Avocado coloured bathrooms, peeling paint, broken taps, nylon sheets and battleaxe landladies – these are the images that might spring to mind when thinking about bed and breakfast accommodation. But there are some fantastic B&Bs out there, offering comfortable accommodation at reasonable prices often in fantastic locations. So how do you dodge the dreary and find the fabulous?
Booking bed and breakfast accommodation can be tricky as they can differ so much in quality. It is vital to get it right, as where you stay is such an important part of a break away. Don’t worry though, there are measures you can take to ensure the bed and breakfast you book will be everything you hoped for.
Try and find some time to plan in advance. Perhaps you know people who have stayed at your chosen destination before. Find out from them whether they stayed at a local bed and breakfast and whether they would recommend it. Personal recommendations are so valuable because they are impartial and honest. If your friend had a great experience at a B&B, then why not book in there yourself?
However, if you are travelling somewhere your friends haven’t stayed before, there are some great websites offering frank reviews of B&Bs which also allow you to input your requirements in terms of location, facilities etc., generating a list of possibilities. Try www.bedandbreakfast.com, a site listing thousands of B&Bs worldwide. You could also try http://www.accommodations-around-the-world.com.
Many bed and breakfasts have their own websites which are a valuable source of information. You can have a look at the accommodation and location without having to go there in advance and this should help you get an idea of whether the B&B is suitable. A rough rule of thumb would be that the more information and photos available on the website, the more confident the owner is about the place.
A lot of websites allow you to book accommodation online, but it is worth calling the owners in advance. That way, you can gauge what sort of welcome you might receive. If the person on the other end of the phone is friendly, informative and well-mannered, this should reassure you that the service will be good when you arrive. Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions – this is your holiday and you want it to be great. If the owner is reluctant to answer any queries then this should set off warning bells!
Use this opportunity to ask particular questions pertaining to your needs, such as are there family rooms available if you have children, is breakfast included in the price (this is not always the case) and what sort of breakfast will be served, what time is breakfast and are there restrictions as to what time you can come and go at the accommodation. Many years ago, I stayed at a B&B where you weren’t allowed into your room between 11am and 5pm and the front door was locked at 10pm. Happily, this seems to be a rarity, but worth checking as you don’t want to be at the theatre only to return to your accommodation to find you can’t get in!
Hotels usually have en-suite facilities, but bed and breakfasts will not automatically offer this. You might find you have to share a bathroom with other guests which might not be to everyone’s liking! Remember, bed and breakfasts are usually converted houses, not purpose built like hotels. This is what gives them their intimacy and personal touch, but this means they tend to be smaller than hotels and cannot necessarily offer the same facilities.
Find out also about the location of the B&B. If you are looking forward to a city break, it would be preferable to find a centrally located bed and breakfast within easy access of the sights. Be wary when looking at websites as the B&B may look pretty in the photograph, but if it is situated right on a busy dual carriageway, you’re probably not going to get much peace! Of course, there are websites, such as multimap, which will allow you to type in the postcode of the accommodation so you can look for yourself where the B&B is located and whether it will be suitable for you.
Choosing a great bed and breakfast can be a minefield as there are so many to choose from, but with a little careful forward planning, you will more than likely discover a real gem offering a warm welcome and great value for money!