Choosing the Best Bed and Breakfasts

If you're looking for charm and pampering, you may prefer to stay in a bed and breakfast instead of a hotel. Bed and breakfasts offer an entirely different experience than your typical hotel stay. However, not all B&Bs are created equal. You'll want to research your options before you book a stay to make sure you find the right bed and breakfast for your comfort and budget needs.

What Makes a Bed and Breakfast Special?
If you've never stayed in a bed and breakfast before, you may not realize the huge difference between a hotel room and a stay at a good B&B. While many hotels are comfortable and roomy, the vibe of most hotels is rather standardized. Most of the rooms in a hotel are decorated with mass-appeal, multi-customer furnishings made to endure the many rotating guests and the wide variety of clients that will frequent the hotel. Hotels offer privacy and anonymity, and you can usually trust a hotel chain to offer the same kind of room and service at each hotel in a chain.

Bed and breakfasts are unique and individualized. After all, you're staying in a room or suite in a house. The vibe of different B&Bs varies, but one thing you can count on is intimate interaction with the owner.

Most bed and breakfasts are historic or rustic homes which have been converted into guest rooms. You can expect the B&B to be located in a lovely setting, whether it be a charming farm house in the mountains or a Victorian home in the historic district of a city. Your stay should include breakfast (as assumed from the name), which is usually large and scrumptious. Most B&Bs invest in luxurious linens, beautiful décor and extravagant extras you wouldn't get at most hotels.

Choosing a B&B That's Right For You
You'll want to do a little research before you book a stay and make sure the B&B you choose is exactly what you're looking for. Answer these questions to guide you in your search for the perfect bed and breakfast:

What Experience are you Seeking?
Ask yourself what exactly you want to experience while on vacation. Do you need the B&B to be set in a bustling town where you can walk to shops and dining options, or do you want to relax for the entire weekend without leaving the B&B? Your needs will vary according to your expectations. Are you looking for a place to walk, contemplate life and write? Or are you looking for a place to explore, investigate and experience new things?

Is the Location Appealing?
Once you've determined what experience you desire, make sure the bed and breakfast will provide that experience. Some bed and breakfasts are secluded and have advantages such as miles of walking and running paths through the woods, complete gourmet meals offered for lunch and dinner (in addition to that expected breakfast) and large suites or common areas and patios where you can relax without leaving the premises. Others are located in the centers of bustling cities or historic towns where you can walk out the door and explore new cultural and historic experiences.

Request Photos
Any reputable B&B will have photos of every room they offer. Because the rooms will vary in size, amenities and price, make sure you get to see what the rooms look like before you book. Many B&Bs deliberately decorate each room differently in order to offer a variety of experiences and prices to fit different price ranges. Do you like the décor? Does the room look big enough? Does it look well-kept? Visual appeal is a huge reason to choose a B&B, so make sure you choose a room that works for you.

Ask About the History of the Bed and Breakfast
Find out how long the B&B has been in business and learn a little about the owners, as this will give you a feel for whether the establishment has been kept well or is loosely run. Look for a place that is efficient, has been in business for a while and is professional. You may also find out the B&B has some interesting and appealing history. For example, you may get to stay in the home of a famous author or historic figure or in a renovated home with appealing history.

What Kind of Amenities Does the Bed and Breakfast Offer?
Many B&Bs offer suites, rooms that open up to verandas or balconies or private patios or rooms with fireplaces or Jacuzzi tubs right in the room.

How Much Privacy Does the Bed and Breakfast Offer?
Find out if your room will have a private bathroom or if you will be sharing with other guests. Other good questions to ask are: Is breakfast served privately in your room or will you have to eat with other guests in a common dining area?

Check Reviews for Ratings
It's a good idea to check online for reviews from other guests who have stayed at the B&B. Pay attention to any negative comments and look for a place with stellar recommendations.

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