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Posts Tagged ‘advice for first time B&B guests’

First Time at A B&B? How to Get the Most Out of Your B&B Experience.

April 29th, 2013 by abedofroses

Oregano in bunny pot

You’ve decided that maybe a B&B really is a “better way to stay” than an anonymous hotel with cookie cutter rooms. Now how do you make sure that you’re really getting all the benefits of a bed and breakfast when you’ve never been to one before? Here are some tips on how to maximize your stay and make it really memorable.

First of all, at a bed and breakfast be sure to stay for breakfast! This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s natural to want to pack the most into your vacation or weekend stay in a new place. You want to see it all and do it all! But breakfast at a bed and breakfast is the main event. It’s integral to the whole experience of an inn versus a hotel. Of course there’s the food. One of the reasons people become innkeepers is because they love to cook and they love to present their guests with a beautiful plate that will make their inn stand out in the crowd. Most likely it is home cooked from scratch, many times from fresh local ingredients or even from the innkeeper’s own garden. It’s not at all unusual for an innkeeper to have culinary training in gourmet cooking or catering. You won’t be getting short order eggs and bacon! It’s going to be special.

Dining room table

Dining Room Table Set for Breakfast

Beyond just the delicious food is the experience of sharing your breakfast with the other guests. Depending upon how the individual inn handles breakfast, you will meet all or many of the other guests staying at the inn at the breakfast table. I’ve always felt that this is where the magic happens! People from all different regions of the country or the world, with totally different backgrounds, ages and in different stages of their lives come together over a good meal. Connections are made, discoveries are shared and conversation flourishes. It’s definitely worth scheduling that tour a little later in the day. Most B&Bs will post the time(s) they serve breakfast on the website. If not be sure to ask!

Another thing that helps to make your breakfast a wonderful experience is to share any dietary restrictions or things you don’t eat for breakfast with your innkeeper well in advance of your arrival. That way you’re sure to get a breakfast that will be enjoyable for you. There’s no need to feel uncomfortable about not eating when everyone around you is enjoying the meal. Innkeepers want to prepare a meal you’ll relish, so don’t be afraid to ask them to leave out the onions or bacon on yours. Some restrictions, like not being able to eat dairy or eggs take time to prepare for or may involve buying special ingredients so be sure to let your hosts know well in advance. If they aren’t able to accommodate you they will let you know, but most innkeepers are adept at special meals.

The LAAFF Festival on Lexington Avenue

Shopping in Asheville

Pick your innkeeper’s brain about things to do, places to eat and must see attractions in their area. The Internet is great about advertising these things, but the locals know what’s really good or what’s all hype. They can help you find what you will like, not just what’s popular. An innkeeper is also used to being a concierge. They can get you a reservation, schedule a tour, and sometimes get you a little extra special care at places they know well. Plus they know the shortcuts that your GPS won’t tell you!

Be sure to make use of the common areas. There usually are menus available for area restaurants and brochures on things to do and see. It’s also a great opportunity to socialize with other guests and find out what they’ve enjoyed doing in the area.

Pick your room carefully. This isn’t going to be like a hotel, where the rooms are basically the same with different prices for different size beds. Each room in a B&B is unique, just like those in any home. Each has its own décor, some frilly and filled with antiques and others more masculine or modern. Some are large suites and some are cozy nooks. You may have a shower but no bath or a jetted tub with no shower. Pick what you like and what is important to you. Don’t judge a room just by its price. A less expensive room may not be a value if it doesn’t have the amenities you want. Photos will make the room look as good as possible so don’t be afraid to ask how large the room is, how many windows it has or where in the house it’s located. Having expectations that are based on as much information as possible will help you avoid disappointment. Staying at a B&B should be a delight!

For more tips on your first stay at a B&B see our whole series:

  1. First Time at a Bed & Breakfast?
  2. First Time at a Bed and Breakfast? What Can I Expect at Breakfast-time?
  3. First Time at a Bed and Breakfast? What are the amenities like at a B&B?
  4. First Time at A B&B – Bed and Breakfast Etiquette: Reservations and Cancellations
  5. First Time at A B&B – Bed and Breakfast Etiquette: Should I leave a tip at a B&B?
  6. First Time at A B&B – Bed and Breakfast Etiquette: Breakfast Etiquette.
  7. First Time at A B&B – Bed and Breakfast Etiquette: Whispering and Tiptoeing around the Museum!
  8. First Time at a B&B Series: Giving up Control

First Time at a B&B Series: Giving up Control

July 11th, 2012 by abedofroses

Woman in Doubt

Worried about your B&B visit?

