Licensing a Hotel in the UK

If you’re opening a hotel in the UK, whether that be a 5-star hotel or a hostel, you must ensure that you have all the correct hotel licences to run it legally.

This page will help you understand the different licences which you must have in place to do this, as well as the different things you must consider to open your hotel. If you’d like to speak to one of our professionals about licensing support directly, get in touch today or reach out directly by emailing or calling 0114 266 8664.

Which licences does a hotel need in the UK?

If you’re looking to open a hotel in the UK, it’s possible that you may provide food and drinks (such as a bed and breakfast service) for your guests. You may also wish to play music in the reception area, or have a television either in each room or in a communal area.

In order to ensure that your hotel is correctly following all the legal guidance, here are the licences that you may need:

1. Register as a food business

If you’re planning on serving hot food in your hotel, such as a hot breakfast, then you must register as a food business with your local council.

For example, if your business was based in Sheffield, you must register to become a food business by going through the Sheffield county council website. When registering your business with your local council, please ensure that you register it with the council that oversees the location of your food business. If you don’t know which council oversees the location of your business, use the local council finder to find out.

Your business must be registered as a food business with the appropriate local council at least 28 days before opening. If you require assistance registering with your local council, please get in touch with the John Gaunt & Partners team today.

2. Premises licence 

If you’re planning to sell alcohol in your hotel, then you need 2 licences: a premises licence and a personal licence.

A premises licence is a licence that is needed to sell alcohol and provide entertainment. If you also wish to sell hot food and drinks to non-residents after 11pm, you will need permission for late night refreshment on your premises licence.

This is the licence which belongs to your business premises, and allows alcohol to be sold by your premises.

When applying for your Premises Licence, it is important that you take into account the following factors:

Your Operating Schedule

Your Operating Schedule is an important part of your Premises Licence, forming the basis of it. Making sure you properly note down and keep to your Operating Schedule is very important in maintaining your Premises Licence.

Before all else, your Operating Schedule should include detail on how you will promote the following licensing objectives:

  • The prevention of crime and disorder 
  • Public safety
  • The prevention of public nuisance
  • The protection of children from harm 

Please understand that this part of your application is highly important, and will form a part of your licence.

If you need to discuss this part of the application and need expert advice, speak to our licensing experts at John Gaunt & Partners. We will ensure that your end licence meets the needs of your business.

Hours of operation

As a hotel owner, having a deep understanding of your hours of operation is important. Hotels by nature operate 24/7, however hours of operation for certain areas need to be carefully considered, for example bars and restaurants. The use of vending machines is becoming more popular, and they are used to sell to residents items that can include alcohol. If you have vending machines selling age restricted products, such as alcohol, these need to be carefully considered within your application.

You may also need to consider how activity hours differ for residents and non-resident during this part of your application. Careful consideration needs to be taken to ensure that the licence is fit for purpose and able to be granted. When deciding on activity hours for residents and non-residents, please bear in mind that a 24 hour licence for residents is commonly accepted, where a 24 hour licence for non-residents is much less common.

If you’re opening a hotel and require advice on the hours of operation that will work best for you, get in touch with John Gaunt & Partners. Our team are experts in licensing law, and their experience opening hotels across the UK can provide options that you didn’t even know were available to you.

Proving that you are entitled to work in the UK

If you cannot prove that you are entitled to work in the UK, you will not be able to obtain a Premises Licence. You must show your eligibility to work in the UK, and prove that you are subject to any conditions that prevent you from obtaining a Premises Licence. Immigration checks can be performed during this part of the process, so make sure that you are prepared to take part in one.

Acquire DPS consent

Your Designated Premises Supervisor, who will hold a Personal Licence for your hotel, will most likely be the person handling queries and communications surrounding your licence. Be sure to get their consent when applying for your Premises Licence.

Plan of your Premises

Providing a detailed plan of your premises is vital. This can be a challenge with hotels, which have licensable activities over a large area. When considering the plan of your premises, make sure to include elements such as:

  • Where your property boundaries are
  • Where the exits and entrances are across your entire property
  • Where toilets are located (both toilets accessible by the public and in guest rooms)
  • Where staircases and steps are located
  • Where fire escapes and other other fire exits are found throughout the property
  • Where your Licensable Activity areas are - for instance the hotel bar, reception desk etc.
  • Does your hotel have relevant safety equipment available
  • Are there any other areas of your hotel that might need licensing considerations

When filling out this part of the application, be sure to outline your licensable areas in red. Be sure to consider your licensable areas carefully, so you can make the most of them without jeopardising the success of your Premises Licence application. There are a lot of considerations to take into account when filling out this important section of your Premises Licence application, and as such we recommend speaking to an expert to ensure that nothing is missed. Reach out to the team at John Gaunt & Partners today, where our experienced advice will ensure that no part of your Premises Plan is missed.

The Local Licensing Committee and acting outside of your licence

There are a vast number of elements to consider when filling out a Premises Licence application form for your hotel, and to fill out the form without expert legal advice is not recommended.

Consider that a licence application that is completed incorrectly can be left open to objections, forcing it to be reviewed by the Local Licensing Committee. This could result in a rejection of the application at worst, or a delay in the opening of your hotel at best.

Missing elements from your licence application should also be a concern, especially if that application is successful. In the circumstance that your hotel is found to be acting outside of what your licence permits, you could have your hotel temporarily closed, or even shut down permanently with your licence revoked. With this in mind, speaking to licensing experts like John Gaunt & Partners can genuinely help to make sure that no part of your licence application is missed, and everything is as it should be for the successful running of your hotel.

Review from Responsible Authorities

The Premises Licence application for your hotel will need to be considered by a number of Responsible Authorities, such as the Fire Office, Environmental Health, and the Police. These Responsible Authorities will review your application and provide feedback, which may or may not be in the best interests of your hotel. In these circumstances, arguing your case may seem like an intimidating prospect. 

If you are in a position where you need to discuss the acceptability of certain licensing activities or objectives, be sure to speak to the team at John Gaunt & Partners, who will ensure that you have representation and your needs are supported if they are lawful. Our team can work with you to help you decide if requests made by authorities are reasonable, and may be able to offer advice on less obvious consequences to agreeing or disagreeing.

Reach out to our team at John Gaunt & Partners today to discuss your hotel Premises Licence application and discuss representation if needed. To get in touch, fill out our contact form, or reach out directly by calling 0114 266 8664 or emailing today.

Please also bear in mind that if your application is due to appear before a Committee, we can provide representation and support your application, giving it the best possible chance of acceptance.

3. Personal licence

A personal licence is the second licence that is needed for your hotel to sell alcohol.

A personal licence allows the holder to sell alcohol, or authorise the sale of alcohol in a licenced venue or premises. Not all members of your business need to hold a personal licence to sell alcohol, however, venues commonly only have one personal licence holder to oversee and authorise the sale of alcohol.

If you wish to make a member of your staff a Personal Licence holder, make sure to follow the correct process of applying for a personal licence. An important first step is to ensure that the staff member passes a DBS check, and that they haven’t forfeited a Personal Licence any time within the past 5 years.

Accredited qualifications are also required for Personal Licence holders. These can be gained through courses like John Gaunt & Partners APLH course, which is available to take all year round.

If you are opening a new hotel and in the process of training staff, consider John Gaunt & Partners Allergen Awareness, Food Safety (Levels 1 to 3 in Catering, Retail and Supervising Food Safety), and Customer Service eLearning courses.

[CTA] View our Training Courses today

4. Music licence

In order to play any kind of music at your hotel, you will need to have a music licence.

You need a music licence if your hotel:

  • Plays any kind of recorded music, such as a CD, Spotify, radio or music channel
  • Has a stage with live music events

For more information on acquiring a music licence, visit the PPL PRS website.

5. TV Licence

If you have a TV in each hotel room, or have a TV in a communal area, then you must have a TV licence.

A single TV licence will cost £159 per year and will cover up to 15 rooms on a single site. If you have more than 15 rooms, there is an additional fee to pay.

