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Going to Europe? Consider a Bed and Breakfast


For many people, the term “bed and breakfast” conjures images of calico covered rooms, creaky antique furniture and enforced socialization. At some B&Bs, this stereotype isn’t far off the mark (a peek at the B&Bs website will make it instantly obvious). But at others, rooms decked out in garish floral patterns and delicate doilies have been replaced with chic, modern rooms accented with contemporary art and subdued color palettes. Here, awkward social interactions and overbearing staff are replaced with service that is available but nearly invisible and breakfasts and cocktail hours where guests can choose to socialize at communal tables or enjoy solitude in their own private enclaves.

B and B in Spain

B and B in Spain

Choose from hip B&Bs that feature funky local art, romantic B&Bs with luxurious bedding and working fireplaces or full-service B&Bs that offer activities and local tours. With bed and breakfasts now offering accommodations just as stylish and modern as hotels, there’s no reason not to stay at one. If you’re still not convinced, here are a few more reasons why bed and breakfasts are worth a second look.

B&Bs Provide Personalized Service

Most bed and breakfasts have only a few rooms so, unlike at a mega-hotel, you aren’t just yet another faceless guest. Guests celebrating special occasions are more likely to receive extra perks and owners, who have more of a vested interest in the B&B’s success than an employee, are quick to go out of their way to solve any problems and ensure you have a perfect stay. During a recent B&B stay in Spain, the hosts surprised us all with several bottles of champagne to enjoy while we prepared for our night out celebrating New Year’s Eve. Chatting with them and the other guests about New Year’s Eve traditions around the world is an experience not likely to be had at a larger hotel.

Spain Bed and Breakfast

Spain Bed and Breakfast

B&B Owners Give You Inside Information

With hundreds of guests arriving weekly, if not daily, chances are that the staff of a large hotel aren’t going to go out of their way to help orient you to the area. At bed and breakfasts however, most visits begin with a helpful primer on the city, including information on how to get around, local customs, and, perhaps most importantly, the lowdown on the best restaurants and cafes nearby. While staying at another lovely B&B in Spain, the owner recommended that my husband and I try one of her favorite restaurants. Though I hadn’t seen it recommended in any of the pre-trip research I’d done, we took her advice and tried it, and it ended up being the best meal of our entire trip.

Guesthouse Sunna in Reykjavik

Guesthouse Sunna in Reykjavik

B&Bs are Often Cheaper

There are exceptions of course, but bed and breakfasts are generally cheaper than hotels. The money goes directly to the owners, who may run the B&B entirely on their own or with the help of one or two staff members. Bed and breakfasts also generally offer fewer amenities, like spas and fitness centers, than hotels. Without all the extra staff people to pay and extra amenities to fund, B&Bs can afford to charge less. Many will also offer discounts to those willing to pay in cash.  A recent B&B stay in Reykjavik cost only $60 a night, compared to the average $120 a night price at nearby hotels. Parking is usually free as well.

B&B kitchen

B&B kitchen

B&Bs are Often Located in Residential Areas

Bed and breakfasts are often located in current or former residences in areas where the locals actually live, so you may gain a deeper understanding of every day life in a region. Large hotels are often located a city’s downtown area, closer to the tourist attractions, and to all the tourists. While in some cities downtown is the place to be, in others it can make for a more expensive and less authentic experience.

B&Bs Give You Freebies

It’s right there in the name – bed and “breakfast”. And at most places, this isn’t your standard continental either. Offerings vary of course, but I’ve seen everything from local pastries, meats and cheese, to made-to-order omelettes using fresh cheese and local herbs (as was served at a B&B outside of Tuscany). After indulging in a hearty breakfast spread of regional specialties, you’ll hardly need to eat for several hours.  Some B&Bs go beyond just breakfast, adding on afternoon tea and evening wine or cocktail hours as well and offering extras like free wi-fi. When my husband and I stayed at a B&B in Venice and had a very early morning outbound flight, the owners even packed us a to-go breakfast of muffins, scones, juice and granola.

B&B Breakfast

B&B Breakfast

B&Bs are Greener

Staying at a B&B can reduce your carbon footprint. Many of the practices that B&B owners use to cut down on operating costs, like only washing bedding weekly or between guests, also just happen to make them greener than large hotels. Smaller overall area means less energy used to heat and cool the building, and with no 24-hour lobby and reception areas to keep brilliantly illuminated all night, less electricity is used each day.

B&B’s We Recommend

La Limonaia in Tuscany

La Limonaia in Tuscany


Barcelona – Solyk

San Sebastian – Pension Bellas Artes


Reykjavik – Guesthouse Sunna


Tuscany – La Limonaia

Written by Katie Hammel for

B&B Normandy

Wednesday 28th of October 2009

Whilst as a B&B owner I have to agree with a lot of this, please don't get your hopes up for free bottles of champagne and discounts for cash - the latter suggests the owners are distinctly dodgy!

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