Let me start by saying that I design websites for bed and breakfast providers. I have been inside many establishments, photographed them from all angles, sampled the food, experienced the problem of finding them if they are off the beaten track and spent time with their owners.
Sometimes I have felt like The Hotel Inspector. Sometimes I have buttoned my lip and said nothing, occasionally I’ve politely voiced my concerns. If I’ve spotted something amiss it is a pretty certain bet that guests will also and will be only too keen to say on Trip Advisor or social media.
There’s a clue in that last sentence if you’re researching Bed and Breakfast providers. Look them up on Trip Advisor. What experiences have previous guests needed?
Were the owners friendly and helpful, or did they act like they didn’t want guests in their home?
Was the place peaceful or were you looking onto a main road and a building website?
Have a look at how owners react to negative comments. Remember, disgruntled guests and those who need to complain about the smallest thing are those most likely to post. Did their complaints seem valid and how did the owner respond?
I always tell my website customers that bed and breakfast customers shop with their eyes. Guests want to find out what the place they’re coming to resembles. What the rooms look like, what the shower rooms look like, what the view from their window is going to be, what the food looks like.
If those photos aren’t on a provider’s site, or they’re grainy and out of focus, ask yourself why that might be? If the website hasn’t been updated in years, might that tell you something.
Generally speaking, you get what you pay for. A B&B that costs #45 a night for two people probably won’t be as smart or as spacious as one that charges #145 a night. Lower pricing doesn’t need to imply that rooms are dirty and facilities do not work.
Look to see if the room(s) you are reserving have their own en-suite facilities or have shared facilities. There seems to be an increasing trend in britain for a roll top bath to be placed in the bedroom. If you are young and in love, you could be very happy to bathe together or to have your spouse watching. But would you be so keen if you are two buddies using the room as a double room? Or parent and child sharing a room?
In case you have pets check that dogs are welcome. If in doubt, call the owners and ask.
In case you’ve got young children, check the B&B is kid friendly. You don’t want to find that the establishment does not accept children and have your holiday ruined. Respect those who don’t accept kids – they’ve had a bad experience, they could have elderly owners, they may specifically run a kid free institution.
Some establishments will provide a”room only” rate. This could be what you want if you’re staying only one night and have an early start. Or maybe you’re one of those people that simply doesn’t eat breakfast.
Make sure that you know what size the bed is. For some couples this isn’t a problem, but if one or both of you is tall, or a little on the wide side, you might prefer a larger size double bed – king or super king size.
Check what facilities are offered in the restroom. If you have mobility problems you may prefer a different, walk-in shower. Make sure that you read the owner’s description and if in doubt, email or phone to check.
Most B&Bs are happy to cater to special dietary requirements. Not telling the proprietor your special requirements until you sit down to breakfast contributes to embarrassment. Most owners will want to fulfill your needs and will feel angry and embarrassed if they can not – advance notice ensures that the food your require will be available when you want it.
Examine the location of the B&B. You may want peace and quiet in an isolated, rural location. Or you might choose to stay somewhere that is more easily accessible to the local sights and does not involve a 10 mile drive up and down the valley to reach it each day. An online mapping service will usually offer you a pretty accurate location and there might even be Street View so that you can see the place where you’re planning to stay.
In the UK there’s one site that lists most of the accommodation local to a choice of small towns – B&Bs, self catering and hotels. Unlike other sites that list hotels nationwide, or self catering nationally, this website focuses on listing all the lodging in a defined local area.