If you're looking for an alternative to anonymous hotel rooms when you're traveling, a bed-and-breakfast can be a wonderful change of pace. However, the experience of renting a room at a B&B can be quite different from staying in a hotel, and many travelers new to the bed-and-breakfast experience can find themselves wondering if they're making etiquette mistakes. Take a look at some important, but often unwritten, bed-and-breakfast etiquette rules.
Don't Ignore The Schedules
Bed and breakfast establishments are often private residences or very small establishments with few, if any, employees aside from the owners and other family members who reside in the house full time. Most are not set up to accommodate a 24-hour a day, 7-day a week schedule.
That means that if the B&B closes for business at 9 pm, don't expect to arrive unannounced at 10:30 pm to check in – you're likely dragging the owner out of bed. If breakfast is served between 8 am and 10 am, don't roll out of bed at noon expecting a home-cooked meal. By that time, your host has already finished cooking and washed the dishes.
That doesn't mean that you can't ask for special accommodations. If your flight is delayed and you know you'll arrive late, call and let the owners know – chances are that someone will stay up to greet you. Want to sleep in? Your host may be willing to save you a breakfast plate to warm up later if you ask the night before, or at least point you in the direction of a local restaurant where you can get a late breakfast. Treat your B&B host like you would a friend – don't expect them to drop everything to accommodate your every whim, but don't be afraid to politely ask for a favor, either.
Be Open to Socializing
Part of the point of a B&B is to get a more personalized experience. Bed-and-breakfast owners like Stone Hearst are often knowledgeable about the local area and interested in meeting new people, and guests generally book a stay in a B&B with at least some expectation of mingling with other guests.
If you want to take meals out or alone in your room and come and go without comment, you may be more comfortable in a hotel. But if you've decided to give the bed-and-breakfast experience a try, commit to being sociable with the hosts and other guests. You may be surprised how much you enjoy it, and it's a great way to get ideas about where to go and what to do during your stay.
Know When and Whether to Tip
Knowing whether or not to tip at a B&B can be confusing, and the answer really varies depending on the establishment. If all the work is being done by the owners of the bed-and-breakfast, then tipping is really not expected. Owners usually serve the breakfasts and tipping them the way that you would a server at a restaurant would be highly unusual. If you're pleased with the service and want to leave a tip or bonus at the end of your stay, it will likely be appreciated, but not expected.
Some larger bed-and-breakfast establishments do hire outside help to clean guest rooms and do other tasks. If this is the case at your B&B, then you can tip the housekeeping staff the way that you would at a hotel. Of course, these tips are completely optional, and it's likely that housekeepers at a B&B are not dependent on tips the way that hotel housekeepers often are. Some B&Bs have no-tipping policies, in which case you should respect that and hang on to your cash.
Don't be afraid to ask your hosts for guidance if you're not sure what to expect. They'll be happy to help you get into the spirit of things, and that will make your stay more enjoyable.