Let’s face it. Innkeepers aren’t supposed to say this but there are some guests that are just “difficult”. You can usually tell from the first phone call. They may demand answers to what seem like a million questions or call into question the innkeeper’s basic policies or ways of operating. But it’s not their fault. They aren’t trying to be difficult just to ruin our day. Coming to a B&B requires a leap of faith. You do need to give up control over many things that are basic to your day-to-day life, and that’s not always easy. The first thing to remember is that your innkeeper wants you to have a wonderful time at their B&B and they will go out of their way to ensure that, to a point. An inn’s policies may seem arbitrary from the outside looking in, but there are usually good reasons for them. Things like when you drink your first cup of coffee or what you eat for breakfast may have to be determined by the innkeeper. Your habit of an egg over easy every morning at 6AM may have to be broken if your B&B’s kitchen isn’t set up for short order cooking. On the plus side, you’re likely to trade that familiar breakfast for a two or three course gourmet treat served at 9AM! You may not be able to check into your room as soon as you arrive from out of town. Unlike a hotel, there may not be a “desk staff” that is there 24 hours. When you do check in, however, you’re likely to meet the owners in person and get advice on what to see and do in their town, as well as being personally welcomed into their home. You give to get.

Here are some things that you can do that will avoid head-butting with your hosts and make your stay an enjoyable and stress-free one.

Find out what an inn’s policies are. They are usually posted on the website and most B&Bs will include those policies in their reservation confirmation email.

Decide for yourself what you’re willing to give up control of and what you’re not, then shop around for an inn that can accommodate you. Some inns have multiple seatings for breakfast and others can’t do that. Some can take pets and others can’t. Don’t choose an inn that can’t possibly accommodate you and try to force them to make an exception for you. It’s akin to trying to change a spouse after the wedding. Better to pick one you like to begin with!

That being said, if you’re not sure how flexible a policy is, contact the B&B’s owners. Communication is the key! Some may offer an early continental breakfast for those who can’t stay for the larger meal and a phone call or email to the innkeeper can clarify that. This is also true for special diets. Most will do their best to accommodate dietary restrictions, but always check with them in advance. It may require the innkeeper to adapt the menu for the rest of their guests or to make a special trip to the store. If the website says check-in is between 4 and 6PM and you just can’t get out of work early enough to make that, give them a call. They may or may not be able to check you in later depending on the inn.

Check on-line reviews. If you’re afraid of being given an unfamiliar breakfast and all the reviews rave about the food it may make giving up control of that part a little easier. You can have faith that there will be something on the table you will like. Reviews can also give you a sense of how accommodating the innkeepers are and what to expect from the rooms.

Remember that the innkeeper is on your side! They really do want you to enjoy your visit.

innkeepers bill and emily

A Bed of Roses innkeepers, Emily and Bill

 

First Time at A B&B – Bed and Breakfast Etiquette: Whispering and Tiptoeing around the Museum!

July 11th, 2011 by abedofroses

Fragile museum specimens sign

Should I be afraid to touch?

This is the latest in our series, First Time at a Bed and Breakfast?

Many if not most B&Bs are in antique homes. Old houses have a charm that you just can’t get anywhere else. Old homes may not always be as soundproof as we might like, however. That doesn’t mean you have to tiptoe around or whisper in your room! Enjoy your visit!  Just be considerate of the guests in adjoining rooms. Be aware of how high your TV volume is and realize that yelling or other loud noises probably will be heard by others. Many inns, like ours, have “white noise” radios to help you sleep over the creaks and sounds of old houses and your neighbors. Just don’t expect the sounds of the “rainforest” to drown out your full blast late night sports extravaganza on ESPN.

These old houses are usually your innkeeper’s home as well, filled with their antiques and linens and collectables. Accidents happen and things break and spills occur. It’s okay. Innkeepers expect this, so please don’t try to hide it. As you would, if visiting friends, let your host know as soon as possible of a mishap so they can try to get that stain out while they still have a chance or fix that broken chair before the next guest sits in it!

lace on a table

Try not to spill red wine on the antique lace!

