We’ve been wanting to write this for some time, now that people are traveling again and “Stay Small” is growing in popularity, we increasingly get questions about the B&B experience. Many recent guests admit they rarely stay in a B&B, followed by “and it was nothing like I expected”.
In one sentence, here’s what it’s like to stay at a B&B: You are our guest, while at a hotel you are a customer.
We often explain the B&B experience at the Flag House Inn as either an upscale hotel experience with a personal touch or simply “It’s like staying at your rich uncle’s house.”
How we got here: Working & travelling in the corporate world for decades, Marty was pretty much a Marriott guy with an occasional local hotel near a work site. When we lived in England in the 90’s we stayed at several B&B’s, mostly a room in a house with “English Breakfast” (fried eggs, bacon, canned baked beans and mushy grilled mushrooms/ tomatoes). We did stay in a few B&B’s on the Eastern Shore of MD and Charleston SC, but mostly Marriott & time share condos on vacation.
Once we got to Annapolis after buying the Flag House Inn, we had a vision of the experience we wanted to provide guests, formed by our own experiences. Our stereotype of a B&B was an elderly or eccentric innkeeper in a rumpled sweater sipping herbal tea. This view was fueled by the occasional articles about a bad experience in a B&B or how it is so awkward to interact with other guests (“strangers”), or an autocratic owner imposing their rules and style upon timid guests.
None of this could be farther from the truth at a quality B&B!!
The Modern B&B Experience
We’ve visited many B&B’s now that we’re owners, often ones that use the same marketing company (Acorn Internet Services) we use to keep it in the family. We all have a similar vision of:
- Comfortable, luxury accommodations
- Clean, clean, clean rooms & common areas
- Attentive, personal, responsive service
- Recommendations on anything and everything in the area: dining, shopping, activities, insider tips, and where do the locals go
- Interesting and friendly fellow guests
- Additional services and amenities such as fresh baked cookies, flowers/chocolates/wine in the room, connections for local tours & experiences, etc
- Delicious fresh cooked breakfasts, fresh coffee & tea, clean & comfortable bed, personal climate control, modern amenities including fast wi-fi, HD TV and lots of horizontal space for you
And all at a reasonable price. Yes, there might be lower price places but then you find you pay extra for parking and breakfast, in some cases those might not even be available….. Like everything else, you get what you pay for ( “Lowest price doesn’t mean best value”).
A good B&B will have frequent and recent online reviews, so you can listen to what past guests had to say. And we can provide that, especially now we have reopened post-COVID. (Check us out on Google or Trip Advisor)
The shared experience at a B&B with other guests is now a little different and more private. We can serve a “distanced breakfast so only one group per table and an early / late seating) but we take a lot of time to interact with you in the morning.
Have an early departure? We can pack a to-go breakfast bag. Want to sleep in late and go to Iron Rooster for brunch? That’s cool too (they have awesome Bloody Mary’s !). Just let us know you plan to skip breakfast so we aren’t waiting for you. Have a dietary request? Just let us know.
So how do you “behave” at a B&B – are there house rules? Nagging innkeepers? Check in with the owners each time you enter? No, no and no! While, yes, you are staying at our house, we have some expectations on quiet time, check out etc, we can be engaged or distant, whatever works for you. Want to share a glass of wine? Sure, we might already be sipping one! Want to chat for a few minutes on the way in or out? Yep, we love to do that if we’re around. Want to just go up to your room and minimize the chit-chat? No problem, all you’ll get is a wave from us if we are even around (we have a social and private life too)
In short we don’t have a lot of rules or expectations other than that you treat our place with respect and be kind & mindful to the other guests around you.
Start to Finish Tips
Here’s how to make your experience go easily from start to finish:
- Research: When booking, compare pricing on an “all-in” basis – many hotels or rentals don’t include all their fees and costs while a B&B often offers “all inclusive” pricing – find out about parking, breakfast, commissions, resort fees. AirBnB tacks on all sorts of costs after showing a seemingly low price in search results
- Book Direct – You will always get the best prices, most information and unending goodwill by booking direct on the B&B website. Modern B&B’s will have an intuitive reservation system with real time confirmation and secure credit card payment.
- Communicate: Let your host know about any dietary requests or other special requests when you book – often there is a space to enter this info. B&B’s are well suited for your needs whether it is gluten free, vegetarian/vegan, decaf, help with luggage, feather free environment, early/late check in etc
- Prepare: Follow the property on Facebook or Instagram. Don’t hesitate to ask for help in planning your visit – things to do, restaurants, what to book ahead etc. We are local and know the special events going on and we want to ensure you have a great experience in Annapolis
- Inform: On day of arrival, call/text your host to let them know an approximate time you plan to arrive and update them if you get stuck in traffic or a flight is delayed
- Check-in: Your host will have a standard way they check you in, show you the house, quick review on safety practices, breakfast time & menu, map of the area etc. Ask as many questions as you like. Our check in can be 2 to 15 minutes depending on your situation
- Update: While you are staying, don’t hesitate to make requests or ask additional requests. The most modern operations will have a texting service to stay in touch
- Accidents happen – if you spill or stain something, tell us – we’re going to find it and we really appreciate being told immediately so we can take action
- Departure: When it’s time to leave, respect check out times and be sure to see your hosts on the way out. They will want to thank you and ask for feedback. We love getting feedback on something that was missing or didn’t work right. We have made many tweaks to the rooms based on guest feedback.
- Tipping? – While we don’t expect a tip, it’s certainly appreciated – Our cleaners do an amazing job and if you liked the room and the experience, think about the people who made it possible
- Share your experience: After you leave, strongly consider leaving a review on Trip Advisor, Google, or any of the online reservation systems if that’s how you booked (Expedia, booking.com, AirBnB, etc). Future guests use reviews to decide where to stay and hosts rely on reviews to attract future bookings and prove their value. You can pay it forward. We understand that not everyone is on the social platforms, so see the next point
- Refer & Recommend: If you liked your experience, recommend to your friends, or post on your own page and tag the property. Here’s another chance to follow the property on Instagram or Facebook.
Even better, come back again for another stay!
We hope this helped get over your concerns about staying at a Bed & Breakfast, especially the Flag House Inn. Start planning your stay now 🙂
Marty & Carmel
Links & Stories
Some Pics Around Our B&B