1. Bed and breakfasts tend to be fancy and expensive.
At first glance, the rates might seem high. But advocates point out that there is built-in value with a B&B stay, especially when comparing it to a night in a big city hotel where everything is priced a la carte.
“B&Bs are actually more value-oriented than a hotel stay any time, in cities and in rural areas,” says Marti Mayne, a long-time B&B consultant who now works with The BB Team, a broker and consulting service for innkeepers. “When you add the cost of a breakfast at a major urban hotel, the cost of Wi-Fi access, afternoon refreshments and then the cost of the water in the mini-bar, these extras totally add up. Many B&Bs offer up free DVDs and some rooms come equipped with DVD players and flat-screen TVs, with evening refreshments like wine and cheese or port available in the library.”
“What you can’t put a price on,” adds Mayne, “is the value of the personalized hospitality. Innkeepers are happy to share their inside knowledge, offering up those perfect gems of places for photo ops, picnics, and a day of touring or tasting.” Plus innkeepers will help carry your luggage, “no tips needed.”
2. Bed and breakfasts aren’t a good option in big cities.
Tell that to Kurtz Thometz, who runs Jumel Terrace BnB in Harlem Heights in New York City. In his brownstone, Thometz offers a 900-square-foot, two-bedroom book-lined garden apartment that offers accommodation, Wi-Fi and daily breakfast for up to six guests. This is Sugar Hill, the uptown neighborhood of Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Lena Horne, and the house overlooks the historic Morris-Jumel Mansion. The midweek rate of $375 a night for four guests is a fraction of what similar-sized accommodations and breakfast would cost four travelers in Midtown Manhattan. For an extra charge, Thometz offers neighborhood tours in his vintage black 1976 Checker Marathon taxi. Heading to San Francisco, Boston or Chicago? Sites such as BedandBreakfast.com, BNBFinder and BNBOnline offer hundreds of big-city options, as does TripAdvisor.
The value factor of a B&B is probably most evident in a city setting.
Penny Whisler, innkeeper of Three Tree Point Bed & Breakfast in Seattle, points out that “the Seattle summer hotel room average for 2015 was $427 and there is not one B&B room that was close to that. Our highest room rate last summer was $295 and this includes breakfast, parking — which is $50 per day at some Seattle hotels — WiFi, and no lodging taxes. You get not just a room but a home with your own living room, kitchen, bedroom, bathroom and patio with amazing views of the Puget Sound and Mount Rainier.”
While not exactly exuding a typical corporate welcome — which is probably a good thing — the fact is that many B&B’s now cater to business travelers in larger cities and smaller towns where there are corporate headquarters nearby.
Penny Whisler of Three Tree Point in Seattle often gets business travelers, including one woman who has returned again and again.
“This is her 17th stay with us,” Whisler says. “She likes having a stocked kitchen, living room, Wi-Fi, quiet and safe neighborhood, and a home away from home. We also offer a frequent-visit special.”
Indeed, it’s the pricing that can be an added incentive. Mayne says that “Many inns and B&Bs offer business and corporate rates. Simply ask. Additionally, if you need to have the breakfast portion charged separately because of a per diem for food and another for lodging, that’s not a problem. Simply mention it to your innkeeper and they’re happy to create an invoice with breakfast deducted and listed separately from the lodging portion of the bill.”
She adds that “some innkeepers welcome breakfast meetings and provide a complimentary breakfast for a colleague or charge a nominal amount. They’ll also provide a private place to meet if space allows.”
Some take it even further. Depending on their size and location, some B&Bs can be ideal locations for small retreats and workshops and can host small business meetings. They will also provide meeting space and break-out rooms if available. Increasingly, B&Bs are also equipped with AV equipment like LCD projectors, teleconferencing and more. A good example is the Walnut Street Inn, a boutique bed and breakfast in Springfield, Mo., which actively courts business guests with great Wi-Fi, corporate rates during the week, and the ability to accommodate up to 24 guests in their parlors for meetings.
4. There’s no privacy in a bed and breakfast.
Some B&Bs in older homes certainly have noise issues, but Mayne points out that B&Bs were designed with romance in mind, and privacy is important to ensure a romantic setting.
“Newer B&Bs are increasingly built from the ground up to be a B&B and privacy is addressed with extra insulation between rooms and also between floors, like theLookout Point Inn in Hot Springs, Ark.,” she says.
Mayne says that in vintage B&Bs, many innkeepers have added extra insulation in rooms and added private tables to the dining rooms, in case couples would prefer to enjoy breakfast together rather than “family-style” at the table. More than 50% of B&Bs now offer private tables, and many offer only private tables for dining, likeRabbit Hill Inn in Lower Waterford, Vt.
Shared bathrooms used to be a hallmark of the bed and breakfast experience, when old residences had a single bathroom to serve an entire floor of bedrooms. But that’s no longer common.
“This is the largest myth of all,” says Mayne. “Surverys of inns and B&Bs show that 99% of inns and B&Bs offer all-private baths. And for many inns, the bathroom is the new bedroom and filled with amenities like whirlpool tubs, steam or multi-jet showers, fireplaces in the bathroom and more. Knowing how important privacy is, innkeepers are experts in fitting in private baths to guest rooms.”