Staying at a bed and breakfast is a completely unique experience to any other type of lodging. Each property is individual, each innkeeper, and, of course, each guest is special. Part of what makes the bed and breakfast experience so appealing to those who love to frequent them is the fact that they are so different. In general they are more personal, more intimate, and ultimately, in our humble opinion, they are a much more comfortable type of accommodation. In many ways, they bridge the gap between hotel and home. You get the creature comforts of a high end hotel but with personalized attention. With that, there are a couple of Do’s and Dont’s of Staying at a Bed and Breakfast that all guests should be aware of. These aren’t necessarily true across the board for every property, but they are a good guideline and things to keep in mind, especially for those who are new to the bed and breakfast experience.
Do: Mind check in and check out times. These are determined based upon two main factors. One, it takes time to clean a room between guests and to make sure that it is ready for the next check in. Usually 2-3 hours is adequate time to get things ready, depending upon laundry needs, the degree of mess left behind and any maintenance that might be needed, but this is contingent on how many rooms a property has, whether the innkeeper is solo or not, staffing, etc. Secondly, some innkeepers actually work outside of the bed and breakfast and therefore they simply may not be available outside of those check in/out times. Please don’t show up early expecting an early check in without calling first to make sure it’s ok. Most of us will bend over backwards to accommodate you as best as we can, but we would like advance warning. Same goes with late check out. Most of us will be willing to accommodate a late check out as long as nobody is checking in, but please ask before you assume that it’s ok.
Don’t: Please don’t enter areas designated as “private” or “innkeepers only.” This may include the kitchen, innkeepers quarters, laundry room or any other areas designated by the innkeeper as “their” space. We all need somewhere we can call our own. We aren’t hiding anything from you, we just need to be able to have a space where we can be guest free, be our messy selves and not have to worry about running into guests when we are trying to get errands or chores done. Don’t take it personally. We love having you and love sharing our home with you, otherwise we wouldn’t be in the business, but we do need alone time once in a while.
Do: Ask questions. We are here to make your stay as enjoyable as possible. We want you to ask questions. Ask us about where to go, what to do, what to see. Ask us if you need something. Don’t try to find it yourself and please don’t refrain from asking because you don’t want to put us out. We can’t fix problems we don’t know about. And by all means, if you notice something is not right in a guest room, please inform us. There are times where a room may be occupied for weeks at a time and we may not get the opportunity to test every aspect of the room at each turn. That means we rely on our guests to let us know if they accidentally broke something or if they noticed there is something missing. We love constructive criticism and we will always do everything we can to oblige. If you don’t like the pillow, ask. If you are cold, ask us to adjust the temp. If you are allergic to down and forgot to tell us, please mention it. If you need more towels, more soap, more toilet paper, more bottled water, or anything for that matter, ask.
Don’t: Show up late for breakfast. Every innkeeper has their own way of doing things when it comes to breakfast times. Some establish parameters during which they will serve, others have a set time. We happen to ask each guest to tell us when they would like to dine. Either way, once that time is established, please show up on time. Unlike the chain motel with the crappy waffle maker and stale bagel display that has been sitting their for hours waiting for you to come down and get breakfast, innkeepers go out of their way to cook you a hot and special breakfast every morning. It takes us time to do this and it involves a lot of prep to make sure everything is just right so that when you arrive your breakfast is as good as it can be. If you show up later than anticipated it can totally derail the timing and of course food that is time sensitive, like souffles, will be ruined. That’s a bummer. A few minutes is totally understandable. Fifteen minutes or more? Not so much.
Do: Observe any rules or requests that may be set forth by the innkeepers. Some bed and breakfasts will present you with a short list of their rules upon check in, others have a book on the bed or somewhere in the room outlining basic rules. Some, like us, don’t really have any. Either way, remember you are staying in someone’s home and it is up to them to establish what they are comfortable with you doing or not doing. If they ask you not to touch the antique lamp in the parlor, please don’t touch it. Most of the time these rules are there to not only protect you but also to insure that your stay is as comfortable and uneventful as possible. I know it can be tempting to bend the rules a little but out of respect we innkeepers really appreciate it if you don’t.
Don’t: That leads me to the next issue, which is don’t mess with anything that is on display. Don’t take pictures off the wall or anything else off the wall that is hung there, don’t move furniture without asking, don’t handle collectibles or family heirlooms without asking first. Something may not appear to be worth anything, and in fact it may not be per se, but you never know what is in fact of sentimental value to an innkeeper and the last thing you would want is to accidentally break it or somehow damage it. You feel bad, we feel bad and it just isn’t worth it. We are happy to show stuff off to you and to tell you stories. We may even let you hold something, but ask us first. It should be up to the innkeeper to make that call. In our case, we call these sentimental items “eye candy” and in fact have a whole write up about them in our guest books for you to read and then check out later.
The bottom line is respect and communication. We don’t want you to feel like you are staying in a museum. We want your stay to be homey, comfortable and for you to feel at ease when you stay with us. We just want to feel like you respect us, our space, our home and what we do. It helps us to be the best innkeepers we can possibly be so that you can have the best possible time while you are in our care.