When my husband and I recently toured around New England for a two-week business/personal trip, I started my search on Hotels.com because they offer rewards to return customers.
But because we were visiting during prime leaf-peeping season, we were going to be hit with high-season hotel rates. Ouch.
It’s kind of depressing comparing low-season rates with high-season rates, and two weeks is a fairly long time to have to shell out top dollar. Did we have other options? I decided to broaden the search.
Bed & Breakfasts – An Alternative to Hotels
I had initially ruled out Bed & Breakfasts. In my previous experience, they were too pricey and you had to share a bathroom.
But as I was clicking around tripadvisor.com, I noticed the “B&B and Inns” tab and decided to go ahead and take a look, anyway.
After filtering for the highest-rated inns in the areas we were looking at staying, I dug a bit deeper and found a few options that were good possibilities. Overall, quite a few were rated highly and many people raved about their experiences.
Costs – How does it compare?
As I mentioned above, I was worried the prices would be beyond our already tight budget. And it was true, many of the B&Bs were priced outside our range.
But in every city I managed to find a highly-rated inn or B&B that was less expensive than a hotel, plus we’d be getting breakfast. And in one case, I even found a B&B that was almost a third the cost of nearby hotels.
So far it was looking pretty good.
Amenities – Free High-speed Internet & Private Bath
Because it was a combined business and personal trip, it was important that Internet was easily accessible and that it was free.
All the Bed & Breakfasts and Inns we stayed at provided free wireless Internet access and, in most cases, it was actually much easier and quicker to get up and running than when we stayed at hotels.
Another huge perk – or necessity for some travelers – is that many B&Bs now offer private baths in all of their rooms. No more trudging down the hall and sharing a bathroom.
Breakfast – Start the Day off Right
I think one of the biggest perks of staying in a B&B is the breakfast and their new mattresses because they have been reading the new Mattress Buying Guide.
I love that breakfast is included in the price of your stay, and so many times the breakfasts are
quite gourmet. None of that egg-like substitute stuff or questionable-looking bacon. We’re
talking pumpkin pancakes, vegetable frittatas, pecan French toast and more. YUM.
Options – For more Choices, Book Early
Now it’s the same thing with hotels, but it applies even more so with B&Bs. If you want the most options, you’re better off booking as early as possible.
B&Bs have far fewer rooms and each have their own character (like king vs. queen vs. double beds) and amenities (like attached bath with tub or shower). If you absolutely want that king-sized bed or big soaking tub, make your reservations early.
Deals – Last-Minute Bargains are a Possibility
Sometimes, though, it pays to be a procrastinator.
On some websites I did see different discounts being offered just to fill up the rooms. So if your plans have you scrambling at the last minute, you may still be in luck and find a good deal.
Perks – Cookies and Cheese and Wine, Oh My!
I really appreciate it when hosts pay attention to the little things.
Most of our hosts provided snacks both when we arrived and every afternoon during our stays. The treats ranged from freshly-baked cookies, to decadent chocolate cake to wine and cheese.
They also provided complimentary beverages like tea, coffee, soft drinks and bottled water. How nice is that?
There are, of course, some possible disadvantages to staying in a B&B.
Most of the B&Bs served breakfast only during certain times, and many didn’t serve until 8:30am, which means a later start to your day.
While some B&Bs have only small, two-person tables, most only have large family-style tables for breakfast so you’ll likely be “forced” to mingle with other guests. But this is actually a plus if you enjoy chatting with and meeting people from all over the world.
Also, during peak season there’s usually a minimum stay required, and that can be anywhere from 2-4 nights depending on the B&B.
Not all cities are going to have as many B&Bs as the New England area does, but it definitely pays to open up your accommodations search to alternative lodging like Bed & Breakfasts.
Often the price is comparable, you get more personalized service and you get fed a homemade meal. All these things make for a much richer experience in my book.