Category Archives: News


How to secure an alcohol licence for hotels – key questions hotel owners ask

If you own a B&B or a hotel, then it may be worthwhile offering your guests the chance to buy alcohol. If you intend to sell alcohol, or to offer it on a permanent basis in your premises, then you’ll need to apply for an alcohol licence for hotels.

However, unless you’ve done this before, it can be a bit of a minefield.

Here are some of the key questions asked by hotel owners considering selling alcohol:

Does everyone need a licence if they plan to supply alcohol?

If you are a business or organisation wishing to sell or supply alcohol on a permanent basis, you’ll need to apply for a premises alcohol licence for hotels.

Even if you are hosting a wedding or a party and want to sell or supply alcohol for a one-off event, you’ll still need a licence.

How do you apply for a licence?

You’ll need to complete an application form and send that, together with the fee, to your local council. You can find the right licence for your event using the government’s licence finder here.

How much does an alcohol licence cost?

Alcohol licence fees are set by the Licensing Act 2003. The costs are tiered based on the amount of alcohol you expect to sell or supply, and your primary business purpose. At the time of writing, the lowest level starts at £100 for a new application, and £70 for renewal, increasing to total fees of thousands for new licences at premises primarily designed to sell alcohol.

Does someone on site need to be licensed too?

Yes, you’ll need at least one person to be  a Designated Premises Supervisor (DPS) and they’ll need to hold a personal licence. A personal licence requires a separate application by an individual who must be 18 years or over, and hold an accredited qualification. The full list of permitted qualifications can be found here.

Can I choose where to buy my alcohol?

Once you’ve secured your personal licence and an alcohol licence for premises, you’ll need to buy the alcohol. This should be purchased from a registered wholesaler. If you buy alcohol from someone who isn’t licensed you risk a fine, or worse, imprisonment.

What does a designated premises supervisor do?

A DPS is responsible for the day to day running of the business. They don’t need to be on site at all times, but they will be the first point of contact for the police and local government. Therefore, they will require a sound understanding of the potential social impact of alcohol sales and consumption.

Can there be more than one DPS?

There’s no need to have more than one Designated Premises Supervisor in your hotel or B&B, but the good news is, that if you do have more than one hotel or B&B, the DPS can be the appointed representative for all premises.

Of course, not all premises have the space for a bar area, or even a reception area where drinks can be served. If you’d like to raise finance to give your business that extra option, contact our hospitality finance specialists on 01488 393040.



Why Torquay B&B is a popular option among tourists

If you’re thinking about setting up a B&B, the area you choose is an important part of the decision making process. It’s no wonder Torquay is such as popular place for B&Bs and boutique hotels.

Nicknamed the English Riviera, Torquay has cliffs to clamber over, a seafront to stroll down, beaches to bask on and a marina to mooch around.

In fact, as far as an area for a boutique hotel or a B&B goes, Torquay, whilst pricey to initially invest, is a popular hot spot for tourists.

The region even boasts its very own ‘Seaside Award’ too … with its very own sand sculptor to carve the logo for the award in the sand!

As if it’s not enough to have all this to hand, there’s even an organisation that promotes the area to tourists. Their website is a great place for potential visitors to find out about all of the events and activities that take place in Torquay during the tourism season, as well as out of season too.

These are the sorts of things that make particular regions appealing to those looking to set up their own B&B.

Finding a B&B or hospitality business where there is already a large draw for visitors to come to the area, is always a good plan. And it’s certainly one of the things that appealed to Elaine and Lee who bought Blenheim House, their B&B business,  in January 2017.

In the last 18 months, their business has gone from strength to strength with guests returning regularly for their own dose of the English Riviera.

Just some of the events and attractions that draw in the 1.45 million staying visitors and the additional 3.8 million day visitors each year, include:

  • Visiting the beautiful beaches
  • Babbacombe model railway
  • Dinosaur world
  • The Air Show
  • Paignton Zoo
  • And endless eateries and restaurants that range from family-friendly fish and chips to a Michelin-starred dining experience.

