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How Did You Get Stuck In The Hotel Habit?

Submitted by: Debra Fortosis

It’s certainly not the newest news flash out there, but it might as well be. For hundreds of millions of people all the lodging they’ve ever heard about is hotels. A hotel is just a cookie cutter place with a TV, and a bathroom, and a lumpy bed where you sleep. By now you should be familiar with inns and bed and breakfasts. They’re great for an anniversary, honeymoon, or getaway weekend, and if you book at the right time of the year, they’re not any more expensive than a fine hotel—maybe even a little less. Understanding what they offer and the pros and cons of choosing them over a traditional hotel room is key to making sure your stay is both delightful and memorable.

Though some may think of inns and bed and breakfasts as associated with New England, they are actually located throughout our nation—indeed, throughout the world. (However, if you love New England, Google Cliff Calderwood for the specialist on that part of the nation). B & Bs and Inns are often gorgeous, historic homes full of antiques and unique furnishings. In some parts of the country and internationally the term ‘inn’ is more loosely used in describing a place to rest your head for the night and then move on.

These establishments are delightful but they may not be for everybody. Below is sort of a checklist you can use to see if they are for you:

What’s the Difference Between Bed & Breakfasts and Inns?

Let’s start by clearing up any confusion on the differences between the two. It’s not so much in the name as how they advertise themselves.

First, there’s rarely any difference in accommodation. The character of a bed and breakfast can be every bit as good as the charm of an inn. The difference is in the prepared meals. A bed and breakfast is just that… expect a bed… and a full, fabulous breakfast. However, you’re on your own for dinner. On the contrary, inns are set-up to provide dinner as well, although it’s usually an option, and not included in the quoted price. The description will usually be very clear if dinner is offered. But assume it’s just bed and breakfast if nothing is mentioned.

In many areas of the world, inns and bed and breakfasts are also called guesthouses. If at all possible, ask to see a picture of the place, or visit their website. A lot can be assumed from a photograph of your potential accommodation.

Is There a Check-in or Check-out Time?

You can pretty much count on your hosts going out of their way to greet you when you check-in. Usually when you reserve you’ll be told when their normal check-in and check-out times are. But most can accommodate your arrival and departure outside those hours.

However it is important to let them know if you’ll be late arriving so they can arrange for you to gain entrance to the house (yes, the doors are locked after a certain hour), and to your room. It’s one thing to show up at midnight at your hotel (they’re staffed round the clock) but it is a very different matter to show up after 11:00pm at a bed and breakfast, and expect your host to climb out of bed and greet you with a wide-awake smile. After all, they’re going to be up with the dawn in the morning making you a breakfast you will never forget.

Are Prices at all Negotiable?

Unlike typical hotels, the room rate for inns is sometimes negotiable. As we’ve said the main difference is that, unlike a hotel, the person on the other end of the phone is usually the inn or B & B owner. They can make the decision without passing the buck. All you have to do is ask in a nice way.

Just remember the innkeeper may only have a few rooms to begin with anyway, and if their inn is almost full, then don’t be offended if they aren’t motivated to offer you a price reduction. On the other hand, one room of a five-room inn without a paying guest reduces a host’s profit by 25%. So it’s always worth asking whether they’re open to a discount!Are They Right for my Kids for my Pet?

Many inns and bed and breakfasts don’t accommodate young children or they place an acceptable age range on the kids. Sometimes the age and furnishings of the place are not appropriate for active, mischievous kids. But when an inn says kids are welcome, then you can assume they really mean they’re kid friendly. Now there’s nothing wrong with that (I have three grandkids myself), but don’t expect too a whole lot of peace and solitude.

If you’re carting your pet along on your trip, you should also make sure in advance that pets are allowed in the establishment. Nothing can ruin a week planned in various Bed & Breakfasts like learning too late that half of them do not allow pets.

What Kind of Service Should I Expect?

Staying in inns is different than staying at a hotel. A country inn is not like a Ritz-Carlton with staff scurrying here and there to provide numerous services. Often, there is only the wonderful couple who own the Bed & Breakfast. Though they are usually extremely hospitable, they cannot be treated like a maid or baggage carrier. Also, most of these historic homes do not have sound-proof walls. Having a party or playing loud music after 11:00pm won’t be welcome with your host or the other guests.

Remember… the innkeeper or host is there to give guests the posh serenity of a private, luxurious stay, but to do that they’ll need your understanding.

How Much Can I Save?

Most inns don’t have too much trouble booking their weekends or their popular season weeks or months in advance. For example, in New England the fall foliage season makes rooms a premium, and most are booked far in advance.

But outside these constraints filling the rooms at an inn during the week, particularly off-season, is much more difficult. You’ll get the best deals for bed and breakfasts traveling mid-week and out of season. Now contrast this with hotels that have the opposite problem. Since they cater to the mid-week business traveler, they cannot get people in rooms for weekends.

Other Things to Keep in Mind

Here’s a few extra tips once you’ve decided an inn or bed and breakfast is the right choice for you…

Be sure to get detailed directions to the inn because many are converted homes, blend in with the surroundings, and don’t have neon advertising signs like hotels. When you call, make sure you understand the cancellation polices as they are usually much more restrictive than hotels. And don’t forget your host is familiar with the area and can point you to attractions and restaurants not found on any tour guide or map.

My wife and I love staying in inns. They’ve a lot going for them. Inns are usually very affordable, offer tons more variety than a bland hotel room, and are a great way to meet fellow travelers or vacationers.

About the Author: Debra Fortosis is a professional travel agent. You can book travel on her user friendly website. She can even help you easily launch your own turnkey e-travel business.Register for a free monthly vacation giveaway!Book Travel:

Contact Debra: mndgetaways@comcast.netDebra also caters to baby boomers:


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