According to the Association of Independent Hospitality Professionals, the bed and breakfast industry is growing regardless of the inflow of accommodations and the increased prominence of short-term holiday rentals. With nearly 20 thousand properties across the U.S., what exactly are B&Bs, and how did they originate?
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The first bed and breakfast (B&B) came about in colonial America in the 18th century. As there were few lodging options available, travelers and tourists had difficulty finding somewhere to stay.
During the Great Depression, B&Bs became a means for property owners to generate revenue and for commuters to save cash. Further influenced by Europeans, after WWII bed and breakfasts became even more prevalent in the states.
Many private homeowners rent out spare rooms to travelers, and they typically provide a complimentary hot meal for those who stay there. There are generally no more than ten rooms at a B&B.
Having a private bathroom in the guest room is also commonplace. There are also situations in which the establishment offers a specific room used by all of the occupants. Hosts traditionally serve breakfast to the guest’s bedroom or in the dining area or kitchen. Often the breakfasts are well made and something the hosts take pride in.
Bed and breakfasts have been around since the start of time, albeit in a more primitive form. There have been reports of monasteries providing lodging for weary travelers as recently as the Middle Ages. Travelers in rural areas were more likely to stay overnight in a private residence than an inn before the 20th century.
While this arrangement existed before the 19th century, it hinged on social status and acquaintances. Doctors and pharmacists may share a room, while noblemen may stay with their peers.
Even though B&Bs were commonplace worldwide for a long time, America didn’t use them until people started traveling west. When traveling across America, the pioneers took shelter in households, lodgings, and taverns along the way.
They referred to the dwellings as bed and breakfasts. For other nations, these entities might go by different names like pousadas, minshukus, sukkos, and more.
Bed and breakfasts were renamed “boarding houses” during the Great Depression when several house owners opened their homes to tourists to get more money for their families.
In the early 1950s bed and breakfasts were dubbed “tourist homes” and viewed as overnight halts for poor commuters or runaways.
Today, thanks to the increasing number of Americans traveling to Europe and staying in B&Bs, the B&B has been “rediscovered” in the United States.
Nowadays, bed and breakfasts generally comprise breakfast with the room’s cost, have a distinct personality, four to eleven rooms, and present an extraordinary lodging experience compared to a regular hotel or motel. Many bed and breakfasts are no longer simply affordable options as they compete in a crowded tourism market.
People choose bed and breakfasts over hotels and motels because of their uniqueness and cozy, home-like feel.
Every time you book a room at a particular hotel or motel chain, you check into the same experience. If you’re looking for a place to stay that’s a little more unique than your average hotel room, then a bed and breakfast might be the best option for you.
B&Bs can also help visitors get a sense of where they’re going and reflect the vibes of the area around them.
Customer service at B&Bs is excellent, and it’s those small touches that make a stay memorable.
Except for a stay with family, no other lodging option provides a pleasant bed and breakfast environment. The innkeepers can spend time with you and make sure you have everything you need because there aren’t a lot of other guests to cater to.
It could be arranging for a gluten-free, vegan, or vegetarian breakfast or securing a table for dinner at an exclusive, local restaurant. When staying at a B&B, it’s all about the little touches of hospitality, like fresh flowers in your room and homemade desserts in the dining area.
Bed and breakfasts serve a hot breakfast, and it’s usually quite tasty! Hotel breakfasts aren’t nearly as filling as those offered at a B&B. With the aroma of coffee and bacon wafting through the air, sit down with your fellow guests for a chef-choice breakfast to set the tone for the day.
A great breakfast is just as crucial to the host as excellent customer service. You can even get your breakfast on the go from many B&Bs, which is as accommodating as ever!
The B&B experience frequently includes joint meals with other exciting guests as part of the overall package of services. For those who don’t want to start chatting up other guests before they’ve had their first cup of coffee, check to see if the bed and breakfast you’re considering has room service, two-person breakfast tables, or multiple places to eat like on the patio or even in the garden.
The bed in a B&B is often a four-poster bed with plush linens and luxurious comforters. It’s not uncommon for your room to have a fireplace or a cozy chair as well, helping you to unwind before bed.
To bring you back to a simpler time, B&Bs are known for their distinctively decorated guest rooms, which often feature old-fashioned décor. Decorations such as ornate rugs and medieval-era lamps make you feel like you’re a guest staying at a friend’s house.
You assume that these retro and country-chic accents mean a lack of modern conveniences, however. Refreshments, parking, TV, and free Wi-Fi are usually on offer. Some B&Bs even have a pool!
When staying at a B&B, the décor is just one part of the overall story. Learn more about the history of the inn you’re staying at while having a delicious breakfast.
The Beekman Arms and Delamater Inn has been welcoming visitors to the Hudson Valley from before the Revolutionary War. You can still have iconic vacations at the property, which has been open since 1766, preserving some of its colonial elegance while providing modern amenities.
William Traphagen opened the Traphagen Tavern, a traveler’s inn, in 1704 at the village’s juncture. When they first established the property, Native Americans were still living in the area. The Dutch had been settling the area since the 1680s, when the King’s Highway, presently recognized as Route 9, crossed the Sepasco Trail to the Hudson River in Westchester County. Beekman Arms was part of the local pub in 1766, which has been in operation since.
The Beekman family was the inspiration for the name. As one of the first British landowners in the Hudson Valley, Judge Henry Beekman was a prominent figure at the time. He decided to expand his father’s real estate holdings and occupied them with asylum seekers from Europe’s Palatine-Rhine area.
During the Revolutionary War, Alexander Hamilton, Benedict Arnold, and George Washington all stayed at this prominent, historic property.
The following characteristics are what intrigue guests who seek B&B lodgings:
- Rich, historic surroundings with a healthy dose of luxury
- Meals prepared in a more traditional manner
- A place where guests can talk to one another (optional)
- The ability to draw upon local expertise regarding the best places to visit and things to do in the area
To learn more about what makes a B&B special, researchers questioned scores of guests who stayed at some of these facilities to find out. When it came to choosing a place to stay, friendliness and convenience were two of the most critical factors. B&B’s tend to be privately owned, unlike the typical commercial hotel, making them inherently more friendly.
The history of B&Bs shows that they continue to benefit both their guests and their innkeepers. Visitors can take a break while still feeling at home in the surroundings.
Bed and breakfast operators have the potential to create a successful business, build friendships and connections, experience new cultures and ways of life, and teach their patrons about their lifestyle and culture through their establishments.
Due to a rise in disposable income, travelers are seeking shorter, more frequent trips that offer plenty of activities.
Shorter breaks – think one week or a weekend – are becoming increasingly popular, as they reduce time away from the office and the disruption vacations cause. Many people are looking for a more genuine and personal experience on a brief hiatus, so bed and breakfast vacations can profit from this growing trend.