So, if you fancy a visit to Torquay, either to scope out the potential for an English Riviera B&B, or to look for somewhere that you’ll feel right at home, we’d highly recommend Blenheim House. To find out more about what it’s like to run a B&B in a tourist haven like Torquay, you can check out our blog.

The Stewart Hindley Partnership are specialists in securing hospitality finance to enable you to set up your own B&B or boutique hotel. So once you’ve found an area you’re interested in settling in, give us a call on 01488 393040 and speak to one of our advisors about your hospitality finance requirements.

Guest Blog: 10 Tips for Buying a Pub

Buying a pub is a daunting task but, if you’ve always dreamed of doing it, there’s things you can keep in mind that will make the process a lot easier.

Here are 10 tips for buying a pub!

  1. Make sure it’s the right time.

Running a pub is a very demanding role and buying one will take even more effort in order to make it is successful. You need to make sure that you are buying when you are able to put the time in.

  1. You should have experience in the industry.

There is far more to a pub than pulling pints and working in one is the best way to find out what that is. Working in a pub will also give you an idea of whether this is the life you want and a job that you will love doing once you have bought it.

  1. Think carefully about whether you will buy freehold, leasehold or a tenancy.

Depending on what you go with will play a huge role in how much financing you’re able to get. There will also be differing amounts of responsibility and financial risks.

Ultimately, what you choose will depend on your experience and access to funds.

  1. Your pub needs to stand out.

The pub industry is very competitive, and it is difficult for independent businesses to stay afloat. You will have to have a clear idea of what will get your pub to stand out and draw customers so that you can make it a success.

  1. Pick the right location.

As with many businesses, the location of your pub will make a huge difference when your doors are open, and you need customers.

The type of pub that you run will also be dependent on where you are. Is it in the middle of a busy city and reliant on changing trends or is it a rural pub with a quieter and slower feel?

  1. Your target market needs to be well defined.

This relates to the previous two tips. Depending on your location, your target audience will be different and depending on your target audience, the way you make it stand out will change.

To make your business stand out, though, you will need to know who you want visiting your establishment. Trying to appeal to too large of an audience is a sure way to end up appealing to no one.

  1. It should not be an emotional purchase.

A pub gives a lot of us a good dose of nostalgia and there are very few people who have never thought of buying a pub after a few drinks at their local, but this kind of purchase needs to be completely void of emotions.

If you are going to make a profit and run a successful pub, you will need to make the purchase from an objective place. Do your research, write a business plan and talk to other people before you make the leap.

  1. Do thorough due diligence.

Know what business it is that you’re buying and what it is that you’re getting into. Make sure you’re aware of pre-existing contracts and legal troubles as well as what kind of agreements there are with the current employees.

This is also the time where you will be able to determine what the business is worth so that you don’t end up paying too much.

  1. Get advice from the professionals.

This process is a complicated one, especially if you haven’t bought a business before. Finding the right professionals to help you through can save you a lot of time and hassle.

Whoever you choose, though, should have specific experience in the sale and purchasing of pubs and make sure that they have good references.

  1. Make sure it lines up with your long-term goals.

This is the most important point. Buying a pub is a big commitment and it shouldn’t be done without a lot of thought as to how it will fit into your long-term goals.

The right planning and vision will be a large part of your business venture becoming successful.

It is a mammoth task to buy a pub and get it running successfully but, if you plan carefully, remain focused, and do as much research as possible, there is every chance that your new business can become everyone’s favourite local.

By Anthea Taylor, Assistant Editor at Dynamis and writes for all titles in the Dynamis stable including, and as well as other industry publications.




6 ways you can use local events to promote your B&B

Organised local events can often bring large numbers of tourists and visitors to your area, and there are many ways you can make the most of this opportunity to secure bookings for your B&B or boutique hotel.

Here are 6 ways you can work with event organisers to use these local events to leverage bookings:

  1. Offer a discount to event-goers

By offering event-goers a discount in return for a shout-out on their social media page or an advertising opportunity at their event, you’ll not only get your B&B or boutique hotel in front of more potential customers, you’ll also improve awareness, so those returning the following year are more likely to find you and book a room.

