Airbnb vs. Traditional B&B: What is the difference? 

Do you know the difference between a homestay, vacation rental, hotel, and a traditional bed and breakfast? If you’ve heard about sites like Airbnb or VRBO, know the different experiences you could have before you book, to help you make a more informed decision about where you and your family or travel companions should stay. Let us help you break down some important decisions and distinctions you’d experience in Bloomington, IL. 

  • How do you feel about breakfast? 
  • Do you need or really want a pool? 
  • Is learning and history something you love about travel? 
  • Do you prefer an onsite bar or restaurant? 

What does “bnb” mean?  

Is there a difference between a bed-and-breakfast and a place you might find on Airbnb? Definitely yes, in Bloomington, Illinois.  

There are over 60 Airbnb -ish listings in the Bloomington-Normal area, with very different rental types. They can be as simple as staying on someone’s couch, more commonly renting their spare bedroom and a bathroom, or renting an entire condo or home.

 

antique red velvet chairs and couch in the parlor

Each will provide an entirely different list of extras ranging from nothing at all, to typical hotel bathroom amenities, or maybe even a bicycle you could borrow. Every host can make their own choices about what’s included, so reach out before you book. We don’t want you to be surprised if something isn’t there when you check-in. 

Hotels and traditional bed and breakfasts can also list their rooms on Airbnb (we do), in addition to private residents renting out their homes. This means listing sites will have a mix of options, which is why it’s important to read the details. It’s not always obvious if you’ll be renting from a person or a business. Look for logos and read the details which identify what is included, what’s on-site, what’s private and what’s shared (like bathrooms).  

We’ve compiled a few tips to help you think through the right kind of place to stay in Bloomington-Normal that’s perfect for you and your travel companions. We’d love for you to become a traditional bed and breakfast loyalist and choose us, but it’s most important that when you visit central Illinois you have the right experience for you! 

What do you crave for breakfast? 

When you see “BnB”, this is a reference to the more traditional “B & B” which stands for bed and breakfast. Any place you stay typically offers a bed, but what about that second B? If someone claims to be a BnB… do they actually offer breakfast? 

Most room or house rentals do not include breakfast. Some locations do have kitchens or kitchenettes you can use if you bring your own groceries. How do you prefer to handle breakfast when you travel? Do you want to make your own breakfast, or do you want someone to take care of that for you? There isn’t a wrong answer, this is about personal preference. 

If you do not want to have to think about where to buy (or store) groceries, cooking or cleaning, then the next most important question is what kind of breakfast you prefer. If you like a continental breakfast with cereal, bagels, juice and coffee then most hotels in Bloomington should be able to meet your needs. A handful have an onsite restaurant where you can pay extra for a meal in the morning. 

If you prefer a hot breakfast, have dietary restrictions, or just want to be pampered then you should consider a traditional bed and breakfast when you travel. For those who find this to be an important part of their travel journey, once they discover a traditional B&B, they rarely go back.  

antique dining room table

In Bloomington, IL at Vrooman Mansion we are the only traditional bed and breakfast, and we’re the only one in town offering a gourmet hot breakfast. The words epic and exquisite have been used to describe it (check out our Google reviews!). 

Is having a pool important to your family? 

A few whole house rentals in Bloomington, IL have a pool available though they would be outdoors, not indoors. And we’re sorry to tell you but fall is here and we’re approaching winter! If having a pool is really important to your family you should look at a hotel which is more likely to have indoor pool options that meet your needs. Unfortunately, a traditional bed and breakfast likely won’t be for you.  

And that’s okay. Travel should be an amazing journey of new memories for you and your family, so prioritize what’s most important to your crew and plan accordingly.  

small water fountain

Do you like history? 

If you’re homeschooling your children, or looking for interesting ways to supplement in school learning, staying in a historic location can provide you both a great overnight stay but also a learning experience.  

In Bloomington we do not have any historic hotels, but there are a few historic homes available for rent. An Airbnb listing might be in a historic home, but its unclear whether you’ll be able to interact with the host and learn from them about the local history, too. You should definitely ask in advance because they might surprise you! 

If learning is something you love to incorporate into your travel, we recommend considering a traditional bed and breakfast in a historic home where you can not only learn about the stories but visually experience the unique architecture, fixtures, and furniture. Often times the innkeeper will have literature about the area and the home, be able to provide you with a detailed tour and help you identify other places in town where you can learn more.  

several antique books on a fireplace mantle including one about Abraham Lincoln

Vrooman Mansion was built in 1869, and our bed and breakfast is filled with history that spans philanthropy, agriculture, US Presidents, and esteemed authors. We’d be thrilled to walk you through the mansion and how the previous owners contributed to not only the local community, but internationally, too. 

Do you need an onsite bar and/or restaurant? 

Did you know that for the longest time Bloomington-Normal, Illinois had more restaurants per capita than any other city in the United States? It surprised us, too! (According to the local newspaper, the Pantagraph, we have 14 Subway restaurants!) And our town has a mix of familiar chain restaurants as well as fabulous locally owned establishments. Some are farm to table, others are in historic parts of town, and they all give you Midwest hospitality.  

But what about where you’re staying 

You will not find a formal restaurant or bar in an Airbnb or VRBO listing. (They might have snacks stocked for you, but you’d have to reach out to the host personally to ask).  

Some traditional bed and breakfasts have restaurants attached (since they offer breakfast in the morning), but not all are able to do so. We do not, however we have a full-sized refrigerator for you to store anything you’d like to have as snacks or drinks, and you are welcome to have dinner delivered to the mansion where you can enjoy it in the dining room.  

When the weather is nice you could also dine on our side porch, just let us know in advance if this is something you’re interested in. We’ll gladly provide you with plates, silverware and glasses so you don’t have to eat out of styrofoam 😊 We’d be happy to provide you with a list of local restaurants that deliver. 

two glasses of white wine on the west patio table

A few hotels in town have a restaurant or bar on site, but with recent staffing challenges in the service industry it will be really important for you to call and check their hours. Here’s a short list of a few hotels we’re aware of with on-site dining: 

  • The Holiday Inn Express across from the Central Illinois Regional Airport is connected to Baxters, a local bar and restaurant. 
  • The Hilton Double Tree on South Veterans Parkway has a bar, but not a full restaurant. 
  • Both the Marriott Hotel and Conference Center and Hyatt Place in Uptown Normal both have an onsite restaurant and bar. 

Which will you choose? 

If you don’t need a pool, you love both breakfast and history, and you want to try different locally owned restaurants, we’d humbly recommend you choose to stay in a mansion… our mansion. 

At Vrooman Mansion, we’re a traditional bed and breakfast and we’re also listed on Airbnb. That just means we’re interested in being your new home away from home.  

  • If you’re traveling for business, we can provide a place that feels more like a home, with benefits of someone making you a gourmet breakfast before you start each work day.  
  • If you’re on a road-trip, choose to blend in history and style as you stretch your legs from the car.  
  • If you’re planning a getaway with friends or the one you love, make it memorable by choosing to stay in a mansion. 

With 7 beds to choose from, and gourmet breakfast always included, you get both B’s at Vrooman Mansion… bed and breakfast. 

Book today and make history. 

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