New England is resplendent with bed & breakfast inns, but if staying at a B&B is new to you, you may find the intimacy and inconsistency a bit discomforting. Here's how to ensure you'll have a comfortable stay:
Time Required: 15 minutes
- Try to see photographs of the inn and its rooms either on the Web or in a brochure or book before making your selection.
- Be sure to inquire about whether your room will have a private bath if the idea of sharing a bathroom with other guests is not your cup of tea.
- If you will be arriving at the bed & breakfast in your own vehicle, be sure to inquire about parking availability.
- If you will not have your own vehicle, be sure to ask the innkeeper about transportation options; many B&Bs tend to be located in less urban environments where public transportation may not be readily accessible.
- By their very nature, B&Bs include breakfast in your room rate, but ask whether you'll be served a light Continental breakfast or a full meal.
- Breakfast hours are often limited, so be sure to ask when breakfast will be available, particularly if you are an especially early or late riser.
- Be sure to have detailed directions to the inn; unlike hotels, you won't find your B&B by its highway signs or neon "no vacancy" lights.
- Check in and check out times may be more flexible at a B&B than at a hotel, but respect your innkeeper's time by arranging for both in advance.
- Very late arrival is often not compatible with selecting a B&B for your accommodations.
- Some B&Bs have minimum stays, particularly on busy weekends.
- If you are visiting at the height of the humid summer season, you'll want to inquire as to whether the inn has central air conditioning or room air conditioners.
- Unlike chain hotels that often allow you to cancel your reservations on the day of arrival, B&Bs may have more restrictive cancellation policies. Be sure to determine the cancellation policy before booking.
- Many antique-filled bed & breakfasts are no place for children, and some do not allow children at all. If you'll have kids along, be sure to let the innkeeper know.
- While dining is usually communal at breakfast time, some innkeepers will make more private arrangements for couples, particularly honeymooners, who wish to be alone. Ask ahead.
- When possible, ask friends and associates for personal recommendations or read reviews before selecting a B&B at "random" from a guidebook or online directory.
- Your innkeepers are likely to be experts on the area where you're staying. Be sure to ask for their recommendations--you're likely to find restaurants and attractions that are hidden gems.
- Be sure to make reservations especially early for the busy New England fall foliage season; choice inns book up months in advance.
- Your hosts will be anxious to make your stay comfortable, but don't expect them to be mind readers. If you have specific needs or expectations, make them clear when you call to reserve your room.