  1. Swap links

Approach the event organisers about swapping links. By linking to an event organiser’s site and promoting the event to your guests, the event organiser is likely to increase the potential visitors to the event, but you (and they) will also get a kudos kick from search engines that often use the number of links as an indicator of a quality site. And you? Well, you’re more likely to get more site visitors from the event site too. Definitely a win/win situation.

  1. Be active on social media

Like the event’s page or join the group. When people ask for advice on local places to eat, stay or visit, offer up helpful local suggestions.

  1. Ask the organisers to include a promotional flyer in any welcome packs, or even better, in their registration packs. If it’s a sporting event, the recipient may be looking for somewhere to stay. It makes the organisers look helpful and increases the number of people who know about your business.
  1. If you’re techie, set up a page about the event and how your B&B or boutique hotel is perfectly placed for visitors to the event. Link back to the event, making sure you use the event’s name in the page title and headers to secure the best chances of being found by those hoping to visit the event.
  1. Promote the event to your guests.

In the six months or more preceding the event, make sure your guests receive a flyer about the event. You might manage to get a repeat booking faster than you thought.

The Stewart Hindley Partnership are specialists in securing hospitality finance to enable you to own the B and B or boutique hotel that you’ve been dreaming of. However, we’re in it for the long run so, here in our blog, we also post articles about how to make your B&B a successful and sustainable business.

To speak to one of our advisors about your hospitality finance requirements give us a call on 01488 393040.



Are you risking your B&B business?

Trading as a B&B on a residential mortgage can leave you open to the risk that your loan will be called in by the bank. Whilst this often happens towards the end of a loan period, it can happen at any point.

Suddenly, you find yourself with 3 options:

  1. Find a lot of money to pay back the full amount on your mortgage.
  2. Find a new mortgage, pronto.
  3. Sell your home and business, quickly.

Option 1 is a pretty difficult thing to do. Option 3 can also be undesirable as, if the market isn’t right, you could end up losing out big time on your capital, and struggle to afford a new place to live.

Option 2 is your best bet, but even this isn’t without its problems.

The challenges of finding a new hospitality mortgage

If your mortgage has been called in, you may want to look for a new hospitality loan or mortgage. The trouble is, unlike residential mortgages, a hospitality mortgage is usually based on your revenue, not on your capital. This can leave you out in the cold if you only let rooms intermittently or only trade to suit your lifestyle

The other challenge comes with the fact that many B&B businesses are owned by couples later in their working life, as a way to combine income with lifestyle. Or, if your mortgage is 20 years into a 25 year term, it’s likely that you’ll be approaching the age of retirement. This poses another problem. Financial institutions can be reluctant to grant a long-term loan to B&B owners in their 60s, instead offering shorter terms.

This typically leaves a shortfall between the capital raised and the value needed to avoid selling your home.

How professional help can enable you to secure the loan you need

There are ways to overcome these challenges and increase your chances of securing a hospitality loan, without having to compromise.

At Stewart Hindley, we help hundreds of B&B owners find hospitality loans for their business every year.

We work with a network of lenders to lend to B&B owners and hotel proprietors, and we know what they are looking for, so we can use this experience to help B&B owners like you. We’ll work with you to put the structures and plans in place that maximise your chance of securing the loans you need to continue your dream, without losing your home and business.

To speak to one of our advisors about your hospitality finance requirements or some B&B advice give us a call on 01488 393040.

Blenheim House B&B

The real story of a day in the life of a B&B owner

Elaine and Lee own a beautiful B&B a short walk from Torquay seafront. They welcome guests from around the world to use their home as a base from which to enjoy spectacular coastal walks and visit popular tourist sites, such as the model village and the national park.

Elaine and Lee moved to Blenheim House in January 2017, in pursuit of a new life.

We helped Elaine and Lee to find the right hospitality finance for their business and, 18 months on, Elaine and Lee are enjoying being B&B hosts so much that they have decided to convert more of their living quarters to guest accommodation.

We asked Elaine what being a B&B owner is really all about and what advice she would give to wannabe B&B hosts.

What made you decide to set up a B&B?

I was working over 50 hours a week and my husband was also working long hours. We were tired of the daily grind.

We knew it was time to make a change, but we didn’t know how, so we set out to buy a house in the south with an annex. We thought this would bring in some money whilst we decided how we wanted to pursue our individual careers.