If something malfunctions or you don’t know how to use it, just ask. It’s okay, really! That being said, all innkeepers hope that you will use common sense in trying to prevent damage to their home or furnishings. Cleaning your car window with the monogrammed bath towels or leaving your dripping red wine bottle on the embroidered dresser scarf might not be appreciated. Your innkeeper will be more than happy to provide you with a rag or a coaster. Just ask.

Courtesy and clear communication are really synonymous, especially at an inn. It is our responsibility to communicate clearly about what we expect of and offer our guests. We expect that our guests will be clear in asking for what they need to make their visits enjoyable. Neither of us are mind-readers! We ask that if something isn’t right you let us know so that we can have an opportunity to make it right. That may not always be possible, but we will do our best. If you haven’t given the innkeeper an opportunity to address your concerns it is truly the worst etiquette to later write a poor review of the property. If an innkeeper does not treat your complaints with courtesy and concern, a poor review is warranted! And don’t forget to write good reviews when you’ve had a great experience at a B&B. A good review is the best thank you note.

 

First Time at A B&B – Bed and Breakfast Etiquette: Breakfast Etiquette.

July 6th, 2011 by abedofroses

Table setting

Table setting at A Bed of Roses

This is the latest in our series, First Time at a Bed and Breakfast?

Breakfast etiquette is also different at a B&B. Unlike a hotel restaurant, the small staff at a B&B dictates specific times for service and limitations on how many different dishes are available. Many B&Bs have one or two set seatings and all the guests are served the same meal. Sometimes there are multiple courses and preparation takes a great deal of time. Preparation may even begin the night before. Please let your host know in advance if you will not be there for breakfast! There are few things worse than preparing a gourmet meal that you have to throw in the garbage! If breakfast is served at a set time, please be there on time. It is inconsiderate to make the other guests wait for your arrival while the food gets cold. Most innkeepers will serve at the appointed time whether you are there or not. They have no way of knowing when or if you will arrive, so they may or may not try to keep your breakfast warm for you.

It is also very important to notify your innkeeper as soon as you are able if you require a special diet. Most B&Bs are glad to accommodate dietary restrictions, but this takes planning. The best time to let them know of dietary requirements is when you make your reservation. We also ask guests when they check in if they just don’t care for some foods. We want to give you a meal that you will rave about, but we can’t read minds. If you don’t care for waffles or onions, we want to know about it!

Breakfast at a B&B also calls for being considerate of the other guests. One of the treats of staying at a bed and breakfast is meeting and eating breakfast with all sorts of other people. It’s not like an anonymous hotel or restaurant. It’s best to use common sense when engaging in breakfast conversation with other guests. Like a family gathering, no one wants strife while enjoying a meal together. Almost always, breakfast is an enjoyable social event and many times it’s hard for us to get our guests to leave the table and let us clean up!

Look for our next installment on the dos and don’ts of staying at a B&B: Whispering and tiptoeing around the “museum”!

 

 

First Time at A B&B – Bed and Breakfast Etiquette: Should I leave a tip at a B&B?

June 27th, 2011 by abedofroses

Inn Housekeeper

Should I tip the maid?

This is the latest in our series, First Time at a Bed and Breakfast?

Tipping is a touchy subject for some people. The unwritten rules about who to tip and how much seem incomprehensible at times. Sometimes it seems like every time you turn around someone wants a tip! Who gets a tip at a B&B is pretty clear though. Innkeepers and their family NO, housekeepers unrelated to the innkeeper YES, if deserved! Here is why:

Innkeepers are the owners of the business and the proceeds of the business are their reward. Tipping your innkeepers is not expected and in many inns it is prohibited. Your best reward for a good experience in a B&B is a good online review and recommendations to your friends.

Tipping the housekeeper is another matter altogether! Find out if your innkeeper hires help to clean. If so, the same tipping guidelines apply to staying at an inn as they do in a hotel. Housekeepers work behind the scenes, before you arrive and after you leave as well as tidying up your room during your stay. They do backbreaking work and are at the low end of the pay scale. Like waiters and waitresses, tips are an important part of their income and can make a big difference in their lives.

