What is a Guest House?

What is a Guest House?
Photo by ArtTower

If you’ve ended up here, you’re probably wondering, “what is a guest house?” Or maybe your question is, what is the difference between a guest house and a B&B?

Or is it the difference between a guest house and a hotel that you are interested in? Or maybe you are a traveler that is just interested in what is a guest house.

Well, trust me, you have come to the right place on the internet. In this article, we will enlighten you and explain everything you need to know about a guest house, their history that will interest you, and the advantages of this type of accommodation.

Without further ado, let’s get into the question of what is a guest house.

What is a Guest House: Meaning and Etymology

A guest house (also spelled “guesthouse”) is the literal translation of the word “house for the guests.” A guest house is an accommodation where a traveler stays in a house hosted by a local resident. They are generally less expensive, less formal, and more personalized than hotels.

It is a unique form of accommodation. They are apartments or rooms that are made available to customers for the short or medium term.

In some places, a guest house resembles a hostel, bed, and breakfast (B&B), or inn, while in others, a guest house is a type of inexpensive accommodation similar to a hotel-like lodging.

In still other places, it is a private house that has been converted for the exclusive use of guest accommodation.

The owner usually lives in a completely separate space within the property, and the guest house can serve as a form of the lodging business, and this is what characterizes the guest house the most.

In some parts of the world, guest houses have come to be the most common type of accommodation or the only one available.

And this may simply be rooms in a private house that have been converted into tourist accommodation and, therefore, for lodging purposes.

The history of the guest house dates back to antiquity. Perhaps the most famous early examples of guesthouses were lodgings built along the Silk Road, the renowned network of overland trade routes from East Asia to Europe. Whereas finding a safe place to sleep has always been an essential part of travel logistics.

During the Silk Road era (from the 2nd century BC), savvy entrepreneurs and rulers built safe accommodations for caravanners transporting goods over long distances.

These buildings were called “caravanserai” (also called khans, hans, funduqs, wikalas, etc., depending on the place).

Caravanserais were originally lodges, guest houses, motels, hostels, and inns (the term “guest house” was not used until recently). They were strategically built so travelers would be able to move from roof to roof on a fixed and reliable schedule.

Fast-forward to the 20th century, leisure travel has become much more accessible to the average person.

Since the 1950s, the number of guesthouses has grown exponentially worldwide, especially among backpackers in Europe and Asia.

Guest houses have now tended to develop unique regional styles, from South America to Europe, Japan, and India, attracting travelers of different tastes and budgets.

Types of Guest House

When it comes to what is a guest house type, the choice is vast. Although the basic features of a guesthouse are standard (bedroom, bathroom, common areas), guesthouse facilities can vary greatly in form and ambiance. There are 8 types of guesthouses you can find while you travel.

Different categories and styles adapted to all possible tastes and needs: 

  1. Rural
  2. Urban
  3. Budgets
  4. Luxury
  5. Boutique
  6. Historical/cultural
  7. Mountain
  8. Eco-friendly

What is a Guest House: What kind of Facilities are Provided

The facilities offered in the guest house may differ from accommodation to accommodation. Guesthouses have few facilities, usually reflected in the price, which is generally relatively low compared to other accommodations such as hotels.

For example, guesthouses can be self-contained houses or apartments and offer a variety of sleeping options, from single beds to private units with multiple bedrooms.

Some offer only one room, while others offer several. You can have common areas such as a living room, a kitchen equipped with utensils where guests can freely cook or prepare their own meals, shower cabins (bathrooms), etc.

Also, some guesthouses may decide to offer breakfast depending on the location; for example, guesthouses located along multi-day hiking (such as the popular Himalayan trails in Nepal) will serve breakfast and dinner at specific times each day. 

These guest houses are an integral part of a hiker’s program because there aren’t many other options for lodging or food options on the highest mountain range in the world. At the same time, some will not offer breakfast or daily room cleaning services.

In this form of accommodation, however, the owner makes the kitchen and living room available to his guests. However, some guest houses may tend to have additional services, such as:

  1. laundry service
  2. Concierge Service
  3. garden
  4. swimming pool. etc

Guest houses generally operate in a less “commercial” and less “structured” way than hotels. Their environment may feel more like home than business, and the rules are often not strict (like early check-in time).

Guesthouses are also often family owned and operated. Many do not employ external staff. Hosts can take over all the work or share it among family members. 

For example, the host’s brother can be the guide/driver, and his grandmother can be the one to cook breakfast.

The eggs for your omelet can come from the family’s chickens, vegetables from their garden, and water from a local spring.

Staying in a guest house allows you to discover the local culture from the point of view of the residents (daily life, cuisine, customs). And all this makes the guest house ideal for travelers looking for a relaxed and homely atmosphere.

Why Should You Stay in a Guest House?

Now we know, “what is a guest house?” The next question would be why you should choose a guest house over other accommodation options. There are several reasons why you should consider staying in a guest house on your next trip. 

Guesthouses are a great alternative to hotels and B&Bs, especially for those looking for cheaper and often more charming accommodation.

If you save money on accommodation, you’ll have more to spend on things like tours, restaurants, car rentals, and nightlife. 

Guest houses are the best option for travelers looking for an authentic experience and a pleasant family atmosphere.

A typical feature of this type of accommodation is the contact with the locals, which allows them to know and discover their culture and traditions.

Guesthouses can be located just anywhere. Plus, since the owner and his family live in the property, it allows for immersing yourself in the local neighborhood with a more “residential” vibe.

By doing so, you can discover how the locals live and experience something different from the typical accommodation experience, giving you an authentic “slow tourism” experience.

You can potentially learn about daily life, customs, language, and cuisine from a local’s perspective. 

Guesthouses that have a social atmosphere help create an environment where guests can meet like-minded and interesting travelers to laugh, eat, and share travel tips. It is also not uncommon for guests and hosts to talk over a meal or drink.

Some properties work with local tour guides or organize their own events, such as walking tours and wine tastings.

At this point, you should know choosing this form of accommodation is the best and cheapest way to travel to places like Asia and Southeast Asia (especially the Maldives).

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