By Jessica Russo
Yes, most hotels are "nice." But why stay in a uniform, cookie-cutter hotel when you can cozy up in a quaint, unique B&B?
There's nothing quite like waking up in an old, beautiful home and being greeted by a friendly local, holding a scrumptious breakfast. Turn in your electric key card and turn the knob open to homey, local living.
First, let's talk about hotel rooms: stark white bedding, some boring furniture, and a mass-produced art print on the wall, right? Now, let's talk about B&B rooms: charming little hideaways filled with character, tradition, and unique decor. Quirky trinkets, antique mirrors, and ornate wooden furniture? You betcha'. Hosts personally decorate the rooms of their B&Bs to make guests feel right at home. Many times, B&B rooms are even "themed." For instance, the "blue room" may be painted soothing hues of blues or the "rose room" might have a floral, tea-party-like feel. Usually, B&B rooms capture the history of their destination, and you may even feel like you're in an old mansion or museum. Of course, decor depends on the B&B, but you can always count on it being warm and homey.
Did you know that most B&Bs are actually restored buildings, old mansions, or historical homes? As a matter of fact, many are hundreds of years old! Sure, B&Bs don't usually have shiny new elevators or state-of-the-art fitness centers, but that's the charm of them. Staying in a B&B is like taking a step back in time and immersing yourself in the history of a destination! Take note of old architecture and antiques that fill the structure. Your host will be more than happy to share with you the history of your home away from home.
Innkeepers go the extra mile to make sure you're all comfy-cozy. Your host will always be available to help you when you need it. Not sure where to eat, what to see, or how to get somewhere? Simply ask. That's what they're there for! And the best part is, they will give you an authentic, local response. They know what's touristy and overpriced and what isn't. With their advice, you'll feel like a local! You might even catch yourself saying, "I feel like I really live here."
Since B&Bs are usually family-run, hosts want to make you feel like you're part of that family, even just for a few days. That being said, your host might offer you some extras to enhance your stay. They may lend you free dvds or books if it's raining, they might leave cookies for you to snack on, or they might even offer you a glass of wine in the evening while you chat about where to go for dinner. The home itself may have a secret garden or a working farm out back - you never know! It's the little surprises that make B&Bs so special.
I mean, come on - what's better than breakfast? How about a home-cooked breakfast of traditional favorites shared with friendly fellow travelers! This is a much-loved perk of staying in B&Bs. Nibble on scones with jam in England or savor the flavors of bacon and sausages in Ireland. Chat with your host and fellow travelers about your favorite sites over a cup of morning coffee or tea! With that being said, breakfast is not mandatory. If you'd like to try a local restaurant's breakfast, go for it! Did you have a few pints too many last night? Skip breakfast and sleep til noon. It's your vacation, and your hosts understand that.
Traveling with valuables can be unsettling. You're often told to hide precious items in your suitcase, use safes, and make copies of your passport, right? Well, at B&Bs, there are only a few people coming and going, and that makes them a lot more secure. With less going on, hosts can keep a much better eye on the property than the staff of a huge hundred-room hotel. Of course, always be cautious with your stuff, but rest easy knowing your innkeeper is looking out for you.