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Bed and Breakfast Inns

Learn about the services typical of bed and breakfast inns.

Using the word "typical" to describe one of the many bed and breakfast inns scattered throughout the world is a challenge, as many offer vastly different experiences. More often than not, a bed and breakfast (also called a B&B) is a part of a private home that is separate from the personal living quarters. Bed and breakfast inns vary in the number of rooms available for rent. Smaller inns may rent just one room and offer a much more private and personal experience than a larger B&B.

Bed and breakfast inns take many different forms, from houses near major tourist attractions, such as ski resorts and beaches, to B&Bs that are housed in old airplanes, missile silos, lighthouses, converted churches and more. Regular homes also serve as B&Bs, some with a theme such as Victorian or colonial. Definitely a departure from the typical hotel, bed and breakfast inns serve both business and recreational travelers. With so many to choose from, there seems to be a B&B to suit almost any interest.

What to Expect at Bed and Breakfast Inns

Personal service and a cozy atmosphere are the hallmarks of a bed and breakfast inn. While many people look forward to getting to know other guests while staying at a B&B, privacy and an intimate environment are easy to find as well. Since B&Bs typically offer a more intimate atmosphere than a hotel, many business travelers are gravitating toward B&Bs as a way to feel at home even when they're away from home.

B&Bs usually have rooms that can accommodate any type of traveler, offering rooms with twin, queen and king-sized beds. Some rooms have private baths, while others share a hall bath with other guests. Noting the privacy level of the bathroom is important when researching bed and breakfast inns. Rooms with private baths tend to be slightly more expensive than ones that share a bathroom. Guest rooms may or may not have televisions and phones.

Many B&Bs feature rooms that have names instead of room numbers. For example, some rooms may be named after the view patrons will enjoy from the room, the room's color scheme or on local places of interest.

Service at Bed and Breakfast Inns

Innkeepers pride themselves on a high level of service and frequently have arrangements with local points of interest, which allows them to offer discount tickets to local attractions. Innkeepers are usually a good resource for local restaurants, and can often provide sample menus for guests to view when choosing a restaurant.

Check in at a bed and breakfast differs from that of a hotel, in that the proprietors usually like to know what time patrons plan to arrive so that they can make sure someone is there to welcome the guest. Many B&Bs operate as a family business, so grocery shopping and picking up children from school are all things that they must work around while expecting guests. After-hours arrivals usually can be accommodated with advance notice.

Part of the charm of some B&Bs is a supply of snacks available to guests at no extra charge. Often, proprietors host cocktail hours each day with free beer and wine, or an afternoon tea complete with small sandwiches and pastries. Owners are eager to make the visit of each and every patron an enjoyable one, as word of mouth is often the best form of advertising.

Breakfast is leisurely and large at most B&Bs, although something light and quick can usually be arranged as well. Breakfast is often served during a specific window of time. The full-service breakfast is something that most patrons look forward to, with menus as varied as the inns. Omelets, French toast, fresh fruit, home-baked breads and pastries are just a few of things a B&B might serve.

Etiquette Issues for Bed and Breakfast Inns

Since B&Bs are, in most cases, also the homes of the innkeepers, special rules of etiquette should be followed. Phone calls to the inn should be made only during normal business hours, except in an emergency. In some inns, the doors are locked after a certain hour, while in others, keys or pass codes may be given to guests so that they may come and go as they please. Guests should have consideration for the innkeepers and other guests by being quiet during late hours.

B&Bs pride themselves on their atmosphere and peacefulness, and thereby cater to a more adult crowd. Many don't allow children under a certain age. Pets are often not permitted, and smoking is confined to outside spaces. Bed and Breakfast Travel recommends confirming the policies of the B&B in order to avoid an uncomfortable situation upon arrival.

Breakfast is usually served at a specific time, with a chef's choice dining experience. The innkeepers should be informed of any dietary concerns or allergies at the time of reservation so that special arrangements can be made. While attendance at breakfast certainly isn't mandatory, the innkeepers will expect all guests for breakfast unless otherwise notified.

The antiques that many B&Bs pride themselves on are obviously more valuable than the furniture found in most hotels. Treating these pieces gently, such as the use of coasters under glasses, is always appreciated. Accidents of any kind, such as spilling wine on a bedspread, should be reported to the proprietors right away. Moving furniture in a guest room, however more convenient it may make things, is discouraged.

Guests are often curious about other guest rooms within a B&B. While some B&Bs don't have locks on guest room doors, it's considered very rude to embark on a self-guided tour, even if other rooms are empty. Most innkeepers would prefer you ask for a tour, and are proud to show off their home.

Remembering that the vast majority of bed and breakfast inns are also the homes of the proprietors, it's best to ring the bell when first arriving at a B&B. While the proprietors are expecting guests, they don't expect them to let themselves in.

Many hosts graciously provide snacks, drinks and sometimes even alcoholic beverages at certain times of day. It's expected that this amenity won't be overused. Eating an entire plate of cookies or taking a bottle of wine to enjoy later isn't appreciated.

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