Travel Advice - Are "Bed and Breakfasts" for you?
Bed and Breakfast lodging is one of the fastest growing segments of the hospitality marketplace. B and B’s offer a variety of amenities to the traveler who is seeking a more “social” environment than you are likely to find in hotels or motels. In addition, B and B’s are often more reasonably priced than other alternatives. In the article below, we survey the world of B and B’s to provide you with the information that you need to know to consider a booking.
In the U.S., hotels and motels are available almost everywhere we travel. In Europe and the U.K. you will be less likely to find many hotels or motels in rural areas, or in some smaller cities. We believe B and B’s offer a viable alternative to hotels and motels. We have had good experiences while staying in B and B’s in the U.S. and abroad.
What exactly is a Bed and Breakfast?
The B and B is simply that: a lodging establishment that provides a room with a bed for sleeping and, sometimes, a private bathroom. All establishments that have the Bed and Breakfast title serve a hearty breakfast each morning.
Most B and B’s are private homes that have been renovated into a sophisticated boarding house style accommodation. Some rooms are “ensuite” that is, with a private bathroom. The bathroom usually includes a shower or, rarely, a bath. Many rooms are not “ensuite” and guests share a common bathroom.
Our preference is to book a room “ensuite” as we find sharing a bathroom to be inconvenient. The only sure way to guarantee that you receive a room with a private bath is to make a reservation for one and pay the small premium that these rooms normally require. Our experience is that “ensuite” rooms are rarely available unless you have reserved them prior to your trip.
Breakfast is usually served in a large dining room with small tables set for individual parties. In general, we have found the food, well prepared and served in generous portions. In some areas, the quality of the breakfast is exceptional. Rarely have we found the food quality at a B and B to be inferior to that offered at local restaurants.
You should note that the breakfasts are usually appealing and high calorie. It takes a lot of discipline to eat lightly at our favorite Bed and Breakfasts but that is exactly what we try to do.
Most B and B’s are non-smoking facilities but be sure and ask for a non-smoking room if that is your preference. In fact, you need to tell the B and B’s owner if you smoke, as many hosts do not allow smoking in their home.
Some Bed and Breakfasts (especially those in the UK) also offer dinner on a reservation basis. Usually during breakfast, the owner will show you the menu for the evening and ask you if you would like to make reservations. Be warned, you cannot show up for dinner without reservations, as the host buys the ingredients for the dinner based on the guest list. If you are not on the list, you will not be eating dinner at that B and B. We have found these dinners to be of excellent quality and good values. In very small towns, where there is not a lot of choice in selecting a restaurant, Bed and Breakfasts that offer dinner can be a very good choice. In general, we try to sample what the town has to offer and try to limit ourselves to one dinner at any B and B.
Most B and B’s have a “social room” where guests are free to meet and join in conversation before and after dinner. In many B and B’s in European countries, coffee and desert are served in the “social room” after dinner. We find the “social room” a great way to mix with fellow travelers. In addition, it is a great opportunity to find out about things to see and do in the area that you might have missed when you developed your exploration plan.
Are Bed and Breakfasts for you?
Many B and B’s are good value but you should not book on value alone. B and B’s often reflect the personalities of their owners and it is safe to say that a stay in a B and B is never the same as a stay in a property of a hotel chain. Many travelers have become used to the “no surprises” aspects of major hotel chains and are uncomfortable with rooms or service levels that are not what they expected. We find the variety in décor and ambiance of B and B’s (as well as the personalities of the owners) to be interesting, acceptable, and sometimes the root of a great story when we return home. (See our examples)
One of the most wonderful aspects of B and B’s is that the owners often spend a great deal of time and effort to design interesting, comfortable surroundings, and a social experience that provide you with a slice of the local environment. We recommend that you consider B and B’s when traveling, as they can provide valuable access to the local character and culture.
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