Advice for hotels and bed and breakfasts

Here you can find information for hotels, guest houses and the bed and breakfast trade.

Bite-size guides

We have a range of bite-size guides available to purchase, enabling you to get your business idea off the ground. These include:

Please use the links below for more information.


Advertising materials including:

  • adverts,
  • leaflets,
  • brochures and
  • websites

are regulated by many different bodies. However the general principle is that advertising should be:

  • 'legal,
  • decent,
  • honest
  • and truthful',
  • and not calculated to give a misleading impression.

Some of the common problems to be aware of are -

  • Misleading customers in relation to the facilities available. For example, if only some of your rooms are en-suite or have a sea view, this must be clear in any advertising, i.e. "en-suite and sea views available, please ask about availability at the time of booking".
  • Statements about the availability of services or facilities. For example, if windsurfing lessons are only available during part of the season then this must be made clear in any advertising which mentions these lessons.
  • Statements regarding distance/time taken to get to attractions. These must be also accurate and realistic. It is not appropriate to give customers the impression that it is quick and easy to get to attractions if at the height of the season this is generally not the case.
  • Blanket statements such as "suitable for disabled guests". These should be avoided; it is better to give details of the facilities available as clients may have a variety of needs, some of which you may not be able to meet.
  • Misleading photographs of buildings or rooms. Any photographs used in your advertising should reflect the current state and standard of the property and the rooms available.
  • Premises which were members of approval schemes but have decided to withdraw from them. You must remove all reference to this previous approval from your premises, paperwork and advertising material.

Please check your advertising material on a regular basis. If something has changed which makes your advertising inaccurate, then amend it and advise all affected customers who have already booked. You should be aware that if a customer relied on misleading information or a misrepresentation given in your advert, then that customer may be able to claim damages against you and/or cancel the contract.

Important: Please check your advertising material on a regular basis to ensure it is accurate.

This is a brief guide to the legislation. Should you require more detailed advice please contact us on 0300 1234 191 or at We are happy to give an opinion on any of your advertising.

Food Descriptions

Consumer legislation requires that the:

  • labelling,
  • advertising
  • and presentation of food,

and the information made available about it through whatever medium, should not mislead a purchaser to  a material degree, particularly as to the characteristics of the food with regard to its:

  • nature,
  • identity,
  • properties,
  • composition,
  • method of manufacture or production.

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has issued guidelines on various terms commonly associated with food advertising. For example the terms:

  • 'fresh', should only be used where it has a clear, unambiguous meaning and is now used generically to indicate that fruit and vegetables have not been processed;
  • 'pure', should only be used to describe single ingredient foods and free from GM contamination;
  • 'home-made', should be confined to the preparation of food on the premises from primary ingredients, i.e. homemade soup doesn't come from a tin!

When applying any description to food, have regard to the description applied by the:

  • manufacturer
  • or supplier,

either on a label or in trade documents provided no later than when the food is supplied to you. For example pre-packed food is required to be labelled with its true name i.e. a name and/or description that accurately describe the food. This should be located in the same field of view as the best before/use by date and the quantity marking. Therefore, although the packet is labelled Scampi it may also have a true description Reformed Scampi located elsewhere on the packaging. As caterers you must use the true name in your menu descriptions.

Genetically Modified Foods

Caterers must be able to tell their customers which foods, if any, contain genetically modified soya or maize.

If food or food ingredients contain or are produced from genetically modified organisms (usually derived from maize or soya), each menu (including :

  • takeaway menus
  • and temporary
  • or "specials" menus such as chalk board menus)

must indicate one of the following statements, depending on which is appropriate to the particular food in question:

  • "genetically modified"; or
  • "produced from genetically modified (name of organism)" for example, "bread produced from genetically modified maize."

This information must accompany the food item and must also identify if the food has been cooked in genetically modified matter, e.g. "cooked in oil produced from genetically modified soya".

As an alternative, the menu may state the product followed by the letters "GM", but this indication must have an explanation on the menu that sufficiently explains the meaning. This is similar to the "V" symbol for vegetarian food, but must indicate the GM ingredient and, when appropriate, its use, e.g. "contains vegetable oil produced from genetically modified soya", or "cooked in vegetable oil produced from genetically modified soya".


The following examples would be acceptable:


Prawn Cocktail £3.90
(mayonnaise contains vegetable oil produced from genetically modified soya)

Main Courses

Scampi and Chips GM £5.95

GM: contains vegetable oil produced from genetically modified soya

The words "GM free" can be used but the use is discouraged as, analytically, it is possible to detect minute traces of:

  • GM organisms.
  • Additives,
  • flavourings
  • and extractions

that are used, may contain such organisms.

The only exemption to this are foods that have been accidentally contaminated or where genetically modified constituents are unavoidably present at low levels (no more than 0.9% in both cases).

Food allergens

Always be mindful of any food allergy that your guest advises you of. In theory, any food can cause a food allergy, but in fact just a handful of foods are to blame for allergic reactions. Common in children, are:

  • milk,
  • nuts,
  • eggs,
  • soya
  • and wheat

and in adults,

  • nuts,
  • fish,
  • shellfish,
  • citrus fruit
  • and wheat.

We recommend that you:

  • ensure your staff are sufficiently informed to answer customer enquiries relating to the food you supply, or are aware of a staff member who can inform the customer;
  • have a procedure for keeping staff informed and updated with information about which foods contain genetically modified material or possible allergens; and
  • Inform appropriate staff which guest has notified you of a particular allergy.

