Why I hate B&Bs

Julie Garagliano explains why she prefers anonymous hotel rooms to teddy bears, claw-foot bathtubs, breakfast quiches and shared bonhomie.


Julie Garagliano
October 2, 1998 11:00PM (UTC)

Let me say right up front that I make my living from bed and breakfast places. I don't own one or run one, but I work with dozens of them and I am grateful for the meager income they afford me. That said, I must state the truth: I hate B&Bs.

Yes, I know they are cozy, romantic, inviting, tranquil, peaceful, restorative and always comfortable. Yes, I realize that they are nestled into a lush garden, perched on a bluff overlooking the ocean, situated in a secluded forest setting, sheltered by weathered pines, tucked away on a tree-lined country road. And yes, I have seen their down-covered beds, their cathedral ceilings of aged pine, their antique claw-foot bathtubs and their used-brick fireplaces, and I have tasted their sumptuous breakfasts, their signature pancakes and their abundant array of breakfast treats at the harvest dining table. And I still hate them.

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Why people flock to a bed and breakfast confounds me. They say they want romance. What is romantic about listening to strangers in the next room argue about who was supposed to make dinner reservations? Where is the romance in sharing your moans and other sexual noises with the people on the other side of the wall? You have to see these people at breakfast the next morning, and you know they are going to identify you as the guy who likes to be spanked.

People say they want privacy, they need to get away, they are trying to renew their relationship. There is very little privacy in a B&B. The innkeepers greet you when you arrive, they serve you breakfast in the morning and they clean your room when you are out in the afternoon. The other guests are also always in the way. They share the living room with you, the outside deck, the hot tub, the breakfast table and, in some cases, they share the bathroom with you. Your room is private, of course, but you can't walk around the house in your underwear, you can't flush the toilet without someone else hearing it, you can't swear loudly at midnight because you can't find the condom you so desperately need at that moment, and you can't spend the day in bed because some innkeeper wants to "refresh" your room. This is not privacy, this is modified dorm living.

What is the big deal about having someone cook you breakfast in the morning? Restaurants do this every day and they do a better job. Most B&Bs have three or four centerpiece breakfast dishes, and they just rotate them: Day One is a baked creation with bread and cheese and ham, soaked overnight and served in squares with fresh fruit. Day Two is either a quiche or a frittata, with onions, peppers, sometimes cheese, served with home-fried potatoes and fresh fruit. Day Three is French toast or pancakes, served with fresh fruit. Day Four, if you are so lucky to stay that long, starts over again with the baked creation. No one gives you bacon or ham anymore because meat products are not good for you. Coffee is either insipid or so strong you can clean the rust off your car bumpers with it. The juice is often some cute thing like mango-tangerine. Sometimes you actually get real, fresh-squeezed orange juice, but not often. And when you do, you get a thimbleful, and there are no refills in B&Bs.

B&Bs are usually too cute and too uncomfortable for my taste. Too many teddy bears, too much lace, too much potpourri and too many delicate antiques that defy comfort. I have been in rooms that featured four different kinds of wallpaper. This is the stuff nightmares are made of. I have been in rooms that would give Laura Ashley a nervous breakdown with the chintz and lace and prints and canopied beds. Most rooms tend to be small, sometimes bordering on cramped. Often they cross that border, and you need to go out into the hallway if you want to open your suitcase all the way. B&B owners do not believe in closets, and so there is no place to hang your coat except in the ancient armoire, and even then you have to squeeze it in sideways because that lovely antique is only eight inches deep.

Give me a good hotel any night of the year. Let me have my anonymous room with its nailed-down lamps and generic art prints, its bad pillows but firm bed, cable TV and remote control. Let me have room service at any hour of the day or night and alcoholic beverages brought to my room upon demand. Most of all, let me have my privacy, my own safe haven away from everyone else trying to escape their everyday lives. I love the Do Not Disturb sign. Even a chain motel has its charms, with its own little coffeemaker with really bad coffee that you can drink sitting on the bed, in your underwear. If you hear the folks in the next room, at least you don't have to sit across from them the next morning, making polite conversation while trying to guess which one of the couples did the "bark like a dog, honey" routine all night long.

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Romance? There are few things more romantic than a room that doesn't care if you drop damp towels on the floor, that doesn't care if you leave empty wine bottles scattered about and doesn't care if you crust up the sheets. Do what you want to a room like that and it just comes back for more. No teddy bears to knock over, no antique bed frames to break, no knickknacks to get in the way of a good romp.

So, go to your cute, quaint, precious, antique-ridden B&B and try to have a good time. Then check into a downtown hotel and check out the difference. Night and day. Trust me.


Julie Garagliano

Julie Garagliano lives in Northern California.

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