own fridge and whose food is whose or who ate what. Now is the right time of year to find these small fridges on sale because of back to school specials (I got mine last year during the back to school sales).

My listing states that I offer continental breakfast items. I have coffee and tea, usually some fruit and bread/bagels. There is always cold breakfast cereal, steel cut oats in winter. Sometimes yogurt. Now that I am retired I may experiment with making homemade muffins or breakfast tacos. I’ve never offered dinner but I have offered beer or wine with guests who wanted to sit and chat with me (and I with them, LOL). My approach to airbnb and my dog boarding is to treat others the way I want to be treated. I treat guests as friends if friendly. If they want to go in the room and not be bothered that’s great as well. I gave the German girls here a styrofoam ice chest and re-freezeable ice packs. I encourage guests to refill their water bottles from my filtered water dispenser. One couple brought in an ice chest with a case of empty water bottles. At first I was taken aback but then I thought…those 2 gallons of water they took cost me fifty cents. The bottles that were reused are good for the environment. Many guests don’t even taken any breakfast so when someone takes what I might think is more than their share it evens out. I am home most of the time when guests are here but even when I had to leave to go to work no one has taken advantage.

My heritage is Swedish, though I am American. I make frequent visits to Sweden to family and friends. I am a huge fan of a Swedish breakfast, and if I ever do give breakfast in my AirBnB it will be Swedish. You make coffee, you put out 2-4 kinds of bread, and 2-3 kinds of cheese, some sliced meats like thin ham or such, also a hard cooked egg can be added. What you do is make your own sandwich to eat with your coffee. Picking bread and cheese is fun, you make what you want. A real Swedish open faced Smörgås. It is easy to put out, and easy to put back in the fridge for the next day. No real cooking involved, so no dirty pots and pans. I really believe this Swedish frukost, can not be beat. Being in America though, the cheese would cost a lot, and good bread, that is not cheap or easy to find either.

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