In your dream bed and breakfast, you’ll be greeted by the charming and gorgeous couple that owns the home. They obviously love each other deeply and want nothing more than to share their good fortune with their guests – everyone of whom will become a lifelong friend.
Your room is beautifully decorated, creating a mood of calm and luxury. In the evening, perfectly chilled wine awaits you on the simply but charmingly furnished porch, from where you watch the sunset as you gently swing in the rocker that hundreds of other happy couples have shared.
Well, this idyllic picture really does exist, but it’s by no means guaranteed. If you’re unlucky, the bed and breakfast you reserve from hundreds of miles away will turn out to be a shabbily furnished wreck – freezing and damp in the winter, hot and stuffy in the summer – with rude owners made miserable by the relentless daily drudgery of serving unhappy guests.
To avoid that unfortunate scenario here are some of the questions to ask before you book, in order to enjoy a wonderful bed and breakfast getaway.
– Where is the bed & breakfast located?
While they may be found almost anywhere, from a busy New York apartment building to an isolated cabin in Montana, most bed and breakfasts are in smaller towns that are popular with tourists. Would you prefer to stay in the center of town, close to restaurants, galleries, shops, and other attractions? Remember though, that even small towns can be quite busy at night, especially those that rely on the tourist trade to fill their restaurants, bars, and coffee shops. A bed and breakfast on Main Street may be too noisy for your tastes.
Perhaps you’d rather be on the outskirts of town, where you can enjoy the quiet and peace of small-town life. The downside of this, however, is that a location some distance from town may be inconvenient if you don’t have a car with you.
– Does my room have a private bath?
They’re becoming rarer, but it’s still possible to find yourself in a bed and breakfast where you must share a bath with other guests. If that’s an unappealing thought, be sure to ask if your room has a private bathroom.
– What kind of breakfast is provided?
Almost by definition, you can expect to enjoy breakfast during your stay. But different hosts may have different ideas of what constitutes a good breakfast. You should ask whether to expect a continental breakfast of baked goods, coffee and juice, or a full breakfast which will include hot dishes. Now is also the time to mention any dietary restrictions – allergies, vegetarian, medical etc. – and whether your hosts can accommodate them.
– Are pets welcome in the bed & breakfast?
It’s not common, but some bed and breakfasts will accommodate your pet. If so, you should be sure to check which rooms animals may enter; what restrictions you should be aware of; and if any additional fees are required.
And conversely, those of us who are allergic to dogs, cats, or other pets should make certain that the bed and breakfast doesn’t allow animals of any sort. There’s nothing pleasant about wheezing and sniffling your way through a romantic weekend.
– When is check-in, and check-out?
Unlike hotels, bed and breakfasts don’t have registration desks staffed at all hours. Clarify when you should arrive, since most hosts prefer to greet their guests personally and make sure that they’re settled comfortably. Check in is likely to be in the late afternoon or early evening. And if you need to leave early to catch a flight, or to set out on a full-day outing, be sure to ask about checking out, settling your bill, and perhaps even taking a simple packed breakfast or snack for the road.
Staying in a bed and breakfast is a lovely way to pamper yourself, to see a town from the inside, and to relax in a cozy and comfortable environment. By checking some basic issues before you travel, you can be sure that your trip will be the special experience you’re hoping for.