So you have decided to ditch the neon-flashing motel chains and marble-foyered monsters and venture into the world of cozy, intimate bed and breakfasts? Well….usually that’s the gospel truth. However, there are certain things to keep in mind and questions to ask yourself (and prospective innkeepers) before you make your final decision and turn over your credit card number.
The first thing to consider is the area of the country you will be visiting. Many towns across America offer the b&b experience but only have a couple of options for you to look at. On the other hand, if you visit our hometown of Fredericksburg, Texas (population 9,000) there are literally hundreds of b&b’s, reportedly the largest number of b&b’s per capita in the country. When visiting such a popular bed and breakfast town, the research you do beforehand will greatly impact the quality of your stay.
These days it seems almost everyone makes their travel decisions and arrangements through the internet. The truth is you are probably one of those individuals or you wouldn’t be reading this article. You can always begin your search by typing in your destination city or town and”bed and breakfast” into your search engine to get an idea of the choices you’ll ever have. As you start to view the properties, you should consider whether the b&b has the following amenities (assuming these are important to you): private bath, temperature control, full or continental breakfast, off-street parking, daily housekeeping and the ever-important variable….location.
Proximity to the”center of action” is often a plus for many travelers; however, it sometimes comes with a drawback. . .noise. In our town, many people want to be”on Main Street,” and to be sure it’s a boon at the end of the day when carrying heavy shopping bags back to your room. However, guests are sometimes surprised at the street noise which lasts throughout the night (Main Street is, after all, Highway 290)! Some visitors prefer to be a few blocks off Main with a bit more privacy yet good access to Main Street. Still others prefer a place in the nation.
Making this first decision will cut the number of properties you consider by up to 2/3. A note of caution however; if location is a prime concern of yours be very detailed in your quest. By way of instance, many Fredericksburg bed and breakfasts advertise”Located on Main Street,” but what they don’t tell you is they are a mile and a half from the shopping district on the west end of town. In our town, the 100-300 blocks of East Main are considered the true shopping district. So if proximity to shopping is your goal, you would be better off with a cottage 3 blocks off of Main but within the 100-300 blocks than at the property a mile and a half from shopping that sounds so convenient. Remember the old addage, “Buyer Beware.”
Fredericksburg is unique in offering literally hundreds of one-couple, individual Sunday Houses or cottages in addition to numerous true multi-unit inns. One big distinction here other than the obvious overall solitude issue is usually breakfast. In a private cottage you almost always receive a continental breakfast, left before you arrive. At a traditional”Inn” or bed and breakfast, you are often served a full gourmet breakfast at a pre-arranged time. . .along with other guests. So for many guests the choice comes down to continental with privacy or full-breakast served in a dining area. Either option offers lots of possibilities. But with so many different properties, there are no set rules; so check their website or ask!
Another common pitfall is something that sounds so basic but can really impact your experience: decor. Word on the street in b&b circles is that guests are increasingly looking for a “magazine spread” when they walk in the door. Nothing pleases me more than to open our guestbook and read, “When we opened the door the beautiful room just took my breath away!” Few people go to a bed and breakfast looking for the type decor they have at home. . .or worse, their granny’s decor! However, many b&b owners are under the false impression that they can take a vacant rent-house and hang out their shingle. They may stumble upon a few unsuspecting guests. . .but you do not need it to be you. Make sure and check the images on the website. I would never book a room that didn’t at least show photos of the exterior of the cottage or inn and the bed. Webmasters tell me that these are the two photo’s potential guests are most interested in. I would be very wary of a facility that wasn’t proud to show its exterior and at least one photo of the inside of each room. Jacuzzi tubs, hot tubs, gas fireplaces, it’s all out there for the taking. . .for those who do their homework. Spend a little extra time asking the right questions and you can have the most wonderful, relaxing getaway experience yet.