Opinion banner for Rayma Jenkins, Bed & Breakfast Association President
Rayma Jenkins is the President of Bed & Breakfast Association New Zealand, a nation-wide association that works to help and support bed and breakfast operators.

“Design – the word has different connotations depending upon the field in which it is being used. In the accommodation industry, we would most commonly think of design in relation to the layout and interior of the rooms the guests use.

The objective of good design in accommodation should be focused on the guest’s experience and comfort. Products and spaces designed well, work better, make us feel better and hence enhance the guest’s experience.

Historically in the bed and breakfast industry in New Zealand, bed and breakfast accommodation was offered in an existing home, so the rooms used were first and foremost rooms that had been designed for a family. As many of the first New Zealand bed and breakfasts were located on farms, the rooms used had probably accommodated the children from the time they were a baby to adulthood. Adapting these rooms to suitable accommodation for discerning travellers must have been a challenge but one our original hosts embraced, and as a result, their guests enjoyed the ‘real’ New Zealand experience.

However, over time the demands of the guests have become more sophisticated, and now, of course, most at the very least expect a private bathroom but probably an ensuite so adapting the family home has been a challenge. Now we have many purpose-built bed and breakfasts that are able to employ elements of good design that are guaranteed to give the guest a premium experience – or does it?

Have these purpose-built B&Bs started to look like just another hotel room, lacklustre and offer “same old same old” or do they still offer refined, bespoke options which guests love? Are they still offering an exhilarating experience that is a feast for the senses? Is the layout unexpected, are the colours distinct, are there stand out bed covers and cushions or art and rugs and is there the smell of fresh flowers or unique toiletries?

The joy of the traditional bed and breakfast is its individuality, and most are an authentic experience for the guests. Members do meet requirements ensuring a degree of comfort. For example at least one opening window with clear glass to provide natural light and fresh air or bedside reading lights placed at a suitable height for reading and controllable from the bed, as well as adequate space to place and store luggage. No two members meet our list of basic requirements in the same way, and we encourage them to keep their uniqueness.

Something bed and breakfasts have as a strength is now being recognised by the hotels. There are many where ‘limited and lacklustre’ is being challenged. Inspired interiors are coming to the fore. A particular establishment may be both loved by our guests and loathed by some; however, it does elicit a response, and as long as websites reflect the property accurately there should not be cause for complaint.

Let each property tell its own unique story, from the traditional colonial villa to modern purpose-built bed and breakfasts. Let the guests experience surprise, let all of their senses be engaged. Remember to keep it genuine, let it reflect its location and owners. It might not be everyone’s aesthetic, it might occasionally not be appreciated by the guest, but at least it does elicit a response. Keep the excitement, comfort and mystery for our guests.”

Rayma Jenkins


Bed and Breakfast Association New Zealand