Now that my husband and I have been official Inn Keepers for over two months here at Good Medicine Lodge in Whitefish, Montana, we have noticed many differences between what a typical hotel can offer you compared to a Bed and Breakfast.
For starters, a Bed and Breakfast is also a home to an Inn Keeper. He or she or in our case the couple takes care of the premises like it is their home (because it is) instead of just a business.
A hotel lobby might have a warm lit fire to welcome you, but everything from the stale hallways to the bland room you end up in is a far cry from a B&B. Instead, a B&B will provide you with very personal touches you will feel throughout your stay. You are greeted by a welcoming smile and perhaps someone who is also offering to help you with your bags (with no expectation of a tip at the door.) Then you are given a brief tour of the facility, how to work certain things and what is available for you to use. In many cases, it feels a lot like staying at a close friend or family member’s home. Maybe a little awkward at first but once you get the hang of where things are and that you are most very welcome, you start to feel like being in your home away from home.
I should warn you here that of course, not all B&B’s are created equally. Some might generally fit my description in this write up and some are pretty different than the one we run. But hopefully by reading this you are open to trying a B&B out the next time you decide to travel, because I would be very confident in saying that most B&B’s will offer you the majority of what I describe.
Some Bed and Breakfasts are your stereotypical 5 bedroom home that perhaps offer shared bathrooms and maybe a shared dining table at breakfast. This type might deter some guests from booking because maybe there is some pressure to “fit in” with the owners or they might feel like they couldn’t relax being so close in proximity to other strangers. But I would say that if you are up for a new experience you might find that you meet some very interesting people who provide you with a sense of community and you could end up with long lasting friends.
Many modern B&B’s these days offer private bathrooms to go along with the larger sized bedrooms. This is a really great option for people who want the privacy that a hotel can offer but also gives you the many offerings that comes with a B&B and not with a hotel. This would be the case for our B&B. We have ten rooms all with private bathrooms and a couple of them are suites, which are really great if you can afford to splurge a little. Two of our rooms have fireplaces in them and there is a large 22 person dining room with a fireplace. But you can check those details out here: https://goodmedicinelodge.com.
Some B&B’s have a lot of history to share. For example, they might be set in an old Victorian home with antiques and historical references for guests to enjoy. Perhaps maybe an ex-President had stayed there once before or maybe the home belonged to someone of historical importance.
Many B&B’s these days offer a pool or hot tub, cable television, WIFI, laundry facilities and shuttle services. Many of them outdo their hotel competitors by offering luxury linens and toiletries, gym memberships, in room fireplaces and many “hang out spots” with a cozy chair by the fire with complimentary hot chocolate.
Best of all, B&B’s all offer amazing breakfast! This is by far my most favorite thing about a Bed and Breakfast. The breakfast can be anything from a continental-style breakfast with some bonus items all the way up to a decadent “best meal of your life” made by an in-house chef. Our particular B&B offers a two to three meal option where you sign up the day before with your selection. We typically offer something savory or sweet and something healthy or rich but filling in either case. Some guests stay for longer periods of time, which is what gave us the idea to offer something a little less heavy. We also serve fresh baked pastries every morning that pairs nicely with our local and organic coffee by Black Coffee Roasting Co.
Bed and Breakfasts are typically very good at doing both the bed and the breakfast. I mean, it is their namesake. And when you are in search for a place to sleep you should be very careful not to just look for the cheapest room. After all, you are most likely spending quite a lot of money already on your trip as well as using your very precious vacation time to splurge on what might possibly be your one and only vacation that year. So why not opt to spend just a little more money and effort finding that perfect place? (And if it is during a slow season, you might find it is even cheaper than a hotel.) Not to mention, once you add in the cost of breakfast, in most cases you have ended up breaking even.
Still not convinced? Here is where B&B’s can really outshine their competitors when it comes to special requests. Most B&B’s offer prearranged romance packages and other exciting specials and deals that can help your stay more relaxing than you can imagine. Items like champagne and chocolates can be set up in your room or bikes and ski equipment can be prearranged for drop off before you arrive. B&B’s are also much more accommodating when it comes to celebrating a loved ones birthday or anniversary because most times when guests are visiting they are celebrating something like that. So it is expected and well executed. Most hotels do not go out of their way to help make your room special in this way. And if they do, they are probably charging you an arm and a leg to handle it for you. This is not to say that B&B’s do not charge extra. They sometimes do and really need to to help cover their bottom line, but it just comes so much easier to them than to a large hotel.
Have you forgotten an item at home? No problem. A B&B has you covered. And in some cases, so do hotels (possibly for a fee) but chances are the B&B will have quite the supply hidden in their back room full of toothpaste, razors, SPF, and just about anything you can imagine. At our Inn, we have a bin full of miscellaneous items like sewing kits, reading glasses, bathing suits and even bear spray. Yes, we actually lend out bear spray for our guests to take with them when they head out on the trails. This is Northwestern Montana after all.
Many B&B’s go way above and beyond what any hotel would do for their guests. For example, at our Bed and Breakfast we offer fresh baked cookies every single day. We even do a Gluten Free variety, which has become some of our most favored by everyone including our non-Gluten Free guests. We also have French Press, a self serve Nespresso machine, microwaves, mini fridges, an ice machine, ironing board and iron, loose tea, a full library, games and several other novelties available to you 24/7.
Inn Keepers have a genuine sense of wanting to please and in doing so can provide you with local concierge services. Since owning this B&B in Whitefish Montana, we have had several other local businesses reach out to ask us to promote their business. Small businesses all depend on each other and when they reach out like this, we all know who is going to be able to provide you with what you need and what you want. A larger hotel will never be able to outshine us in this way. The front desk is likely ran by someone who is just there to collect a paycheck and does not care where you rent your kayak or which tour guide is going to provide you with the best service. And if the front desk clerk happens to be a caring local who wants to help you they are likely not going to have the time to spend with you as a small Inn Keeper would because Inn Keepers know that it is crucial to the success of their business that they take care of their guest to the very best of their ability.
If you need a blanket because you are feeling chilly – done! If you prefer a down pillow because the synthetic one gives you neck pain – done! Oh, the hot tub is just a few degrees too hot for your liking – done! If you ask you are so much more likely to receive at a B&B than a hotel.
Now that I have provided you with all this new insight on the Bed and Breakfast world vs. hotels. I would encourage you to visit a B&B or two during your next vacation. And if the first one you visit isn’t your cup of tea, please try it again. I promise you will find one that just blows your mind. And please always book direct with the B&B’s official website or call them directly. You are going to get a better rate than with an Online Travel Agency (OTA). If you don’t, try calling them for a better rate. They will accommodate you because the OTA’s (booking.com, hotels.com, travelocity.com, etc..) are all charging them a huge commission to book through them.