However, whilst looking for a house with an annex, we fell in love with Blenheim House and decided, that instead of going for a house with an annex, we’d try out the B&B life.

When we told family and friends about our plans to set up a B&B, we received mixed responses. Some people were really positive but lots of people warned us that it would be a lot of hard work and that the commitment to guests would mean we would be really restricted as to what we can do.

What has been the biggest challenge when you set up a B&B?

Thanks to Stewart Hindley, the financing and purchasing side of things was fairly straightforward. Carol and her team found us a great B&B mortgage and we have a lovely bank manager who still pops in for a cuppa from time to time.

So, for us, the biggest challenge was juggling the needs of our three children, our youngest of whom is 18, with pursuing our B & B dream in a new part of the country.

What does a day in the life of a B&B owner look like?

We tend to get up at 6.45am, and from the moment we get out of bed, we don’t tend to stop until the middle of the afternoon.

We get breakfast on and serve our guests a full English breakfast, cereals and toast between 8.30 and 9.30am.

Guests are supposed to check out between ten and half past, but often they’ll sit and chat with us, so sometimes they don’t check out until midday, but that’s ok with us. We enjoy getting to know our guests and understand that our guests are on holiday. We don’t want them to feel rushed or pressured. Often our guests liken staying with us to visiting close family, which is exactly how we want them to feel.

Once guests have checked out, we whizz around turning around the rooms for the next occupants. This usually takes myself and Lee around just over half an hour in each room. I’ll change the linen and towels whilst Lee cleans the room thoroughly, but he’s so particular about the cleaning it can take us longer.

We then wait to welcome our new guests.

We welcome our guests with a tray of fresh tea and coffee, biscuits and cakes. They can choose to have their welcome tray in their room or outside, whilst soaking up the sunshine in comfortable chairs on the decking area.

Sometimes guests don’t arrive until the evening, but that’s ok as once our jobs are done, we sit on the decking and soak up the holiday ambience that comes with being so close to Torquay seafront. Sometimes we might make the four minute walk down to the beach when we have some spare time.

What’s the best thing about running a B&B?

The best thing about running a B&B is meeting new guests.

We have guests that have stayed with us from Germany, Australia, France and Italy. We have a guest book brimming with positive reviews in all sorts of languages. We’re just finishing a new dining room area where we will have a scratch map on the wall for guests to scratch off where they are from, which will be fun.

We do what we can to ensure all our guests have an enjoyable stay and experience the very best of the area.

We give them our personal mobile numbers so they can contact us at any time if they have any questions and we’ve even been known to give guests a lift on occasion to help them ensure they get where they need to be, on time and in a relaxed state.

This approach seems to be popular with our guests, some of whom have been back 3 or 4 times in the last 18 months. Now, when they visit, it’s just like having extended family to stay.

What advice would you give to someone looking to set up a B&B?

We’d say just go for it – don’t worry about negative comments or the hard work. Make the lifestyle work for you.  Owning a B&B is fun. You meet some of the most amazing people. I just wish we’d done it ten years earlier.

If you’re dreaming of the B&B lifestyle and need hospitality finance to help turn your dream into a reality, give us a call on 01488 393040.

We can help you pull all these supporting documents together to get you over those initial hurdles and secure the finance you need to set up a B&B business.

Guest house

6 things every successful owner does before starting a B&B

Starting a B&B is seriously hard work. It can be extremely liberating too, breaking free from your day job to pursue your dream. But, if you’re going to be successful, you need to be prepared. Here are 6 things you need to do before starting a B&B business if you want to be successful.

1.    Prepare yourself for what it’s really like running a B&B.

Guests aren’t always grateful, cheery and full of joy during their adventures. Cooking a fried breakfast for 10 people or more is physically demanding, and you can expect to spend around half of your day turning the rooms around and preparing meals.

You should expect your social life to suffer too. However, if this isn’t putting you off, the more successful B&B owners can expect to make around £100k a year. Of course, many more make less than that.

2. Decide whether you’ll be starting a B&B business from scratch or whether you’ll be buying into something that’s already up and running.

