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