Charging for special goodies

I have a nice bar area and would like to offer drinks, comparable to a hotel’s minibar. Does anyone have experience and recommendations on how to charge for used drinks? Sould I indicate the cost on each bottle and trust that people put funds into a payment box, or could I take a deposit and charge used items against that deposited after chekout?

How is your insurance if you supply alcohol to your guests and they do damage while drunk. Cold tea is the same colour as whisky!

Insurance AND the local licensing laws?

You could try an “honor bar” I have seen those in hotels before. Are you thinking little shooters like on a plane? Or full size liquor bottles? Would be a nice amenity.

I was thinking about little shooters like in most hotel minibars or airplanes.

I would try it with a price list and box for money. Might be good to list like a Venmo account in the price list for those without cash. See how much theft you have after a few months. If too much may need to rethink.


Just one pissed off guest reporting you to authorities and you could be out of business. As a guest I’d love to have $3 beers in my Airbnb that would cost $6 at the tavern. But as a host I wouldn’t risk it. I’ve given a few beerswine/cocktails to guests who sat with me while we visited but I wouldn’t sell them because it’s a violation of the law. Probably everywhere.

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I would not sell alcohol, if you are in USA. I have a friend who serves complementary brunch on Sunday in NY and he offers Bellinis with no extra charge but he urges his guests not to mention it in the reviews. he gets many guests to come back or to send other guests etc.
I once was a guest in west virgina airbnb where the host was actually a police officer, from the customs, the ICE, I think it it’s called. he had put wine in the room. he said since he started it everyone gives him 5 star reviews. We didn’t drink it because we didn’t like the brand, but the host invited us downstairs and offered some beer. we had actually brought beer from our state so we gave him that. It was all very civilized and pleasant. we like dry wine, this was like middle of the road, like the ones in airplanes. but i like the ideas and i might implement it in my own house. however i think you could sell baked goods. if your wife makes muffins or breakfast pastries those could be sold and I’ve seen people doing it.

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I see, thanks for the info; I think I will sadly stay away from alcohol. Do you think I can offer other things on a similar basis, like Nespresso pods or yoghurts and other breakfast items in the fridge? I have seen this in Berlin, is this being done in the US?

What is your objective in doing so? @GeorgHoffstaetter Are you thinking about this from a revenue stream point of view?

If you want to charge for breakfast, just put it in your listing as a chargeable extra.

I would not worry about it, do you think the hotels liquor license extends to the rooms? Probably not. Who is going to turn you in, and to whom? I guess someone could call the local police but I just do not see that happening. If they call the ABC board do they really have the resources to open up an investigation into something so small time? Again I doubt it. My STR insurance covers alcohol so I am free to leave a bottle of wine, and before I had the STR insurance I did it anyway for birthdays and whatnot if I knew about it. Maybe I am just more tolerant of risk then some.



I saw a listing very near to mine where one of the listing photos showed the refrigerator with the door open and a variety of beers plus a neatly handwritten sign that listed the prices told the guest to put money in a drawer in the kitchen. I thought it was a neat idea, but it’s not legal as far as I can tell.


My objective is simply to give the guests a good experience. I did not intend to make money from the sales.

We have a reasonably stocked bar cabinet with a note describing it as an “Honor” bar. No listed prices and it seems our guests appreciate it and are very generous with their “Honors”. We also leave 2 large bottles of beer and an assortment of soft drinks and small fruit juices in the fridge at no cost to guests. Consumption of the freebies has been moderate and the same bottles of beer have survived through 4 couples. Our location is such that legal issues are non existent.

Generally speaking I’d say you’re correct, it isn’t legal in most countries, or least those countries who have a licencing procedure in place to sell alcohol.

That said, I suspect the only time a problem is likely to arise is when there is a guest complaint and they mentioned the sale of alcohol in the complaint.

It’s not something we would consider, although we do put a bottle of wine, a couple of beers and some fruit juice in the fridge for those that we consider good (good as in expensive!) bookings, e.g. seven days in high season or bookings during feria. Only costs a few euros and is often appreciated.

It has a downside though. We checked in a couple last night at around 20:30 who insisted we join them for a glass of wine, which led to more than one glass :wine_glass::wine_glass::wine_glass: very enjoyable evening was had by all.


I operate an honour bar and it has so far worked well. I purchased a mini fridge and stocked it with cans of beer/lager/cider along with a couple of bottles of wine with bottles of red on the shelf next to it.

I make it clear both in the house guidelines which are in each room and on the front of the fridge that guests are welcome to help themselves and either go to the shop the next day and replace what they have consumed or else leave a contribution in a jar on top of the fridge and I will replace myself. Being in the UK we need a license to actually sell alchohol but this circumvents the law as I am not setting any prices or selling alcohol, guests are simply helping themselves to my own ‘personal’ stocks and replacing what they consume.

To date it has worked well and has always been ‘in profit’ by a few cans and a bottle of wine including the little contributions pot getting fuller. No-one has tried to rip it off (yet).

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I wonder if someone could circumvent the 90 day rule in London the same way. Just have an honor jar to cover for laundry and tell them if they use the linens to just replace them with new ones or pay for you to do it. Then London hosts wouldn’t be short term renting their flats but just running a laundry service. Where’s that host who asked about VPNs?


I like this approach, thanks for the idea: replacement or donations for used goods. Is this legal in the US. Do I have to lock away alcohol when someone in the guest group is under age?

May be worthwhile having a read through the Licencing Act 2003 :wink: The replacing of anything used is probably fine, but by leaving cash it could be argued that a retail sale has taken place.


This is regulated at a state/local level, not federally, so there is no blanket response for all of the US. You should check your local laws. We don’t know enough about your location or property size to give you a factual response.

For example, Michigan treats my home share as a Bed & Breakfast <8 rooms and allows me to serve food so long as its included in the nightly rate. If I had >8 rooms I’d need a license from the County health dept. Some states don’t allow food at all (NY?), while others might require different licensing.

I wouldn’t leave alcohol with an underage group (unless parents were present) - it sounds too much like furnishing alcohol to a minor.

I am not a lawyer :wink: