What table linen should you choose?
The table linen on which the breakfast you serve your guests is important to the overall impression that the most important meal of your business makes, reasons Out of Eden’s Holly Alderson
Aside from providing lovely, fresh sheets and a comfy, cosy bed for your guests, the latter aspect of a bed and breakfast is just as important as the former.
It is probably the full English you serve to your guests that will leave a lasting impression, but what about their first impression of breakfast? Before your guests have even had chance to sample the food you’ve prepared, their initial judgements of the dining experience will come from the appearance of your breakfast table.
In this article, therefore, we refer less to the food you provide, but rather the table linen on which your guests’ breakfast sits, whether this be tablecloths, napkins, table runners or mats. Choosing which style suits your B&B can be something of a task, so here are a few pros, cons, considerations and hospitality tips to make your decision easier when designing the perfect dining experience for your guests.
There are several reasons why you might choose to use a tablecloth, but the main one is their appearance. Tablecloths can bring a particularly elegant, classy and sophisticated feel to your dining room, and they can work equally well at tying into the décor/colour scheme of your B&B. Say, for instance, your coastal B&B hosts a nautical theme, a white tablecloth with navy napkins will really feed into the whole aesthetic. Tablecloths are also an effective way of hiding your not-so-elegant table with a lovely crisp, clean linen and your guests will be none the wiser!
So, what are the downsides to tablecloths? Perhaps the biggest one is that the cleaning, drying and laying out of the tablecloth every day can be quite time-consuming and fiddly. On the other hand, the consistent washing of the linens ensures that they are the most hygienic option for your guest’s table. In order to counteract this somewhat time-consuming task, at Out of Eden we provide both pre-folded napkins to quickly pop your cutlery in, and table protectors that can be placed underneath your tablecloth, protecting your furniture from stains, heat damage and bumps and scratches, while effectively doubling as an anti-slip guard, giving you extra peace of mind when laying out your table.
Your main considerations when choosing table linen should involve three main factors: firstly, what is your table shape and size? Depending on the shape of your table you will need a circular, square or rectangular tablecloth, and you must also consider how much drop you need around the sides.
Secondly, you need to consider whether you want a white, coloured or patterned tablecloth. While white tablecloths consistently remain the most popular and classic choice (and make it much easier to bleach out stains!), coloured and patterned tablecloths can bring a homely feel to your dining room – a huge reason why guests choose to stay in a B&B.
Lastly, given that you will be repeat-washing table linen every bit as often as bed linen, the investment in quality fabric is absolutely worth it to ensure sturdiness and colour retention. We recommend 100% cotton for extra durability.
Trendy table runners
As an alternative to the traditional feel created with a crisp linen tablecloth, table-runners are equally attractive, yet they add a more modern and minimalist feel to your dining room. Instead of the laborious task of washing, drying and laying out tablecloths, table runners are usually an easier-to-clean alternative as they generally only require wiping down after use. Furthermore, by using table runners instead of a tablecloth, you can show off that wonderful table of yours instead of hiding it away. A table-runner can also be a nice way to bring colour into your dining room – and why not co-ordinate your runner with matching table mats or napkins? Tying the whole look together can really accentuate your attention to detail.
Not forgetting napkins
Whether you choose crisp tablecloths or contemporary table runners, napkins are an absolute necessity. Napkins work well as a dash of colour on your breakfast table, while doubling as an attractive way to present cutlery. They are extremely convenient for your guests – and for you, too, when it comes to soaking up stains and catching crumbs. For a more personal touch, why not present your guests with a ‘Good Morning’ napkin to really lighten their mood first thing in the morning?
Remember the basics
Whichever style you choose, the most important thing to remember is keeping your dining room clean, fresh and well-presented. Don’t overlook the small but critical touches such as clean cutlery and glasses, as these can be the things that make or break a guest’s impression. To bring the whole table together, add a small bunch of seasonal flowers to your table to really showcase your attention-to-detail.