Q: What is a Bed and Breakfast?

Bed & Breakfast accommodations, also called B&Bs, can broadly be defined as independent small properties offering overnight lodging and breakfast in a home-like setting. Unlike the "sameness" in a motel or hotel, B&Bs are unique properties, making a singular definition challenging. Many are family-owned and run by individual innkeeper/owners. Often they are renovated old homes, many were once stately residences, a great number are in extraordinary locations, and each is distinctly individual. Many are in quiet residential neighborhoods, in small towns, or off the beaten path... but they can also be found in large cities and in popular destination areas. By their nature, bed & breakfasts generally have fewer guest rooms and are more intimate than traditional hotels, motels, lodges, and resorts. Variety reigns, from one B&B to another as well as in an individual B&B itself. Each guest room or suite is usually unlike any other - in size, configuration, decor, and individual characteristics. Historic old buildings which are converted into bed and breakfast properties often will preserve the character of the past while discretely incorporating modern comforts and technology, like individual controls for heat/air, spacious rooms, private baths, large flat screen TVs, and sitting areas. Overall, a bed and breakfast is commonly designed to create an atmosphere of romance, comfort, relaxation, and charm - aiming for an extraordinary and memorable guest experience.

As with any lodging category, bed & breakfasts vary in their level of quality, so this description is a generalization... a bed & breakfast which is far more than mere sleeping accommodations and a morning meal. B&B hosts strive to make guests feel at home, while spoiling them with extravagance beyond their normal day-to-day lives. Attention is friendly and personal, usually with flexibility to cater to guests' individual needs. Breakfasts are a major focal point, most often included in the room rate, and are typically non-traditional, gourmet, and prepared from scratch. Featured entrees for breakfast often change daily, and many B&Bs offer signature items, such as stuffed french toast, berry-laden pancakes, and egg-centric creations, accented with specialties like Inn-baked pastries, made-to-order fruit smoothies, freshly baked breads. There are chefs who add fresh harvests from their own gardens, others who incorporate regional specialties into the menu, and some who highlight locally-sourced ingredients. Breakfast is an event!

Extensive "free" guest amenities are often included in the overnight room rate. Offerings such as whirlpool tubs in the guest rooms, comfortable (often luxurious) bedding, decadent sweets, and plush robes are frequently included. Often the rooms and suites are furnished with lovely antiques, while some mix in period reproductions in order to satisfy modern desires like king-sized beds and flat screen televisions. Some have in-room gas-log or electric fireplaces to add ambience. Each property is unique in what is "included" in the room rate, and added value comes with features like complimentary use of bicycles, WiFi, free parking, made-to-order specialty coffees, afternoon refreshments, a swimming pool, and freshly baked cookies. A selection of "add-ons," such as massages, champagne and strawberries, gourmet picnic lunches, breakfast delivered to the guest room, complimentary tickets to local attractions, and other treats are commonly offered to enhance the guests' stay.

Another aspect of a Bed and Breakfast which makes it a preferred lodging choice for many people is the social interaction with the hosts and with fellow guests. Communal breakfast tables, all-day coffee service, and comfortable common areas of the property - such as living rooms, garden seating, poolside chairs, and porches - invite conversation. Activities like evening socials and nightly desserts facilitate casual mingling. Tips on area activities, good dining options, nearby landmarks, and local favorites are often shared, and lasting friendships are formed. On the other hand, opportunities for quiet, soothing "alone-time" are also provided at most bed & breakfasts, and romance takes high priority in the B&B experience.