This is a good, old-fashioned, meat and potatoes Bed and Breakfast basics article. We’re going to explore the best way to choose a bed and breakfast. But first I’m going to let you all in on a little industry secret. You ready? Not all bed and breakfasts are created equal. I know, I know, that statement is a little underwhelming, it’s nothing new. However, sometimes we need that reminder. We forget that the personal touch of each inn keeper, the very thing that sets them apart from the others, may not be what we’re looking for or what we truly appreciate. The question is, should we fault them for that?

Every year many travelers choose to stay in a B&B for a multitude of reasons. It could be the personality, comfort, and intimacy. It could be the safety and security of feeling like you’re staying with someone. It could be the breakfast! But then, we write negative online reviews if the experience isn’t what we were looking for. Yes, there are times when the experience is not up to par and that is not what I am speaking about. How many reviews have you seen where someone gives lower star ratings because the location didn’t have a pool, or the decorations were too old-fashioned? Feeling disappointed can be avoided, I’ll help you navigate your expectations and bring you back to appreciating the differences each inn provides.

#1 Where do you want to go? What do you want to see when you look out the window?

Location is the supreme deciding factor of any trip. If you like shopping or being close enough to walk to restaurants, don’t pick the cabin in the woods. If you want rolling tree-lined mountains, by all means, avoid Florida. This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised. The website of your chosen bed and breakfast and Google maps will be your best friend here. Be weary if the inn doesn’t show pictures of the entire space. You need to see the outside, guest rooms, porches, dining, and common areas. This is your first impression. A good bed and breakfast owner knows how important that first impression is and will have professional photos taken.

Use Google maps to zoom in and see what’s around you. Map the distance between the inn and activities you’re interested in. If you’re not computer savvy, give them a call and ask a ton of questions about the location. And if someone is booking for you, please tell them exactly what you are looking for.

#2 What are your Bed and Breakfast non-negotiables?

Typical bed and breakfast amenities run the gamete and can include whether or not you have a private bathroom, in-room temperature control, a full vs continental breakfast, the option of separated dining, off-street parking, and daily housekeeping. If any of these is super important to you, make sure your choice includes them. For those of you who need to hear this, you know who you are; you can’t book a stay at a bed and breakfast that has a shared bathroom then post a negative review for them having it. I mean, you can, but your review will be seen as rubbish. People see right through that. You get to choose whether or not to stay there. So do your research.

#3 Are there any extras you would like?

This may not be as important to you, but can help you choose after narrowing your search down to a few contenders. Personal choice amenities that are offered by each innkeeper can really make a difference in guest comfort. Perks like outdoor amenities, maybe a pool, fire pit, or outdoor seating. And indoor amenities like 24/7 coffee and tea, a TV in your room, or cocktail hour. These little extras are a lovely touch, but again should not be held against an innkeeper if they choose not to provide them.

It seems that the moral of the story here is that you have the power to choose an inn with the comforts you need and want. You’re not staying in a cookie-cutter hotel. You’re a guest, in a home, that belongs to someone else. With their personal style and offerings. And their hope is to make your stay so enjoyable that you return.

Alan Ohara