What do people do about feeding guests in the evening?

As a new-ish host, it is an awkward moment I am currently having, as I am not charging enough to feed my guest but they will be back (on a two night stay) before we would start cooking and will feel bad about not offering them to sit down and eat… I feel bad about having to ask this question…

What do other people do?

Do you ask the guest before the stay? Do you charge? Do you just get on with it and hope they dont mind? Does everyone just let the guest use their kitchen to get on with cooking their own dinner?



You shouldn’t have to feel bad about eating dinner in your own home. Your listing should inform guests that they are sharing common areas with you and your family.This means they will see you going about your daily lives. If that bothers them, they should look for a listing that is more private.

You decide (and should make it clear in your listing) whether they can use the kitchen to prepare their own meals. If you are concerned about getting in each others’ way, work out a schedule. Let them know when the kitchen will be available.

Remember that you are the one that sets guest expectations. You get to decide what you are comfortable living with in your own home. Just make sure to communicate that clearly to your guests.

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I agree with Tessa. Do not feel bad about cooking in your own home and you are certainly not obligated to invite them to eat with you.

We offer guests the use of our kitchen but they must tell us when booking if they will want it so we can work around them. (Loads of them don’t let us know in advance even though it is written in my listing at least 3 times). We had one couple act quite put out when we told them that we were having friends over for dinner and since they had not mentioned that they needed the kitchen, they would have to cook earlier than they had planned.(I should have just told them the kitchen was unavailable as they were a pain in the butt, acted very entitled used loads of stuff from our pantry and slammed us on the star ratings) I also politely said that they really needed to read the listing properly.

It is usually not a problem but it can be a pain if we are having friends over or if we are on a schedule and need to eat by a certain time. We aren’t charging enough to include dinner and I really don’t want to get to locked into having to prepare food for guests when half the time I don’t know what we are having until I start cooking!

As we live in quite a small town that relies on the tourist dollar, I encourage them to eat out at our local cafes and restaurants. That way they can see a little of the town too. Many of our guests stay at our place for the night (which is just out of town), pack up and leave the next day without seeing our town at all.

Whatever you decide - it is your house, your rules. Offering dinner may just give them something else to complain about if you are charging them and they don’t like it. So long as the guests know what to expect it should be fine.

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Thank you Tessa1

It seems very obvious, doesn’t it. I just have that urge to offer them stuff as a dutiful host when it comes down to it. However, the budget and really the time to sit down with them every night, is not really there…

I agree. It has to be clearly stated what the rules of use are. I will go over it and make sure my listing is crystal.

I guess, it is the balance between inviting “friends” in to your home and “hosting” them and just people that are paying for nights stay who are not necessarily wanting to be “hosted”… Both need their own space. But there is an element of making sure the guest has what they want/need or adding value to a paying guest. I spent many years in Hospitality which taught me to make sure you offer a guest anything they could ever want, but it wasn’t technically my money back then… :wink:

Thanks for replying.

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Ha! Oh no! Really?? People can be so horrible some times… Managing restaurants for quite some time, I am used to the fickle nature of the customer. And actually the negative attitude / demands / expectations of people is what made me leave the industry. If people dont get what they want, they can be nasty. Even, if what they want is putting someone else out or not that person’s fault…

Like you and Tessa have said, it is all about laying down the rules before the stay and ensuring they understand before they arrive.

Thank you for your advice and comments.


hmm… may be an interesting point. I dont think local councils here have caught up such things… I may be wrong though… I am not aware of such lines in this area of the UK. I will do some digging though.

It is an interesting point about the “free breakfasts”. It makes sense. But something I would definitely not do. I am all about quality of food and could not see myself serving anything like that. Again, it is something I will have to research.

Thank you for the advice. Some digging around is on the cards methinks…

When one stays in a hotel does one expect to have dinner with the desk clerk? No. You are only responsible to provide what you contracted for.

As a new host I’ve found I have to set clear boundaries or I will burn out fast. If you have a hospitable nature as I do you have to be especially careful to set limits!! Otherwise your next post may be full of woe!

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Hi Nick. We don’t allow the guest to use the kitchen. We say “heat and eat only” we offer dinner for a small additional charge. Having said that I am a chef. This is an old post but interesting subject. Also not allowing cooking regulates who books with you. It will deter certain people.

Hi Nick,

Billy_Bob_Merkowitz is correct there are regulations when you start charging guests for meals during their stay in the UK - I have a listing on my website with all the information you need to know about food, hygiene and more http://simplyhospitality.com/good-to-know/.

Providing breakfast as long as you don’t cook anything is fine. If guests do turn up at dinner time, then it is up to you to offer them something, but you can’t charge them for it. Don’t feel obliged to always give them something as it cuts into your margins.

One thing you can do is have a cake or biscuits (homemade if possible) that you can offer them with a cup of tea or coffee - this way you can invite them to sit down and not have to give them a ‘dinner’.

Use of the kitchen is always difficult - I would suggest light use only - ie the microwave or oven ONLY. If you allow your guests full use of facilities in your kitchen and anything was to go wrong you may not be covered under your household/liability insurance.

Hi Simply!

As one who cooked up eggs, sausage, and what-all else when I first started, before getting a clue, I have a question -

Isn’t baking in the category of cooking? After reviewing the guidelines with my local Health Board guy it seems like as long as I don’t cut anything (like slicing fruit), crack an egg, or start with raw anything I’m OK. (I did think about calling myself “Don’t Crack The Egg BnB”). So I warm up frozen potato cakes, fry up pre-cooked sausage, etc.

I love to bake and in my outlaw days (!) did bake muffins for guests that had to leave exceptionally early, so they could take it with them. But I’ve not done so as I thought it would violate the regs.


(To be honest, I DO still peel the hard cooked eggs…)

Hi dcmooney

Yes, in the UK it does come under the category of cooking, and the laws are very different even between councils. Baking is something we do every so often and is more for the house, but if a guest happens to spot it and asks for a piece than we oblige, it is more of a freebie/random act of hospitality rather than a permanent feature that we use as a USP. Fortunately, in all the years we have done this we have had no incidents or problems arise from offering our guests a few home baked goods every now and then.

Re-reading my previous message, I realise I should have clarified this and instead suggested that some form of individually wrapped biscuit, granola bar, mandolins or other sorts of small snack like treats that you can buy off the shelf are a good option to have, just in case you do have guests turn up in the evening.



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