Why I made the switch from hotels to real bed and breakfasts

I used to travel a lot personally and for business. So, I’ve experienced my fair share of hotel rooms. From small towns to Las Vegas, and motels to 5 Star luxury I’ve stayed in a variety of buildings. Oddly enough there wasn’t that much variety. And along the way, I had the chance to try a bed and breakfast. I was hooked back then and now I’m never going back. Don’t get me wrong, hotels serve a purpose, but they didn’t serve my purpose as well as they could, and I’m willing to bet that’s true for many of you too, you just don’t know it yet.

antique light switch on purple wall with overlay text that says, "Leave hotels behind... why I made the switch."

5 Reasons a Bed and Breakfast is better than a Hotel

 

1. Breakfast. Breakfast. Breakfast.
2. Free Available WiFi. Everywhere
3. A unique getaway, not copy and paste.
4. You’re a name, not a Room Number.
5. No hallway shenanigans.

Breakfast. Full Breakfast. Gourmet Breakfast.

Hotel breakfast comes in two varieties. Option A is the included continental buffet with cereal, yogurt, a juice machine (we all know is not filled with real juice), and maybe a Belgian waffle machine that everyone touched (eww). Option B is a beautiful restaurant with overpriced eggs that charges $15 for a side of bacon and is never included in your overnight price.

I love breakfast. Aside from health and wellness articles that will tell you how important starting the day is with breakfast, I happen to love the flavors. And I love variety in my breakfast. A true bed and breakfast will include a hot, gourmet breakfast with variety. Bonus points if they use local ingredients. And most ask you when you book whether you have any dietary restrictions or preferences.

Owners of a B&B love breakfast, too, or they wouldn’t have opened a bed and BREAKFAST. They want you to enjoy eating it, as much as they enjoy making it. These are my people.

Free Available WiFi. Everywhere.

There is nothing more frustrating than paying to stay at a fancy hotel, only to find that WiFi is extra. Extra?! Or it only works in your room but nowhere else. Or it works everywhere else but not your room. Odd experience since it’s free at the fast-food restaurant down the street.

In this decade, paying for WiFi is like charging for water from the tap, or charging to plug in your phone at night. Extra line items and charges on your hotel bill not only add a dark cloud at checkout (to an otherwise memorable stay), but it’s also a stressor for those submitting business receipts wondering if it’s a covered reimbursement. Gee, thanks.

Every bed and breakfast I have ever stayed in…. in the US or abroad has always included WiFi free of charge. Maybe it’s because it’s typically a home and easier to make it widely available and reliable than it is in a multi-floor 200+ monstrosity. Fair enough.

Regardless of the reason, most of us require it when we travel so this is a definite benefit and bullet point in the “pros” column of a bed and breakfast stay. They could easily call it bed, breakfast, and WiFi and still be accurate.

A unique getaway, not copy & paste.

Life is full of cookie-cutter, copy-and-paste solutions. Yes, there can be comfort in the predictable and the routine, and a hotel room provides that. I won’t deny the ease of the typically consistent stand in line check-in process, and predictable hotel room layout. But… I want to live life, not shuffle through it.

If I have to travel for work, I want to make any part of it that I can interesting and vibrant (we need to balance out the airport experience). Also, I want something interesting to talk about at the mandatory happy hour (I mean networking event).

And if I’m traveling for personal reasons, I want joy in my travel. If I’m celebrating something special, or looking for something romantic, I want to celebrate it in every way, not just have a place to flop down my bags. Work travel doesn’t have to be vanilla and a couple’s getaway should incorporate adventure, new memories, colors, history, and things that are photo-worthy into every moment. Especially if you don’t get to travel that much, make it count.

Every bed and breakfast has different character and a different feel. Some are more vintage and historic. Others are more “down-home” and farmhouse friendly. A few have quirky themes while others strive for luxury. Find the one that fits your personality and the experience you want.

When I realized where I stay could ADD to my travel experience, and not just be where I sleep, travel got a lot more interesting, fun, and memorable. I once stayed at a bed and breakfast…

  • with a hobbit-sized doorway from 1536 in the dining room that led to the wine cellar.
  • owned by a retired Ireland homicide detective (who was quite the storyteller).
  • that claimed George Washington stayed there, among other founding fathers.
  • whose breakfast was more highly rated than any restaurant in town, and you could only eat there if you stayed there. They also had fresh chocolate cake on arrival and didn’t know it was my birthday (bonus points).

