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What is a Bed & Breakfast Inn?

With Bed and Breakfast listings now available on the Internet, many who had not previously considered the Bed and Breakfast experience are wondering if it might be for them.

In order to help these B&B "newbies" learn more about the lifestyle, we asked some of the Innkeepers in THE REGISTER what “Frequently-Asked-Questions” they receive from potential guests and how they describe their B&B’s to those considering a stay. From their responses and others, we have assembled the following overview of Bed and Breakfast accommodations.

  • Jody Schmoll, innkeeper of the Blue Harbor House in Camden Maine tells us that first-time B&B travelers are concerned about room-size, bed-size & other amenities. They are wary about the unknown & want to be sure of what they will be getting. People who normally stay in franchise hotel/motel properties know exactly what they will be getting. There is no unknown and the Holiday Inn chain used to actually advertise “No Surprises.” Many travelers, however, enjoy novelty and pleasant surprises at least occasionally and this is what has led to the exceptional growth of Bed and Breakfast accommodation.

    “B&B's are unique in every way -- architecture, decor, amenities and the genuine hospitality of the innkeeper. There is no easy way to measure this type of lodging. We are always pleased at check-out time when guests comment that they've never stayed at a B&B before and how wonderful their stay was. Their excitement about going on to experience other properties in their travels is the most rewarding thing about being an innkeeper.”

    Many would-be guests are concerned about privacy. Many B&B’s do offer shared baths but most also have rooms with private baths. Many are en-suite or connected to your room. As the B&B concept continues to develop, the private bath becomes more standard and there are fewer accommodations where baths are shared. If you don’t mind a shared bath you likely will save considerably on your room rate. If you require a private bath, you will find such accommodations plentiful everywhere.

    The same is true of conversation. Breakfast can usually be taken in a communal dining area, or some private nook or, if you prefer, delivered to your room. The choice is yours and the listing for the B&B will describe the breakfast service it provides. Privacy and solitude, like sociability and conversation are almost always available in equal measure and can be experienced at the discretion of the guest.

  • Clark Deihl operates the B & B reservation service in Cape Cod. He has provided us with some of his observations as we further explore the concept of Bed & Breakfast.

    “As a reservation service with more than 100 locations, we get all kinds of questions. . . “One of the frequent question is: ‘Am I going to be staying in someone’s house????’”

    The answer, of course, is yes, very likely you will be staying in someone’s house, but there are as many different styles of B&B’s as there are private homes themselves. When you contact a reservation service or when you browse through B&B listings such as THE REGISTER, you will be choosing exactly the type of establishment in which you would like to stay.

    There are gingerbread houses, tiny and homey, with two or three rooms available. There are sprawling ranch style homes in the Rockies, Multi-storied town homes in large cities. There are farms and cottages, adobe villas, log cabins and even lighthouses as well as many stately mansions, often in the Register of Historic Places. This variety is part of the thrill, the romance and the charm of the B&B experience.

    The bed and breakfast as a concept, began in Europe and started as overnight lodging in a private home. In the British Isles the old phrase “Bed-and- Breakfast,Two-and-Six” came from the standard price of the lodging; (ie: 2 shillings and sixpence). The sign was often displayed the front lawn of the home. Today, budget accommodations in B&B’s can be had for as little as $30 while luxury Bed and Breakfasts can be found for $300 or more per night.

    The bed and breakfast designation is sometimes erroneously used by hotels and motels, or other less personal establishments to capitalize on the concept. Be sure when you contact an advertised B&B that the unique personal experience of a B&B property is what you will be getting.

    A true bed and breakfast is an accommodation with the owner living on the premises (or nearby) who provides a clean, attractive accommodation plus a breakfast, (usually a memorable one). The host also offers to help the guest with directions, restaurants, suggestions for local entertainment or sightseeing. The B&B host takes a sincere interest in making their guest’s visit a success, creating a personalized kind of accommodation for people seeking an alternative to the anonymous hotel-style setting.

    Bed and breakfast’s are not necessarily for everyone. Standard hotel/motel amenities may not be present. Some B&B’s have a pool, most do not. (Although a large number now offer in-room whirlpools or out-door hot tubs). Each B&B will be different which is part of the charm and the pleasure of staying in them. Today the concept has grown to include some very expensive and wonderful stately homes with superb antiques and gourmet fare.

    The more standardized our surroundings become, the more attractive the B&B experience becomes. To stay in a Victorian mansion with a manicured garden on a tree-lined city street one night and in a rambling farmhouse complete with ducks and chickens the next, is an antidote to regimentation. Fresh flowers, broad lawns, leisurely, deliciously prepared breakfasts and hosts who pamper you with personal care -- this is what awaits those who try the Bed and Breakfast style of vacation and travel.

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