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Feb 22, 2014 04:36 PM

Advice from Those Who Have to Those Who Haven't...

...stayed at a Bed and Breakfast, that is. I am sure that I am not the only one on CH for whom, the closest they have come to staying at a B&B is watching old reruns of Newhart. So to those who have had the experience, what amenities do you look for? What do you expect/hope for/or find surprising yet pleasing?

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  1. Easy. I look for a decent room, quality bed and an above average breakfast at the communal table. I don't look for a chatty host unless interests intersect. Same holds true for fellow guests.

    When the planets align, all is bliss.

    5 Replies
    1. re: steve h.

      I thought I would back up my 30,000 foot generalizations with some ground level experiences.

      Martine inn in Pacific Grove, CA is my idea of what a B&B should be: comfortable rooms; stealth service of the highest order; beautiful accessories there to be used rather than admired (silver platters, silver wine coolers); above average food.

      The Mainstay in Cape May, New Jersey is another solid destination. Deb and I sailed into Cape May and found this gem of a B&B. Solid top to bottom.

      1. re: steve h.

        The old world inn in Napa CA is really a wonderful experience too. I try to stay there when wine tasting.

        There are some really great B&B's in CA.

      2. re: steve h.

        'When the planets align, all is bliss."

        Exactly. I've stayed in a few B&Bs in Vermont, and several in the Republic of Ireland. A couple of the small ones in Ireland were enjoyable, because I *did* want to be able to speak to the locals about touristing in their area (even though I had already done my research).

        I guess it's just what you are looking for.

        1. re: LindaWhit


          Ireland is its own B&B category. Very special.

          As always, diligence is key.

          1. re: steve h.

            While traveling around Ireland with my mom we often rolled the dice and just showed up at a b and b when we were tired of driving. I'd always ask to see the room and meanwhile mom would talk to the proprietress or partner. We had a series of code words when we decided it was a no go but more times than not we found friendly hospitality in Ireland's bnb's.

      3. It depends a bit on what your travel style is.

        I tend to travel on the budget end. Not youth hostels anymore - I want my own bedroom and bedding provided, and reasonable levels of cleanliness and security - but cost is a strong factor.

        I find that you get a more interesting, less generic place to stay for the price than if you stayed at a standard hotel. I'm not too picky about the level of the food - pastries and coffee is fine with me. I do find that your'e more likely to get free wi-fi and access to a computer at a low end B&B than an expensive chain hotel, but less likely to get A/C.

        Some of the highlights - small place Rome for 60 euros a night (shared bathroom), walking distance to attractions, with a basic breakfast, a kitchenette and a shabby-bohemian atmosphere. A lovely place in Napoli with a breakfast of pastries/cheese/fruit/coffee/juice/served in the room.
        A lovely, big airy room in an old, creaky floorboard house in Santiago, with a very hearty breakfast and an owner who didn't speak any English. A room furnished in antique style in the Black Forest with an extensive breakfast.

        1. This really varies.

          On the price, the location, and the type of B&B.

          And the biggest variable is this. Unlike a hotel, at a B&B you are essentially a guest at someone's home.

          And like all homes, each host will have different customs, rules and traditions, and as a guest at someone's home, one must be respectful and appreciative of that -- both as a courtesy and just because of its quirks.

          So before you book a B&B, call and ask what they offer, what they provide (both in terms of physical amenities and non-physical ones), and then call other B&Bs in the immediate area and compare and contrast.

          It would be both unfair and incorrect to generalize one set of "baseline must-haves" for all B&Bs.

          Hope that helps, and enjoy wherever you end up staying.

          1. We stay at B&B's a lot. We have had great experiences and really crappy experiences.

            I always ask about business hours, especially arrival/check in times.They are not hotels and open 24 / 7. Also, It is someone's home and they usually don't give you a key. We often want to go out for late dinner and drinks and not return until @10 to 12 midnight. I don't want to feel like I am disturbing or waking someone up.

            I really don't like a communal table for breakfast. We have had some bad experiences with them, more bad experiences than good. We choose to have a private breakfast if possible, or just a quick pastries and coffee breakfast over a communal table.

            1. B n Bs can be wonderful......or weird. I like anonymity and i'm not good at small talk with strangers before i'm properly caffinated.
              That said, the best b n b i've ever stayed at (aka maybe a dozen) would be the white swan in San Francisco- (
              )more like a small hotel than a home, with a wonderful afternoon wine and snacks, several small tables at breakfast with a great selection of housemade breads, muffins, fruits, etc... Very homey decor but spotless and well kept. And a good value for SF. I have no affiliation with them at all fyi.
              But now with
              the old b n b format may soon be obsolete.