Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Things to Ask Before Booking a B&B

Bill Clinton Room at the Presidents' Quarters Inn

When you’re looking to get away from your busy everyday life and enjoy the luxuries of home away from home, a bed and breakfast may be just the right place to stay. Bed and breakfasts are usually run with a more personalized approach to lodging as they are owned by private individuals who often live on or near the premises- making them quainter and more intimate than most hotels. Many bed and breakfasts are converted homes of historical significance, adding to their charm and intrigue. If you’re looking for the perfect bed and breakfast for your next venture, below are some questions you should consider before booking. Having answers to these questions will enable you to choose the best B&B for you and your loved ones, make the most of your stay, and avoid uncomfortable or frustrating situations that could have been avoided with more information ahead of time. Happy travels!

•    What kind of payment do they accept? Some bed and breakfasts will accept credit cards to reserve your room online, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll accept one for the room bill. If they do take credit cards, check what kinds. Make sure you have cash if required to avoid the hassle of having to find an ATM unexpectedly.
•    Are there lower rates than those listed online? Some B&Bs will give you a discount for booking in advance online. Others will give you a discount for asking about lower rates if you pay the bill in cash. Call the inn directly to get a straight answer.
•    Do they offer discounted tickets to local attractions? Sometimes, inns have worked out special deals with popular attractions in the area for their guests. Before purchasing tickets to your must-see destinations, see if you can save a few dollars by buying them from where you’re staying.

•    Is the B&B someone’s home where they simply rent out rooms, or is it a separate business that offers some privacy? Depending on what you’re looking for in a getaway, the amount of privacy and space can be important factors in how comfortable and satisfied you are with your stay.
•    Is the inn located near a busy street, highway, or intersection? If you’re a light sleeper, this can be a huge factor in how much shut eye you get. Ask if they have rooms available on the opposite side of the house that may be quieter.
•    Is the B&B pet-friendly? Some bed and breakfasts allow guests to bring small pets. The rules for this vary significantly from place to place- but if you or someone you’ll be staying with has allergies, it’s always better to avoid an unpleasant situation.
•    Are rooms located on different floors? If you’re booking multiple rooms, you may want to ask for adjoining rooms, or adjacent to one another to avoid the hassle of running up and down the stairs sharing toiletries or figuring out plans. If you physically have trouble going up the stairs, ask for a room located on the first or second floor.
•    What size and type of beds do they have? Looking at pictures online does not always give you a good indication of the real size. If you’re staying with multiple people, it’s important that everyone has somewhere comfortable to sleep.

•    Does the B&B offer laundry services? If so, how much do they cost and how does it work? Where is the closest laundry mat? When staying somewhere for more than a night or two, you may have clothes you’d like to wash. It may be worth it to you to use the bed and breakfast's services to avoid wasting precious time doing laundry yourself when you could be relaxing or sightseeing.
•    Do they have hair dryers? Are they free, or do they have to be rented out? Ladies, this can save room in your suitcase and prevent a bad hair day in those pictures you’ll want to look back on.
•    Do the rooms all have television with cable? If you enjoy having a TV for late-night viewing, it can be disappointing to find out they don’t have the entertainment options you wanted. Ask ahead to avoid missing an important game or show you love.
•    Does the B&B have complementary internet? Do they have Wi-Fi in any of the rooms? If you need to check in on business matters while you’re away, having internet access can be a huge factor to consider when choosing the right accommodations. If they offer it for a charge, find out how much it is, and ask if there are any cyber cafes located nearby.
•    Is the bed and breakfast air conditioned? Do they provide fans during warmer months? If the answer is no, you may want to pass unless you’re okay with the possibility of hot nights and minimal air circulation.
•    Does the inn have a communal kitchen? Some B&Bs will allow you to make your own meals as long as you provide the ingredients. In such cases, it is also good to ask where the closest grocery store is located.

•    What time is check-in? Does it matter if I am running late? Many bed and breakfast desk receptionists will leave for dinner or close the office at a certain time for the night. It would be terrible to show up half an hour late only to find you’re out of luck because no one is there to open the door.
•    What is the latest I can return to the room at night? Some bed and breakfasts do not want you to come in after a certain time because they lock the doors for security.
•    Does the B&B offer meal options? If so, are reservations required? Some B&Bs have delicious restaurants you can eat at for a very reasonable price.
•    What time is it served, and what does it include? Most bed and breakfasts serve breakfast for an hour or two and ask you to let them know when you plan on eating due to limited dining space. If you have dietary restrictions, be sure to notify them in advance to ensure it is not a problem.

•    Is vehicle transportation required to go into town? How much does taxi fare run? Is there public transportation nearby? Staying at a pricier inn downtown may be most cost-effective in the long run when factoring in the cost of taxi rides or gas.
•    If the B&B is within walking distance, is there a well-lit sidewalk to use? For safety reasons, it’s important to make sure that there will be street lamps if you’ll be returning in the dark.
•    Is parking provided on-site? Are there any fees or potential problems to be aware of? Some B&Bs provide parking for a daily rate, while others allow you to park for free. Additionally, some have free parking on the street during certain hours, but not moving it by a certain time means you’ll end up with a ticket.

This guest post was written by Lauren from Presidents’ Quarters Inn, a historic bed and breakfast located in downtown Savannah, Georgia.