Thinking of staying at a Lake Geneva B & B?
Ask any of the Innkeepers at Lazy Cloud and they will share that one of the most frequent comments they receive from departing guests is “I didn’t know staying at a B&B could be so wonderful”.
With that thought in mine, we thought we would take some time today and do a quick blog post on what you can expect when you stay at a B&B. The article below is taken from an article written by Peter Greenberg in 2008:
Is A Bed & Breakfast Stay Right for You?
If you’ve never stayed at a B&B, you may be envisioning the horrors of waiting in line to use the shower, making excruciating small talk over breakfast, or being ambushed by furniture festooned with doilies and cluttered with collector teacups.
But there’s no need to fear!
Inns are as unique as their owners, so there truly is something for everyone.
CHOOSING THE RIGHT B&B
According to Jay Karen, President and CEO of the Professional Association of Innkeepers International (PAII), guests need to do their research before booking a B&B online. “Check their Web site for user reviews, awards and any press coverage the inn might have gotten in consumer-related media. Also, some of the online directories (i.e. BedandBreakfast.com and iloveinns.com) come out with periodic awards for deserving inns. B&Bs that provide a link to their online reviews usually are proud of the quality their guests can expect.”
Karen also suggests considering following questions to make sure you get the experience you want:
- If you want a romantic getaway, do your innkeepers have special packages that meet your needs?
- Can they recommend the most romantic places to dine?
- Will you have the privacy you desire?
- Will children or pets be joining you on the trip? You should be sure to investigate the B&B’s policies, as many inns either do not allow pets or children under a certain age, or may charge a nominal fee.
- Ask your innkeeper what newspapers they get delivered to the inn.
- Do you prefer modern décor or to be surrounded by a bit of history?
- Are you OK with walking up a flight of stairs to get to your room? Be sure to know where in the inn your room is located. You can’t always glean this information from Web sites, so do not be afraid to call or email the innkeepers directly and share what you are hoping for.
According to Sandy Soule, editor of BedandBreakfast.com, one way to get the most out of your stay is to “get to know other B&B travelers. By talking to them, you’ll get insight into what made their stay special, and also some referrals for other B&Bs.”
Soule advises travelers to “make the most of your stay by being there as long as possible to enjoy complimentary benefits. Check in during the afternoon so you’ll have plenty of time to get advice on dinner and activities in the area. Most inns offer afternoon snacks and beverages, and some offer tea and/or wine and cheese in the evening.”
Most importantly, she recommends that you “talk with the innkeepers—ask about things to do—innkeepers are the ultimate concierges and they are what make a B&B personalized. Inns are often a reflection of the innkeepers’ personality too, so it’s fun to get to know the innkeepers to understand the artwork and the décor of the inn.”
Soule suggests to look for inns that are “owner-operated, [because] no one gives better advice about the area or can deal with problems quicker than a resident owner/innkeeper,” and recommends those that are “distinctive, since the best B&Bs are a delicious balance of the personal warmth of the innkeepers, the style and comfort of their inn, and the appeal of the setting itself.”
WHY GO B&B OVER A HOTEL
According to Soule, “While luxury B&Bs are not cheap, they are often a far better value than a hotel with the same room rate. If you place a value on all the ‘free’ benefits included in the cost of your stay at a bed and breakfast inn, you’ll be surprised how much you’re really getting.”
Some perks are that “local and toll-free calls are free at almost every B&B,” whereas “many hotels charge 50-75 cents for local calls and long distance rates are astronomical.”
Also, she points out that while you would have to pay for overpriced room service or have your breakfast at a restaurant if you stayed at a hotel, B&Bs provide a full breakfast (and sometimes you can request that they serve it in your room). Also, “many B&Bs stock soft drinks, coffee and tea makings, wine and beer, snacks, fresh fruit, cookies, candies, evening desserts, and sherry in a guest pantry or dining room, and occasionally right in guest suites—and these treats are usually free.”
According to Jay Karen, B&Bs boast a veritable list of advantages over a standard hotel:
- At a B&B, there is one concierge for a handful of guests, as opposed to one concierge for hundreds of guests.
- Many B&B guests feel more secure staying at B&Bs rather than hotels, because there are fewer people going in and out, and the innkeepers generally keep an eye on what’s going on at the property.
- Peace and quiet. Many B&Bs are not built next to freeways or busy downtown roads (although some are in the heart of urban areas).
- Homemade granola. Locally roasted coffee. Organic ingredients. These are some things you would more likely encounter at a B&B.
- Free high-speed Internet. Many inns these days offer complimentary Internet access, and many have a free “business station” for printing boarding passes or other documents.
- Luxury textiles—many inns have luxury bed linens and bathrobes for you to enjoy. Your typical off-the-freeway hotel doesn’t invest in this kind of luxury.
- Group get-togethers. Many innkeepers will allow groups to book the entire B&B for fun getaways, like board game weekends, girlfriend getaways, weddings, etc.
- Many pet-friendly B&Bs will welcome your four-legged friends with their own amenity baskets and plenty of places to take nice walks.
If you’re the kind who likes to mingle with your hosts, you may end up making some life-long friendships.
More than 75 percent of B&Bs are run out of historic homes. There’s something really neat about walking through the doorway of a well-maintained, hundred-year-old house.
Innkeepers, as owners of their properties, truly feel their patrons are guests, whereas the hotel staff is more likely to see patrons as customers. A subtle, but important difference.
THE QUIRKS OF BED AND BREAKFASTS, HOME AND AWAY
One of the many factors that make staying at a B&B more exciting than at a homogenized hotel is that each B&B is created out of and representative of its environment, so each place has its own character that give you a taste of local flavor and lifestyle.
For example, New England is densely populated with full-service “country inns,” which typically provide lunch and/or dinner, may have liquor licenses, and often offer warm cider in the afternoons. In Southern states, you’ll find plenty of antebellum mansions and probably eat “gourmet-style grits” with breakfast and sweet tea later in the day. Wisconsin inns are more likely to feature local cheeses, and in California, you can expect to enjoy organic, healthy local fare, possibly accompanied by local wines, or home-grown avocados and citrus. Additionally, many inns serve as showcases for regional artworks and handmade items.
B&B vary internationally as well: American B&Bs tend to be larger and run more like professional businesses, while those in Australia, the UK, and New Zealand are usually smaller family-run establishments. According to Soule, “in the U.S. they are more of an end in themselves, while in Europe they are more of a means to an end—affordable travel.”
Karen puts it another way: “Since Americans like to do things up big, we have developed the concept of larger B&Bs much more than in other countries, and have done much more to follow and promote professional standards of practice.”