How to leave a tip and how much should you leave:

Many inns that hire housekeepers allow them to put out envelopes in the rooms for tips. If you want to tip a housekeeper, never just leave cash or change out on a dresser for him or her without labeling it clearly as a tip for their service. A maid has to be very careful about taking money out of a room, even and empty one. If an envelope hasn’t been provided, ask your innkeeper for one or use a folded sheet of plain paper clearly labeled.

How much do you tip? That’s the hard part. In practice it varies widely and is at your discretion. Most hotel guidelines indicate that maid’s tips should be about $3-5 per night for a luxury hotel and $1-2 per night for an average hotel. Most B&Bs these days fit into the “luxury” category. If you were not happy with the cleanliness of your room, by all means, you are not expected to tip for bad service! On the other hand, if she went above and beyond, getting extra amenities or towels for you or going out of her way to make you comfortable feel free to leave a little more. Some guidelines say tip daily, since the same housekeeper may not clean your room every day. At our inn, the housekeeper puts the envelope out on the last day of your visit.

Look for our next installment on the dos and don’ts of staying at a B&B: Breakfast etiquette.

 

 

 

First Time at A B&B – Bed and Breakfast Etiquette: Reservations and Cancellations

June 20th, 2011 by abedofroses

This is the latest in our series, First Time at a Bed and Breakfast?

Proper Manners

Proper Etiquette at a B&B

People considering a B&B for the first time usually have lots of questions about what to expect. They also have lots of questions about what is expected of them! A Bed and Breakfast is not a hotel, but does that mean that you should act differently than you do at a hotel? There are a few differences that you should take note of.

Acting with courtesy and respect should, of course, be your guide wherever you’re staying. That goes for your innkeeper as well. They should treat all of their guests as they would like to be treated when traveling, respecting their privacy and doing their best to fulfill guest requests. At the very least an innkeeper should ensure a safe, clean and comfortable place to stay. They should also ensure that their policies and expectations are clear and stated on their website and/or in their rooms. Inn policies usually involve things like check-in and check-out times, smoking (almost always prohibited), cancellations, or whether children or pets are allowed. When you make a reservation at a B&B you make a commitment to abide by those policies!

Most of the differences between behavior in a hotel and a Bed and Breakfast have to do with size and the fact that you are probably staying in someone’s home.

When making a reservation by phone, remember that not all inns are large enough to have front desk staff. The person taking your reservation most likely is the same one waking up before dawn to prepare your breakfast! It is considerate to not to call late in the evening or during the time that your host is serving breakfast to his or her current guests.

This is also why check-in and check-out times may vary from a regular hotel. It is especially important at a B&B to try to let your innkeeper know what time you are arriving. They plan their day according to their guests’ arrival and departure times. Late arrivals can be difficult for an innkeeper since they start their work-day so early in the morning. Of course, sometimes late arrivals can’t be helped, so be sure to call the innkeeper if you are unavoidably delayed or your circumstances change. They will appreciate it tremendously! Be sure to check out by the designated time as well. This not only allows the housekeeper time to prepare your room for the next guest, it allows your innkeeper the time to do whatever errands need to be done outside the inn before check-ins arrive! Many inns will allow you to leave your car there while you continue to enjoy the area on your last day. They may even allow you to leave your bags in a storage area for pickup at a designated time later in the day.

Read the inn’s cancellation policies carefully. When you make your reservation you are agreeing to them. Unlike a large hotel, B&Bs cannot easily absorb the cost of last minute cancellations or no shows. They may have turned down many reservation requests in order to ensure that a particular room is there for you. They can’t shuffle people from room to room as they show up, like a hotel where all the rooms are identical. Beyond the financial burden of a “no show”, the innkeeper may have skipped important events or waited up late at night for a guest that doesn’t show up or have the courtesy to call. Innkeepers have their own lives including errands and responsibilities, including those to their families and other guests.

Look for our next installment on the dos and don’ts of staying at a B&B: Do I need to leave a tip?

 

 

 

 

 

First Time at a Bed and Breakfast? What are the amenities like at a B&B?

May 13th, 2011 by abedofroses

Jacuzzi in the Turret Suite

Jacuzzis and plush robes

This is the latest in our series, First Time at a Bed and Breakfast?

People considering a B&B for the first time usually have lots of questions about what to expect.

