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What is a bed and breakfast and what can I expect?

What is a Bed and Breakfast or Guesthouse in South Africa?
In South Africa accommodation providers try to entice guests seeking specific styles of accommodation by advertising that they qualify for all sectors. Some establishments offer various styles of accommodation so if a lodge offers self-catering and camping they are still a lodge but they offer additional services of self-catering and camping style accommodation. This will never make them a country house, guesthouse or bed and breakfast as they are much bigger and meet lodge criteria.

Similarly don’t necessarily expect a bed and breakfast or guest house to have bar and restaurant facilities, this seldom the case. If they do offer this and their number of rooms exceed what is stipulated they are no longer in the classification they are advertising.

This being said if you are looking for a particular experience then bear this in mind when making a booking. You are entitled to know what you are getting and to ask for clarification.

This article is especially for travelers who actively seek out bed and breakfast/guesthouse style accommodation because that is what they want and are used to. When looking for bed and breakfasts in South Africa it can be difficult for overseas visitors to determine if an establishment is bed and breakfast or not from establishment’s websites, and their advertising.

A large proportion of accommodation establishments in South Africa wrongly advertise their services because controls are not in place as they are in other parts of the World.

Although a classification policy is in place it is seldom applied in South Africa.

Accommodation classifications are as follows according to the star grading council of South Africa:

These classifications apply to establishments that are graded but other establishments seem to make up their own rules.

HOTEL
Hotel provides formal accommodation with full or limited service to the traveling public.

A hotel has a reception area and offers a dining facility. A hotel must have a minimum of 6 rooms but more likely exceeds 20 rooms.

Minimum service levels to qualify are:

On site representative must be contactable 24 hours, 7 days per week.

All meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and beverages must be provided from outlets within the complex (may/may not be operated by the property).

Servicing of rooms 7 days (this includes linen/towel change, removal of rubbish and cleaning).

Formal reception area must be provided.

LODGE
A formal accommodation facility providing full or limited service, located in natural surroundings beyond that of an immediate garden area.

Minimum Service levels to qualify:

  • Scenic or natural vista (beyond that of the immediate garden area) e.g. water view, rural outlook, mountain view or natural bush setting – possibly with the provision of wildlife.
  • On site representative must be contactable 24 hours, 7 days per week.
  • Meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and beverages must be provided from outlets within the complex (may/may not be operated by the property).
  • Servicing of rooms 7 days (this includes linen/towel change, removal of rubbish and cleaning).

COUNTRY HOUSE

Can be an existing home, a renovated home or a building that has been specifically designed as a residential dwelling to provide overnight accommodation, which has public areas for the exclusive use of its guests. It is situated in natural peaceful
surroundings such as near a nature reserve, a forest, a lake etc.

Minimum Service levels to qualify:

Scenic or natural vista (beyond that of the immediate garden area) e.g. water view, rural outlook, mountain view or natural bush setting.

On site representative must be contactable 24 hours, 7 days per

week.

Meals and beverages must be provided from outlets within the complex (may/may not be operated by the property).

Servicing of rooms 7 days (this includes linen/towel change, removal of rubbish and cleaning)

GUEST HOUSE

Category Definition:

Can be an existing home, a renovated home or a building that has been specifically designed as a residential dwelling to provide overnight accommodation, must have more than three rooms and public areas for the exclusive use of its guests.

Category Entry Requirements:

  • If the host/manager and guests are accommodated in the same building, there must be separate living areas.
  • A host must be available to check guests in/out or within a 10 minute drive from the property.
  • Daily servicing must be included in the tariff.
  • Shared facilities (not with host) must be a minimum of a guest dining room and guest lounge area.
  • Shower and toilet facilities may be shared by other guests but must not be shared with the host.
  • Breakfast must be served
  • BED AND BREAKFAST

More informal accommodation with limited service that is provided in a family (private) home with the owner/manager living in the house or on the property. Breakfast must be served. Bathroom facilities must be en-suite. If not, exclusive use of bathroom facilities per room is ensured. In general the guest shares the public areas with the host family.

Category Entry Requirements:

  • Owner/manager must live in the house or on the property.
  • Breakfast may be included in the tariff and must be prepared and served by the host.
  • Daily servicing must be included in the tariff.
  • Shower and toilet facilities may be shared by other guests but must not be shared with the host.

BACKPACKERS AND HOSTELS

A backpacker and or hostel is an accommodation facility that provides communal facilities, including dormitories, yet may offer a range of alternative sleeping arrangements. Can be an existing home, a renovated home or a building that has been specifically designed as a residential dwelling to provide overnight accommodation, together with public areas for the exclusive use of its guests. Only establishments that cater for transient guests (traveling public) will qualify for grading. Backpackers or hostels provide budget oriented, sociable accommodation where guests can rent a bed, usually a bunk bed, in a dormitory and share a bathroom, lounge and a kitchen. Rooms can be mixed or single-sex, although private rooms may also be available. Backpackers or hostels are generally cheaper for both the operator and the occupants.

Category Entry Requirements:

  • Guest communal rooms must be available – (lounge, dining areas, kitchen including the use of cooking facilities and utensils).
  • Communal shower and toilet cubicles must provide total privacy and lockable doors.
  • Representative must be contactable 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Minimum of 1:10 (beds) for showers and toilets (not including hosts or en-suite facilities).
  • Rooms must be serviced 7 days (this includes, linen/towel change, removal of rubbish and cleaning).

CARAVAN AND CAMPING

Category Definition:

A Caravan and Camping Park is a facility that provides space for guests who provide their own accommodation, such as a tent, a motor home and/or a caravan, together with ablution and toilet facilities. Only establishments that cater for transient guests will qualify for grading.

Category Entry Requirements:

  • Communal shower and toilet facilities must provide total privacy and lockable doors.
  • Manager/Care taker must visit daily.
  • Properties without a manager/caretaker or representative must have a sign clearly indicating a phone number or address where inquiries can be made in case of an emergency.
  • Powered and/or un-powered sites provided.
  • Usually have recreational facilities, play equipment, park gardens and landscaping.
  • Showers, toilets, laundry and cooking facilities are shared in a common amenities area.

SELF CATERING ACCOMMODATION

“Self-catering” – A Self Catering property is your home away from home. It usually offers guests a sole occupancy unit consisting of one or more bedrooms or suites and a dining area with cooking facilities. Self-catering accommodation styles include Apartments, Holiday Units, Houses, Cottages, Chalets, Villas and Cabins. Limited service is optional.

Cooking facilities: minimum of microwave, 2 hot plates, saucepans, crockery, cutlery and cooking utensils must be provided.
Manager must be contactable 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Properties without a resident manager must have a sign clearly indicating the contact details of where inquiries can be made in case of an emergency.

THINGS TO NOTE:

A lodge or hotel that serves breakfast in their restaurant is not a bed and breakfast.
A lodge or hotel that offers conference facilities is not a bed and breakfast
A bush camp with external tented accommodation that makes breakfast for guests is not a bed and breakfast.

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