4 Questions to Ask Your Bed and Breakfast Hosts

By: Janeleisteiner
Where is the inn located?

This may seem like an odd question, but location can be everything depending on what you intend to do during your stay. Do you want to get away from it all at a secluded respite where televisions, wireless internet and Starbucks are nowhere to be found? Or do you need a more urban setting, complete with technology and nearby access to great restaurants and nightlife? If you have a specific itinerary in mind, talk with your innkeeper and ask how far the inn is from the attractions you wish to visit. Also, don't forget to ask about parking. Some inns, just like most hotels and motels, charge a parking fee, and a few inns do not have parking at all, especially in urban settings. Here's an example of two distinctly different locations in the same general area: The Pacific Northwest.

Enjoy romance in the city at the Inn at Harbor Steps in downtown Seattle. This Washington bed and breakfast is close to a myriad of local attractions and within walking distance of plenty of shops and restaurants. The guest rooms are spacious and filled with amenities, many have fireplaces and some feature private patios. The inn has a fully equipped gym that includes a fitness room, lap pool and basketball court. Guests can even borrow movies, books and CDs from the innkeepers. There is a full breakfast service, beverages are available throughout the day, and cookies and afternoon tea are served. However, if you crave some time away from the big city, an hour's drive and 20-minute ferry ride takes you to Whidbey Island, secluded home to The Saratoga Inn. This seaside gem offers a variety of guestrooms, many with views of the Saratoga Passage and Cascade Mountains. For a special occasion, try the Carriage House room, a spacious retreat with a king-size sleigh bed, stone fireplace, antique clawfoot tub and private deck with a view of the water. As with the Seattle inn, guests at Saratoga are treated to full breakfasts and afternoon tea.

What kinds of rooms are available?

There's nothing cookie cutter about a bed and breakfast. Innkeepers take a lot of pride in creating a special experience for their guests. Each room usually has been decorated individually, and some innkeepers even have a theme for each room. Unlike hotels, where the rooms are generally the same size and style, room sizes often range from sweet, cozy retreats to large spacious rooms with all the trimmings. Some rooms have private baths with whirlpool tubs, and some rooms might share a bath. Be sure to make a list of what you want and ask your innkeeper what is available. Here are some example rooms:

The Green Gables Inn in Pacific Grove, California, is a perfect example of the diversity of room choices. There is something here to please every guest. The Gable room boasts a view of Monterey Bay from one window, and if you climb up a ladder to the room's loft, you'll find a window seat boasting yet another view of the bay. The cozy room includes a queen bed and a private bath with a shower. While the Carriage House guestrooms don't feature the same spectacular ocean view found in the main house, they have plenty of amenities to make up for it. Each room includes a king-size bed, fireplace and peek ocean view, as well as a private bath with a jetted tub and shower. No matter what room you choose, you'll be treated to a full breakfast, and in the afternoons, wine and hors d'oeuvres are served. And don't forget the inn's location, directly across the street from Monterey Bay, offers a view you'll never forget.

Is the inn appropriate for children or pets?

Bed and breakfasts often are located in historic, restored homes. Many innkeepers decorate their inn with fine antiques and knickknacks. Other inns are especially romantic and more suited to couples than to families. Several states have laws that forbid innkeepers from outright banning children, but that does not necessarily mean that you should bring the kids. It's your vacation, and you want everyone to be comfortable, so be sure to choose an inn that is suitable. Be sure to ask what kinds of activities, either at the inn or nearby, are available for kids. As for pets, a few innkeepers allow pets, and some will even board your horses for a fee, but be sure to ask. There are plenty of great options for families, and some locations may be ideal.

The Blue Lantern Inn, located on a bluff overlooking the Dana Point Harbor, is a perfect location for families. A two-minute drive will take you either to the local harbor or world-famous Doheny Beach, where the whole family can play in the surf, picnic or even rent bicycles. Laguna Beach is just a few minutes away, and a half-hour's drive will take you to Disneyland. In addition, there are several nearby local parks and plenty of restaurants and cafes within walking distance of the inn. The full breakfast has plenty of kid-friendly delights, and there are freshly baked cookies throughout the day. The inn is decorated with soft, cuddly teddy bears, too, and you might find that the family adopts several furry friends along the way.

What types of amenities are included in the inn's rates?

Most bed and breakfasts include some kind of breakfast service along with your room rates, whether it be a three-course feast, lavish buffet or simple continental fare. But many innkeepers provide many more amenities. You might enjoy afternoon tea and evening turn-down service. Rooms might be stocked with luxurious bath products and Egyptian cotton towels and beds topped with fluffy pillow and down comforters. Ask your innkeeper or check out the inn's website to make sure your top choice has all the amenities you want.

Guests at the Channel Road Inn in Santa Monica, California, are pampered with plenty of amenities. There is a full breakfast and afternoon treats, which include wine and hors d'oeuvres. Freshly baked cookies and beverages are available throughout the day. Rooms are stocked with amenities, such as luxurious linens, European bath soaps, fluffy robes, televisions with DVD players and practical items such as irons and hair dryers. There are DVDs and books to borrow at the front desk, as well as easily forgotten items such as shaving cream or a toothbrush. A concierge service is available, and the staff can recommend restaurants or provide directions to local attractions. After a day exploring Los Angeles, you'll return to find you've been treated to a chocolate turn-down service.
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