One of the most common questions is “will I have my own bathroom?” Over 97 percent of the time innkeepers provide a private bath in some if not all rooms, according to PAII, the Professional Association of Innkeepers International. 94% of all Bed and Breakfast rooms have private baths. In fact, many inns have luxury items such as Jacuzzis, like we do at A Bed of Roses. The inn’s website should indicate whether a bath is shared or not and don’t be shy about asking. Each room at a B&B is likely to have different amenities, including the size, shape and type of bathroom. Premium branded toiletries are almost always provided in your bath as are robes. Some inns even offer their luxurious robes for sale.

“Can I get a king-size bed?” Each inn and each room is likely to offer different choices. Those furnished entirely with antiques, like ours, are unlikely to have king-size beds. They just didn’t exist in Victorian times. Most antique beds in B&Bs have been modified to be able to accommodate queen size mattresses. Many inns furnished with reproduction antiques or new furniture will offer king-size beds. Most inns will offer luxurious bedding and linens. The room photos will give you a hint of what is to come. The bedding should look inviting and plush.

Fireplace at A Bed of Roses

Curl up by the Fireplace with a good book!

Your room will most likely have a TV, and some sort of internet connection. Nearly 90% of B&Bs offer free wireless internet according to BedandBreakfast.com surveys. At A Bed of Roses, we provide free WiFi throughout the house. Or you may just want to curl up by the fire. Many inns, like ours, have fireplaces in the rooms or in some of the common areas. Books, magazines, newspapers and board games are commonly available, as are brochures, menus from area restaurants and maps.

B&Bs come in all different sizes and architectural style. Typically they have 4 to 11 guest rooms, with 6 being the average. Inns and B&Bs are frequently historic properties with unique architecture, adding to the charm and variety of the amenities. According to PAII 36% have some sort of historical designation granted by historic preservation organizations. Your inn may have a story to tell!

 

First Time at a Bed and Breakfast?

April 10th, 2011 by abedofroses

Inn furnishings

A quiet corner at A Bed of Roses

First Time at a Bed and Breakfast?

We consider ourselves very lucky that so many of our guests are experiencing a B&B for the first time. We get to be ambassadors for the whole bed and breakfast industry! We also get to hear first hand how surprised and delighted first timers are with the experience.

This is the first of a series giving tips, advice, and overall information to help you make the most of your first time staying at a bed and breakfast or small inn. You’ll find that once you’ve stayed in a bed and breakfast you’ll never want to stay anywhere else!

“… A Bed of Roses was our first B&B experience and we loved everything about our stay. The breakfasts were fabulous and we appreciate your hospitality and attention to detail.”

BN

Mooresville, NC

What can you expect at a B&B?

A bed and breakfast is NOT a hotel, and that’s a GOOD thing! When you come to a small inn all the rooms are unique with different amenities and different rates. If you call an innkeeper and ask “What are your rates” you are often in for a long explanation and a list of numbers that seem to be all over the place! The inn’s website will almost always have photos of the different rooms and list their rates, so even if you prefer to talk to an innkeeper in person, going to the website first can give you a good starting point. You will know which rooms appeal to you, which ones are more expensive than you want or have that special tub or sitting room you need or would just love to have. Then the innkeeper can answer any questions and give you a “feel” for the place.

The common areas and rooms are often furnished with antiques, fine linens and bedding and are decorated beautifully. Unlike a hotel, where furniture and even art is the same in every room in every city, every room will have different décor and many of the things around you are not easily replaceable. You are a guest in someone’s home.

Yes, most innkeepers live somewhere on the premises and the inn is their home. Having the owner/innkeeper on the premises is one of the things that makes staying at a bed and breakfast special. How many times has the owner of a big hotel greeted you at the door by name? The innkeeper will pay attention to the little details that will make your stay special. Even though the owners live in the inn and take personal pride in the home, it is an industry standard for innkeepers to have separate living quarters from their guests and there is never any reason to feel you are intruding upon their private space. Most innkeepers choose to mingle with their guests in the common areas, but when they want privacy they have their private quarters, just as you do as guests. We value our guests’ privacy. All rooms in our B&B have private baths and private doors with locks.

What about breakfast? A B&B is also NOT a restaurant and we think that’s a good thing too! Stay tuned for our “Breakfast Edition” on what to expect at your B&B when morning comes around.

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