You know what’s not on that list? White plastic cards you wave in front of a door hoping the little green light comes on. The standard hard couch in your room that’s an awkward shade of green. Reception areas with ringing phones and TVs with the news running 24/7. No thanks.

You’re a name, not a room number.

Hotels are big. They have several floors and countless rooms and you’ve seen the phone by the bed. You know the one. It has fourteen different codes and buttons to call fourteen different departments when you have a question or request. (I never know which button to push, I just hit zero.) I have had some great customer service at a hotel. I have also had terrible customer service. I can’t recall anyone remembering my name when they see me in the hall.

Except at a bed and breakfast. With limited rooms (which also tend to have names and not numbers), the hosts or innkeepers know who is in their home and who is not. The security is better for this reason alone. And there is one number to call or text if I need anything at all. No one needs to check with the manager. With a quick call or a walk downstairs, I’ve been given extra coffee, or wine glasses, or a bottle opener for the varietal I brought to celebrate, or space in the fridge for the local craft beer, meats, and cheese I picked up before I checked in.

I didn’t have to worry that touching something in the fridge would result in a $20 charge added to my bill for accidentally moving a bottle of water (that happens in Vegas hotels, watch out).

Check-in times are adjustable. Breakfast is served at the time that works best for me. They think about me, and worry about me, and want to make sure I enjoy every moment of my stay in their home and their town. If you like personal attention as I do, you’re a bed and breakfast fan in the making.

No shenanigans in the hallways keeping you up at night.

I’m willing to admit I might be on the losing end of this one if you typically travel with a big group, or if you need an elevator. If neither is true for you, then this is something to add your consideration set as a reason to switch from hotels to bed and breakfasts.

When I travel it’s not with kids and it’s usually for work or to celebrate with my spouse or a friend. That means I don’t want to hear the ding sound of the elevator outside my door. I don’t want to hear anyone running out of the elevator and down the hallway at night when I’m trying to sleep or relax.

I’ve carried heavy luggage up and down stairs. I’ve traveled with a family member who was in a wheelchair. I understand the practicality, and for some the need for an elevator. But I think we can still admit there is no allure to the ding sound when it’s right outside your door, or having to ride in it with a bunch of overly imbibed strangers or drenched pool children.

I have never experienced, in all my years of B&B travel, waking up in the middle of the night to a loud group of late-night partygoers returning from the bar or children running back and forth to the pool. Don’t get me wrong, there is absolutely a time and place for those things and they can be fun! I’ve been to my fair share of weekend parties, and I’ve traveled with friends and enjoyed the pool with their kids. I’m not knocking it!

But I am saying that if you don’t want those things, for whatever your reason (work or romance namely), and if stairs are a viable option for you, then a bed and breakfast is a better alternative.

In addition to not having amenities that encourage rowdy behavior, bed and breakfasts do tend to have patios, gardens, parlors, or sitting rooms. They have places where you can talk and reconnect and not be interrupted. Meeting a colleague on the patio after a long day of conference sessions it easier where you can hear each other speak, instead of being at a crowded overpriced hotel bar. Sitting in the garden with your significant other is more significant than a hard ugly couch in the hotel room, or the hard ugly couch in the reception area.

If you prefer unique experiences without stranger shenanigans, you might be a bed and breakfast candidate.

Summary of My Bed and Breakfast Experience

Every bed and breakfast will be a little different with slightly different packages to add-on or additional freebies. But each of them is owned by someone who put their whole soul into making an experience that is unique and memorable.

I’d rather fill my time with people, places, and moments like that. I’d rather spend my money with people, at places, to create moments like that.

I made the switch. I recommend you try it. You just might make the switch, too.


Try a Bed and Breakfast in Illinois

If you’ve been itching for a road trip along Route 66, or you need a romantic weekend getaway, don’t overlook central Illinois, or for that matter, specifically Bloomington, Illinois. (Though we have our share of potholes like the rest of Illinois, please don’t hold it against us or let that keep you away.)

With a growing craft beer scene, local wine tasting at Mackinaw Valley Vineyard, historic sites, hiking options like Starved Rock State Park, and talented local artists, you’re sure to find something you love. And with such abundant farmland surrounding us that means many restaurants have locally sourced farm fresh food (including Epiphany Farms which is a 10 min walk from the mansion and is farm to table).

Stay a few nights at Vrooman Mansion for your next unforgettable getaway in Illinois, and become hooked on bed and breakfasts as you explore and make more vibrant memories.

Don’t stay at a hotel. Stay in a mansion.

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