Bed, Breakfast, and Beyond

July 27th, 2010 by Mariah

Bed, Breakfast and Beyond

Time Magazine

“Americans have a wide array of lodgings to choose from when they take a vacation: high-rise hotels, rustic resorts, motels by the bay. Yet more and more people are flocking to bed-and-breakfast inns, the most old-fashioned homes away from home. Just 20 years ago, there were only 1,000 B and Bs, as they are nicknamed, scattered throughout the country. Today there are more than 28,000 serving more than 50 million guests each year.

What’s the appeal? Bed-and-breakfasts, often situated in elegant, historic homes, tap into everyone’s fantasy of living another life. Many have been lovingly renovated with period decorations, inviting visitors to step back in time. Others carry a theme throughout the house. Since on average they have only seven or eight rooms, they offer peace and quiet, a rare commodity in the average home.

The hosts, who nearly always live on the premises, provide plenty of coddling. They will recommend local attractions, help with dinner reservations, often provide an afternoon tea or glass of sherry–and, yes, prepare a delicious homemade breakfast.

Prices at bed-and-breakfasts, which average $104 to $133 a night, depending on the region, rival the rates of good hotels. While some 10,000 B and Bs are private homes in which the owners offer a room or two, most are serious businesses, complete with websites and toll-free numbers.

The clientele tends to be couples, most of them affluent and well educated. Most are tourists or people who are in town to visit family or to celebrate a special occasion. Bed-and-breakfasts are popular with many foreign travelers, mostly from Britain, Germany, Canada, France and Australia, who have grown up going to B and Bs in their own countries.

Bed-and-breakfasts are not for everyone though. Many do not welcome young children, since peace and quiet are selling points. Plus, B and Bs are known for their lovable resident cats or dogs, making them problematic for the allergy-prone. Although most have private baths–a quarter even have whirlpools–they are a poor choice for the antisocial.

Fortunately, it is easy to find out the particular idiosyncrasies of each establishment by visiting the inn’s website and then communicating with the owner via e-mail. B-and-B owners depend increasingly on the Internet to attract and book guests and to communicate with them before they arrive.”