how to start a b&b or a guest house in south africa

A bed and breakfast is a small lodging establishment that offers overnight accommodation and breakfast. Bed and breakfasts are often private family homes, and  The maximum number of guest bedrooms in a B&B is three. (Any application received by the authorities for a B&B establishment with more than three bedrooms is automatically treated as a Guest House.)

A Guest House is a commercial accommodation establishment offering between 4-16 bedrooms, which has as its primary source of business the supply of tourist accommodation. Breakfast and dinner are made available to guests, particularly where dinner is not readily available in the vicinity of the establishment.

Location of your b&b or guest house:

Location is vitally important when running a b&b or a guest house – if you’re not in an area that appeals to holiday-makers or business people, you’re going to struggle to attract regular guests. You must also make sure that there is enough parking in the surrounds to accommodate your guests, and can they park safely and conveniently.

What you need to know 

The hospitality industry is notoriously seasonal, and unless you are lucky enough to attract regular business clientele, you may well need to weather periods of few to no guests and, therefore, no income.

In terms of gross income, a guesthouse with four double rooms, charging R600 per person sharing could generate over R86 000 per month at an occupancy rate of 60%.

  • Is your site quiet enough for people to sleep undisturbed?

    Are the street surrounds neat, well kept and regularly maintained?

Health: Health Regulations must be adhered to. Have you contacted your local council for health regulations and requirements related to eating and catering establishments?

Target market for b&b or guest houses

  • Tourists. The quintessential vacationers, these are the people who are out for a good time.  If you’re close to any sort of natural or man-made attraction that brings people in, you’ve got a great market.
  • Business travelers
  • Romance. Everyone loves a romantic getaway, and the B&B is its epitome.
  • Locals’ extra bedroom. You might think people who already live in your town wouldn’t be interested in your B&B. But you can develop a tidy additional market by promoting yourself to locals as “your extra bedrooms.” Somebody is always having a wedding, family reunion or other event for which they invite lots of out-of-town visitors, and then have nowhere to put them up.


For a Bed & Breakfast

Check with your Local Council on the policy that sets the standads for B&B establishments. Some common standards are:

  • All facilities and breakfast are for the sole use of registered guests, and utilisation of gardens etc. is at the owner’s discretion.
  • A minimum of 50% of lettable rooms is to be maintained for private home use.
  • There should be one parking space per lettable room.
  • Minium facilities for guests should be: a bedroom, access to a bathroom and toilet separate to that of the hosts, a dining room area where breakfast is served.
  • There must be a fire extinguisher in the kitchen, which is regularly tested.
  • Breakfast is the only meal that needs to be served to guests.
  • No kitchen facilities are provided to guests in their rooms.
  • The residential character of the home is to be maintained.

For a Guest House

The above would mostly apply to a guest house as well, with the exception of only serving breakfast, as a Guest House may choose to serve dinner. A Guest House may also wish to serve liquor on the premises, and therefore a liquor licence would be needed.

Ensure that you have consulted your Local authorities on the policy that governs the establishment of a B&B or Guest House in your area. You need to be sure that you are in line with all legislation in terms of licensing, signage, regional planning etc.


Application for and granting of a trade licence:

The Local Council will circulate your application to the relevant Health, Fire and Building Inspectors, to Town planning etc. who will ensure that your business plans for your business comply with their regulations.


Signage for local roads in the Local Municipality areas can be arranged through the Local Tourism Bureau in the Municipality. For signage on National Raods and secondary roads, the Regional Tourism Liaison Committee (RTLC) can be contacted for the processing and issuing of signs. Contact Ms Itumeleng Pooe, The Director: Tourism Regulation, at 021 483 8759, for contact details of the RTLC in your region.


Find out from your Local Council if your Local planning structures allow for your chosen business activity on the site you have selected.

Making a Plan

You need a business plan in order to make your business idea a reality. How to write a business plan

How to fund your business?

You can finance your business by any or all of the following ways:

  1. Fund your startup yourself.
  2. Pitch your needs to friends and family.
  3. Applying for a Business loan
  4. Finding your business through crowdfunding
  5. Apply to local angel investor

Register Your Business Name

Your business name plays a role in almost every aspect of your business, so you want it to be a good one. Once you have chosen a name for your business, you need to register it. Click here for a step by step guide on how to register your business

Insuring your business 

From the day an entrepreneur starts a business, he exposes himself to certain risks, find out how you can insure your business.

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