Buying an established B&B is by far the easiest option and should start generating revenue faster than a new business particularly for new to trade operators.  If you want to start from scratch you will have to show you have the capital to cover mortgage repayments for at least the first 12 months of trading as well as money to convert the property into a B&B.

3.  Research the area.

What’s the appeal to visitors to come and stay with you? It could be a nearby business that provides a steady flow of contract staff needing a bed for weeknights, or spectacular coastal views and walks. Maybe there are museums and castles that draw visitors from miles around. Whatever it is, it should help you determine the service you’ll offer.

Will you price by the week or offer a separate rate for weekends? Who you are targeting and why they want to be in the area should drive the clientele that you are looking to appeal to.

If you are targeting families looking for a staycation then maybe a games room would add appeal, or if you have the space and the resources, a swimming pool. You can read more on adding appeal  in our article ‘5 ways to help your B & B guests enjoy rainy day holidays’.

If you are targeting local business people, then perhaps a more executive feel with free Wifi in the rooms and shoe polish or ironing boards available may be more important.

4. Consider how you’ll segregate your own living space from the space you’ll offer to guests.

Ideally you should set aside a living room for yourself that guests won’t have access to so you can unwind in the evenings. Having your own space will be essential to making your new business work for you, your family and your guests.

5. Secure finance from a specific hospitality finance provider such as Stewart Hindley.

A specific hospitality finance provider will have a better understanding of your needs and will also have a network of underwriters that fund B&Bs, hotels and restaurants.

At Stewart Hindley, we specialise in B&B finance and can provide support and advice to help you find the right products on the market to fit your individual needs as they stand, and also as they evolve with the growth of your business.

In order to secure finance for your B&B or hotel, you’ll need to be able to present your business plans and marketing plans and financial projections. At Stewart Hindley, we’ll help you pull all these supporting documents together to get you over the starting blocks and secure the finance you need to get your new business off the ground.

To speak to one of our advisors about your hospitality finance or B&B finance requirements give us a call on 01488 393040.


VisitEngland announce the 2018 Awards for Excellence

Last week VisitEngland  announced the recipients of its annual awards for Excellence in the UK Tourism Industry.

For the 29th year running, pub landlords, boutique hotel owners, B & B operators and more gathered to find out who really set themselves apart in the experiences they offer their visitors

VisitEngland Chief Executive Sally Balcombe said: “These awards shine a spotlight on our fantastic tourism industry, with the winners showcasing the quality, innovation and excellence on offer throughout the country.

“From an outstanding boutique hotel in the Dales to a guided tour of York’s chocolate-making history, from pine holiday lodges on the sandy beaches of Cornwall to a quintessentially English country-pub in Hertfordshire, these winners provide outstanding and truly memorable visitor experiences.”

Kirstie Allsopp presented the glamour-filled VisitBritain Awards evening at Bath Assembly Rooms, announcing the winners for titles such as Afternoon Tea of the Year, Dog Friendly Business of the Year, Visitor Information Provider of the Year and 18 other awards.

The awards demonstrate how truly individualistic holiday experiences here in the UK can be. Hotel owners, B & B operators and landlords have the freedom and flexibility to offer highly unique, fun and fabulous options for their guests that can not only enhance their experiences of staying in the UK, but can also create really memorable experiences right on their own doorsteps.

The Tourism Superstar Competition winner was Jim Reilly, a customer services advisor with Red Funnel Ferries, who was presented with his award by Daily Mirror’s Travel Editor, Nigel Thompson.

If you have a fabulous idea to offer something a little bit different and stand out from the competition and make a name for yourself within UK Tourism, but need some investment to get started, speak to one of our hospitality finance experts on 01488 393040 to find out how hospitality finance can help you find the funds you need to set your hospitality business apart from the crowd.



Spotlight on the Lake District

The Lake District has always been a popular destination for holidaying in the UK.

With its miles of unadulterated hillsides and spectacular glistening lakes, it’s not hard to see the appeal.

However, it seems that as holidaying abroad becomes more and more expensive, more families head to the Lakes for a bit of R&R.

Here are a few of the great and varied places to stay in the Lake District, all of which have been helped on their road to success by expert hospitality finance advice from Stewart Hindley and Partners.

