I've been married a while now. It's eighteen years this coming Saturday, and we wanted to spend the night at a bed & breakfast nearby. The problem was that there was a huge wedding party at the place we wanted to go, so we went a week early. Which was last night.
In case you're completely unaware of, well, anything, a bed & breakfast is like a hotel, except usually they're just somebody's house and they let you sleep upstairs. Breakfast is generally assumed to be included (thus the name), and it's better than when you stay at the Motel 6 and they have gross donuts in the lobby. The rooms are more luxuriously appointed, and the idea is that your stay feels more personalized.
Other than that, though, you're pretty much just in a hotel.
We've actually been staying at bed & breakfast places
for a while. We've checked out a few, from the place way out in the
middle of No Place, Texas to the gated compound in the middle of the big
city. We have started to figure out the things about a B&B that make it really appealing, and the things that make you just kind of wish you had stayed at the Hilton.
There are lots of features you might want out of a good B&B. The bed is important - it needs to be big and comfy, because let's face it, that's in the name. If the bed sucks, you're just showing up for breakfast. You're there because you need some time away from the kids, the pets, the bill collectors, the probation officers, and the in-laws (you may not have all those things. I'm just covering the bases) and your escape should include a really good night's sleep.
Another important reason you go to a B&B is for the surroundings. The place we went last night is in the middle of the city, which we chose because we wanted to be close to our home, and because we wanted to be able to just run out real quick and grab dinner so that we could bring it back and watch a movie while we ate. The whole area is gated and fenced, so you've got some real privacy, and it was ridiculously quiet, especially considering we were in the middle of the city.
Usually, though, we prefer to make the two-hour drive to the place out in the boonies, where we can go hiking before dinner, hit the outdoor hot tub after dinner, and watch the sun come up from the spacious front porch before breakfast. This particularly awesome B&B has a llama that will follow you around when you go for a walk on the trails. It's incredibly cool to be trailed by a 7-foot-tall herbivore while you're on a nature walk.
You also want to consider the space you get. At last night's spot, we had a whole cottage, including a spacious dining room table which we used to play Glory to Rome and Mice & Mystics (yes, we're nerds - we went on our anniversary vacation and played games). At our preferred, country spot, the room doesn't have a table - just a bed and a bathtub - but there's a lovely common room where you can go downstairs and chat with the other people staying there.
Another neat feature of many B&B's is the communal breakfast. This is where they go, 'breakfast is at eight,' and everyone shows up, and you eat whatever they bring out and talk with the other guests before you all leave and never see each other again. There's a down-homey sense of community and, I don't know, humanity that feels like a lost art. This is another thing about staying in a B&B that makes it better than a hotel - in a hotel, if anyone talks to you in the lobby, you duck your head and put your hand on your pocket to make sure they don't steal your wallet.
Probably the thing that sets a B&B apart from a regular hotel more than anything else is the personal touch. There's no concierge or guest services attendant. There's just the lady that owns the house, and she'll see if she's got any aspirin, but would Tylenol be OK? If you forget your razor at a hotel, they can probably give you a cheap disposable. At a B&B, they'll tell you where to find the convenience store, and say hi to Jerome while you're in there, he's a friend of the family. Get sick at a hotel, they'll send room service with some Imodium. Get sick at a B&B, the guy who runs the place will whip you up some chicken soup and see if you need extra pillows, and here's a quilt my grandmother made, and should I call the family doctor?
I really like taking my wife to B&B's. We always have fun, and usually come back very relaxed and happy. Then we walk through the door and find out the cat pooped on the landing, the kids spilled orange soda on the kitchen floor and there's a roach stuck in the puddle, and they ate all the Pop-Tarts while we were gone.
So happy anniversary to me!