In this exclusive Q&A with renowned licensing lawyers at Flint Bishop, we explore the opportunities presented by licensing your outdoor bar in terms of increasing footfall, revenue and elevating the overall guest experience.

How can a hotel maximise the potential of its outdoor space? 

The addition of an outdoor bar is becoming increasingly popular and provides a unique and refreshing atmosphere for guests. Visitors can enjoy their drinks in the open air, surrounded by beautiful landscapes or city views. This outdoor setting creates a sense of relaxation, which can be a major draw for customers seeking a memorable experience.

By adding an outdoor bar, venues can not only cater for a variety of clientele, but also increase their overall capacity. This is particularly valuable during peak seasons or events when indoor spaces become crowded. The availability of an exterior bar allows hotels to accommodate more guests and allows for pressure to be relieved from an internal bar, minimising wait times and maximising revenue potential.

Additionally, outdoor spaces provide great potential for hosting special events, such as live music performances, themed parties, or outdoor movie nights. These events attract a diverse range of customers and create a buzz around the hotel, generating interest and attracting new patrons. Unique experiences like these differentiate the hotel from competitors and contribute to its overall brand image.

What are the main regulations a hotel venue should be aware of when they are operating their outdoor bar? 

When considering an outdoor bar, there are two main regulations to consider:

Licensing: Under the Licensing Act 2003, any amendments to the licensable area of the premises will require the appropriate and relevant licensing application to be submitted. Depending on your current licence and plan, the addition of an outdoor bar will most likely need to be added to the licence by way of a major variation, which is subject to a 28-day consultation period and costs which will include a council fee of between £190-£635 depending on the rateable value of the premises, and a newspaper advert fee which on average costs between £250-450.Planning: Check to see whether you need planning permission to install an outdoor bar, the requirements for planning will largely depend on whether the bar is fixed or temporary.

What are the first steps a hotel venue should take to open a fully licensed outdoor bar?

The addition of an outdoor bar can be quite contentious especially where there is the potential for noise nuisance, so we would always advise speaking to a licensing specialist to get advice in the first instance, especially as each  council has their own policy.

Our licensing team are well versed in all types of licensing applications, and can guide and help you through the licensing process.