Explore more about getting a TV licence for your hotel on the TV Licensing website.

Owners of hotel and guest house businesses should also be aware that they may be required to acquire a licence through the MPLC to play copyrighted material in public areas/bedrooms. The MPLC represents TV producers, as well as Hollywood and independent film studios, for licensing in the UK. For more information on this, visit the MPLC website when acquiring your licences. 

6. Pavement Licence

As a large number of hotels are based in cities, and often around high streets, acquiring a pavement licence may be a necessity.

You should purchase a pavement licence if you plan to advertise your hotel using an a-board, or if you wish to place furniture on the pavement for residents and non-residents to eat at. This licence allows you to move furniture and signage on and off certain pavements at specific times.

Your local authority will grant your pavement licence, so be sure to speak to the correct authority for your hotel location.

Currently, pavement licence fees are capped at £100. Fees themselves are set by the local authority.

Please be aware that this area of law is very complex, and varies from region to region. With this in mind, we recommend speaking to a specialist licensing expert for support in acquiring and understanding the nuances of your pavement licence, and finding the best possible pavement licence for your business.

7. Become a registered company

This is standard practice for any business in the UK including hotels, however you must register as a limited company with Companies House.

If you do not wish to run your hotel as a limited company, you should register as a sole trader through the HMRC.

How much does it cost to get a hotel licensed?

Hotel licence costs depend on what your hotel offers to your guests.

Personal Licence costs

Applying for a Personal Licence is £37, however you must also have a DBS check which currently costs £36+VAT.

Training costs are also a significant factor when applying for your Personal Licence. Training to get your APLH through John Gaunt & Partners costs only £120 + VAT per person, and your DPS can learn at their pace too, thanks to the eLearning nature of the course. Following your initial course enquiry, we will be in touch to arrange a date for the online examination.

John Gaunt & Partners can also offer an APLH Combined course, allowing you to complete the course and your Personal Licence application with a single flat rate. This method of completing your training streamlines the process greatly by including the DBS check and the drafting and submitting of your Personal Licence application through a member of our team. Get in touch with a member of our team today if you would like to discuss this method of completing your Personal Licence application.

Scotland based individuals who wish to gain a Personal Licence can do so by acquiring an SCPLH qualification through our course page. An SCPLH Combined option is also available to streamline the process of acquiring a Personal Licence.

Premises Licence Costs

The application fee payable to the local authority for a Premises Licence can be anywhere between £100 to £1,905, depending on the rateable value of the premises. When completing your Premises Licence application, you are also required to advertise the application at both the premises and in local press. Prices can vary when going direct to the press, so be sure to utilise John Gaunt & Partners agent to help you make significant savings.

For an indication of our fees when assisting on a Premises Licence application, view our ‘Premises Licence Costs’ page, but then please proceed to speak to a member of the John Gaunt & Partners team, who can give you a more accurate idea of the costs involved in your specific application.

Pavement Licence Costs

Please view our Pavement Licence page for more information on pavement licences, and look into what your local authority is currently charging. As mentioned before, this area of law can be very complex, so speaking to an expert is advised.

TV Licensing and Copyrighted Material licencing costs

If you have a television in each room, you will see a minimum fee of £159 if you have under 15 rooms. For hotels with over 15 rooms, you will be asked to pay an additional fee for every five extra units. For more information, be sure to visit the TV Licensing website

Be sure to include costs associated with the MPLC when you accumulate your figures also.

Hotel & guesthouse insurance

When you run a hotel, then insurance is needed to protect the building, your staff, and your customers. The hotel’s income is also vital, as without business your hotel would struggle to operate.

Protection of the building of your hotel comes under the buildings and content insurance, and people’s safety comes under employers’ liability insurance.

Business interruption insurance is also important if anything happens that could stop people from visiting your hotel, which could affect your income.

Need help getting the right licences for your hotel?

Getting your hotel licensed can be tricky to navigate, and making a slight error on one of the many applications could hinder the type of licence you receive. 

To get the best possible licence for your hotel, get in touch with our team today by contact form, or call 0114 266 8664 or email directly.