Wordsworths in Ambleside – 

If you are travelling to the Lake District to soak up the great outdoors then Ambleside, situated right in the middle of the National Park, is likely to be on your radar.

If a fabulously situated B&B in the heart of Ambleside is what you’re after, then Wordsworths is a hidden gem.

Wordsworths is a short walk to the popular Lake Windermere where you can catch a steamer or enjoy the spectacular views. If you’ve had enough of the great outdoors, then you can also head on over to The Salutation Hotel Health Club & Spa as guests receive a free pass.

Forest How in Eskdale Green – 

If you want wildlife at your door, then Forest How, just outside of Muncaster, is a good option. Whatever room you stay inn, you’ll be greeted by spectacular views across fields to the village of Eskdale Green and the fells beyond each morning. The 5 acres of land surrounding the Victorian property are frequently visited by roe deer, red squirrels and even barn owls.

If you want to challenge yourself, then Forest How is just a few miles from Wasdale and Scar Fell Pike and the steep Hardnott pass leading to Langdale.

The Elton Guest House in Grange-over-Sands – 

A great one for families and couples alike, is the Elton Guest House in the peaceful Victorian town of Grange-over-Sands. A limestone building from around 1840, the Elton is a beautiful place to spend a long weekend, or even a full week, as you visit the many sights in the area.

Being so close to Windermere, and a stone’s throw from The Grange Hotel, the Elton Guest House is perfectly placed for wedding guests as well as tourists.

Stewart Hindley are hospitality finance experts. With an extensive network of financiers, we can help B&B and Boutique hotel owners to find the hospitality finance they need to invest in their businesses.


How to use social media to boost your B&B bookings

You’d be forgiven for thinking social media has had its day. However, an active social media account can be a great way to showcase your business, reach out to a new market and demonstrate exactly what makes your B&B or Boutique hotel special.

Social media is an investment of time, so only use social media if you are committed to getting results. Don’t expect overnight miracles. Your first post won’t land you hundreds of bookings, but with a long-term and consistent approach you can expect:

  • An improved relationship with your own guests
  • Greater awareness of your B&B among potential customers
  • Increased referrals

Here are a few tips on how to use social media successfully to promote B&B businesses.

Focus your efforts

3 posts a week on one platform will be more effective than one post a week on three platforms. Ideally three times a week is the minimum you should be going for.

Identify what sort of people you are trying to target and where they spend their time. Are they Pinterest people or Facebook fanatics? Once you know where to find the customers you are targeting, you can then establish where to focus your efforts.

Think about your message

Maybe you want to promote the homeliness of your B&B, maybe the convenience? Perhaps you’re all about the wealth of things to explore on your doorstep, or the ease of access to major transport routes.

What’s the best way to showcase this? Links, photos, testimonials, your website? Shake it up a bit by using a variety of different types of content. On average, posts with images receive 230% more clicks than those without.

Don’t get caught up thinking your social media page is all about you

Experts say that your social media post should adhere to the ‘rule of 3’.

A third of your posts should promote your business. Think photos of fresh cakes, roaring fires, glowing testimonials. Another third of your posts should share useful content from other thought leaders in the industry. For example, you could link to one of our blogs like this one on Devon, or you could share a blog or news article from a local attraction that guests at your B&B or Boutique hotel might like to visit.

The final third of your content should be made up of personal interactions. Messages to guests who have visited or those about to arrive, guests who perhaps celebrated a special occasion with you the same time last year, or even guests planning trips to local attractions that might be looking for somewhere to stay.

Plan your content

The interactive side of your content needs to be done regularly, but by planning the content about your business, you’ll remove a lot of the strain and effort from social media posting. Maybe spend an hour at the start of each month to write out some posts and, if you’re feeling inclined, you can use a free posting service such as Hootsuite to schedule posts in advance. Just don’t forget to do the personal interaction too!

And, if the extra business this generates leaves you finding yourself needing to improve or refurbish your concern, you can always give the helpful team at Stewart Hindley & Partners a call on 0845 272 4000 to find out about how we can help you with your hospitality finance or B&B finance requirements.