Starting a bed and breakfast in Europe: Key figures and tips

Dreaming of owning a bed and breakfast in Europe?  Check out these important facts and figures about the reality.


Editor’s Note:  The facts and figures quoted are based on a 2014 research report by Bed and Breakfast Europe.

If you want to start a bed and breakfast in Europe, then success stands or falls by the preparations. While most European countries have opened up their borders and have the euro as their currency, they still have their own language, mentality and culture. The legislation also differs per country. It is crucial that you are well aware of things before opening a B&B in for example France, Germany or Spain. A few key figures and tips.

Let’s start with a few facts from a research report by Bed & Breakfast Europe. The outcomes are based on a research held among 3,704 B&B owners in all of Europe in 2014:

  • An overnight stay with breakfast in a European bed & breakfast costs an average € 77.81,- for two persons.
  • The average turnover of a European B&B-accommodation amounts to about € 16,700,- per year.
  • At least half of the European B&B’s has a turnover of less than € 10,000,- per year.
  • A European bed & breakfast has an average 5.2 guest rooms and 7.6 places to sleep.
  • The B&B-room rates are the highest in Belgium (an average € 92,-) and Great Britain (€ 88,-) and the lowest in Germany (€ 64,-).and Italy (€ 66,-).
  • Shared sanitary provisions are relatively less common: 83% of the guest rooms have a private bathroom.

Check the financial feasibility

Most likely, a B&B in Europe will not make you rich, so check the financial and organisational feasibility of your B&B plans before executing them. If you want to make a living out of your bed & breakfast for two people, you will soon need about six guest rooms. If one of the two partners has a job on the side, then you should think of three to four rooms. Especially northern Europeans attach great value to a beautiful bathroom with decent sanitary, so large investments in the accommodation might be needed.

Think carefully about where you will be establishing your B&B

Those picturesque French, Spanish and Italian villages: who hasn’t fallen in love with them? Before you go head over heels and buy a house, remember that these villages can get pretty deserted when the high season is over. The youngsters move out and especially during winter times, there isn’t much to do. Facilities such as hospitals and schools are often far away. Visit the location that you have in mind during wintertime as well and decide whether you will also be happy there during that season. A bed and breakfast in a popular location has more chance of success. In Rome or Barcelona you can expect more visitors than in a village in the German Ruhr area or the Flemish countryside.

Get to know everything about the national law and regulations in advance
Every European country has its own rules for starting a bed & breakfast. Besides, these rules can differ per region and municipality. Get to know the rules regarding construction permits, fire safety, hygiene, offering meals, serving alcohol, taxes, financing and so on, well in advance. Check with the municipality you wish to move to, as well as with the Chamber of Commerce. Registering with the embassy is an option as well.

Starting a bed and breakfast in Europe: golden tips

  • Make sure you have a multilingual website with information about your bed & breakfast. For example: English, German, French, Spanish, Italian and Dutch. That way you appeal to guests from all of Europe. By the way, in France, a B&B is called ‘chambre d’hôtes’, in Spain ‘casa rural’, in Italy ‘agriturismo’ and the Germans speak of a ‘Gästezimmer’.
  • Mention which languages you speak on your website.
  • Collaborate with the locals. Refer guests to local restaurants for example, and purchase products from local suppliers. Do you have a chore or work to be done, outsource it to a local company. Being a newcomer this will result into a lot of goodwill.
  •  Talk to the locals a lot, and make sure they get to know you. The locals will sooner turn to your B&B when they have family members coming over.
  • Guests highly appreciate an extensive (organic) breakfast with local and homemade products. A good bed of course goes without saying. ​

Bed & Breakfast for Sale

On B&B For Sale you can find a selection of European houses for sale, for example, in Portugal, Spain, Italy and France. All properties for sale on the website are already operational as bed & breakfast, or suitable to start a B&B in.

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To begin your journey of discovery to see if owning a bed and breakfast is right for you, download “3 Questions Everyone Who Wants to Own a Bed and Breakfast – or Should!”

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This is a guest post by, the largest Bed and Breakfast site worldwide with as much as 2.2 million rooms and apartments worldwide.  It fulfills a promotional role for bed & breakfast owners worldwide by maintaining ties with governments, bed & breakfast organizations, strategic market partners, the international media and thousands of B&B owners.


  1. Hassan sharieff

    dear b &b we would like to have this business in Copenhagen and we are currently holding same business in Quito Ecuador South america.

  2. Jenny


    I have searched all over the web to find immigration information for France. I’m an American citizen and my husband is South African. We met in Ireland, but obviously, neither of us have an EU passport. Our goal is to move to France and buy a gite, but we want it to be a permanent move. Does anyone have a link to French immigration rules and regulations around being permanently allowed to settle in the country if you own a B&B business? I’m not sure why this information is so elusive. 🙂

    1. Susan Poole Post author


      A visit to the French Embassy may be in order to get the correct information.


    2. Tom

      Hi Jenny,
      it is pretty much the sam ein all EU countries, here is a link for you to visit and evaluate both your options :
      This should give you an idea of what you need for a permanent move to the EU. Once you have the permanent residental status of any of the EU member countries you are free to relocate to any of them, you are not limited to the country you applied for in the first place.
      In fact we are working on a B and B project on the island of Gozo, which is part of Malta…

  3. Theo

    I’m looking for costs per guests to estimate monthly costs. so things like, cleaning, bedsheets, electricity, etc.

    1. Susan Poole Post author


      Unfortunately, you will have to roll up your sleeves and do the research yourself as the costs will vary by location – there is no fixed cost that I am aware of.


  4. Ana

    I would like to know if in Belgium the owner of a B&B is supposed to be in-house or this is not required.
    I know that in Italy this is a requirement and I would like to find out.

    1. Susan Poole Post author

      Hi Ana:

      You will need to check directly with the authorities in Belguim – I don’t have access to that type of information.


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