Breaking from bulk

It may be found necessary on occasions to break containers down for ease of storage. When ever this is done ensure that individual packs or portions can be readily identified by name and date stored or when they should be used by.

Remember: it is the responsibility of caterers to find out from their suppliers which foods contain genetically modified soya or maize and that descriptions applied to foods in menus are correct. It is recommended that you always get written confirmation of genetically modified foods from your supplier and retain all relevant labelling information for a reasonable time, even if you discard bulky packaging, in case of any queries.

This is a brief guide to the legislation. Should you require more detailed advice please contact us on 0300 1234 191 or at .

Bite-sized guides

We have a range of bite-sized guides available to buy, enabling you to get your business idea off the ground. This includes flavoured cooking oils

Do these regulations apply to me?

Yes, if the 'package' you are offering includes an overnight stay or an activity which lasts more than 24 hours and includes at least two of the following:

  • accommodation
  • transport
  • tourism services (such as guided tours, themed holidays, sporting holidays, etc.) where such services form a significant part the package.


if the 'package' is pre-arranged, i.e. you put together two of the above elements before the contract is made and sell them at an inclusive price (even if the separate elements are invoiced individually).

No, if you are arranging a 'package' for educational, business or conference purposes.

How does this affect me?

The regulations may affect various aspects of your business including the form in which information is provided to customers, contracts you have with them, the manner in which price changes are handled and what you must do when customers change their minds or want to cancel their holiday as a result of you making a significant alteration to the package. They also require you to ensure that holidays are covered by suitable insolvency protection.

What you need to know

The regulations give rights to consumers, but also create criminal offences. Examples include providing misleading or inadequate information in brochures and not providing customers with key information about the package, or not having insolvent protection in place.

A full list of the responsibilities placed on your business is set out in a Department for Business Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (BERR) guide called "Looking into the Package Travel Regulations". Copies can be obtained by calling 020 7215 0328. Information is also available on the website.

This is a brief guide to the legislation. Should you require more detailed advice please contact us on 0300 1234 191 or at .

While guests are in your premises you owe them a legal duty of care. Although many regulations do not apply to items supplied in the course of providing accommodation, in the interest of the safety of your guests, and to avoid any civil claims if injuries were sustained, it would be advisable to take note of the following when entertaining children.

Safety of bunk beds

A number of accidents have occurred when young children have fallen through the gaps in the restraining bars of bunk beds, trapping their heads and causing serious injury or death. To avoid this please ensure that gaps in the base or sleeping surface (base of bed not including mattress or upholstery) are not more than 75mm (2.5 inches). All other gaps in the structure must not be less than 60mm (2 inches) and not more than 75mm (2.5 inches).

Where there is an opening in the side of the bunk to allow access, this gap must be at least 300mm (12 inches).

Safety of high chairs

It is advisable to regularly check your high chair to ensure it is stable to minimise the risk of an accident. It is also worth ensuring that a child can be safely secured in the chair by means of a harness which will prevents him/her from slipping out of it.

Glass in furniture

British Standard BS 7376:2004 lays down requirements for the strength, thickness, heat treatment and installation of glass when used in furniture to ensure that the furniture can be used safely for its intended purpose. New furniture purchased after 1990 should comply. However if you have replaced any glass in furniture or are not sure of the age of the furniture and have concerns about its safety, please contact us for further advice.

This is a brief guide to the legislation. Should you require more detailed advice please contact us on 0300 1234 191 or at


If you sell

  • whisky,
  • gin,
  • vodka
  • or rum,

these spirits must be sold in multiples of either 25ml or 35ml. It is not permitted to mix 25ml and 35ml measures on the same premises. You will need to display a notice indicating which quantity you intend to serve and ensure that you do not mix 35ml measures with, for example, double measures of 50ml on the same premises. If you are mixing three or more liquids, for example in cocktails, these do not have to be in specified amounts.

Verified stamped equipment must be used. You may either use measures, attached to bottles "optic style" or thimble measures. If thimble measures are used then the measurement needs to be carried out in the unobstructed view of the customer. Likewise, the complete measuring chamber of spirit measures attached to bottles should be visible to customers, so please ensure that any branding or pricing information does not cover this chamber.

There is no legal requirement to sell other spirits by measure. It may be helpful to your customers and your own stock control to know what quantity you intend to sell them in.

Draught Beer, Lager and Cider

These should be dispensed and served in crown stamped or CE marked glasses in quantities of:

  • 1/3 pint,
  • 2/3 pint,
  • 1/2 pint
  • or multiples of 1/2 pint 

unless crown stamped or CE marked beer meters are used.

Either of these stamps can be used on a glass to ensure it can hold a pint:

Wine by the Glass / Carafe

Wine by the glass must be sold in multiples of either 125ml or 175ml. A small (125ml) wine measure must be available and advertised.

Fortified wine, when sold by the glass, must be sold in 50ml or 70ml quantities or a multiple of either.

Wine by the carafe can be sold in quantities of 250ml, 500ml, 750 ml, 1 litre or multiples of 1 litre.

Wine may either be served in stamped verified lined glasses or carafes, or stamped verified thimbles or "optic" style measuring equipment may be used with any type of serving glass. Once again any measuring needs to be carried out in full view of the customer.

A notice is required which indicates the quantity of wine which is dispensed on the premises.

This is a brief guide to the legislation. Should you require more detailed advice please contact us on 0300 1234 191 or at

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