Helpful Hints for First Time Bed and Breakfast Guests

Never been to a bed and breakfast inn?  Get ready for a great time – and a memory you’ll create that will last a lifetime. Not sure the right questions to ask when you book your first reservation.  Here are some helpful hints to make your first visit one to remember.

innkeepergreatoak(1)Your innkeepers are opening their home or country inn to you and will do anything they can to guarantee your return visit.  Before calling to make your reservation, make a short list of questions to ask the innkeeper.  And if you get an answering machine, don’t worry, your innkeeper is anxious to respond to your inquiry but may be preparing a meal or getting a guest settled in their room.

 If your inn is in a town that you’ve never visited and you’re not sure what activities or attractions to visit, your innkeepers can act as your own personal concierge team.  Many of your hosts have lived in the area for years and are experts about all the things you can do and places to visit in the area.  Most inns will have brochures or other information that you’ll be able to study and take with you.  In many cases, your innkeepers will be happy to make reservations or book tickets for any dining or area attractions with no extra fee.

Owners of the Reluctant Panther Inn & Restaurant recall a favorite story about a man (late 20’s) who called to get our help in setting up just the right proposal evening for him and his girlfriend–soon to be fiancée, he hoped.  He wanted it to be both memorable and romantic, and wanted the whole thing to be a surprise.  Needless to say, the entire staff at the inn got into the act.  We spent numerous phone calls with him ironing out the exact details such as when they would arrive, what kind of champagne to have chilling in the room…the color of the rose petals on the bed…the fact that the fireplace in the bedroom as well as the one in the bathroom both had to have roaring fires going…and exactly how quickly to leave them alone in the room after check-in!  In anticipation of her saying yes, we also arranged to have a fireplace table in our restaurant for an especially romantic dinner.  Frankly, my staff and I were unsure of his success until they came into the restaurant–with him beaming a huge grin, and with her dangling her left hand in front of her.   We’re pretty sure that she never suspected that their “weekend getaway” was anything other than that.  This is the kind of thing that smaller places such as our can do–extraordinarily personal service.  in the outcome!).

Highland Lake Inn - North Carolina

Highland Lake Inn – North Carolina

The guest services staff at Highland Lake Inn in Flat Rock, North Carolina, has had some interesting requests, as well as spur of the moment opportunities to make a guest’s day. “We recently drove a guest’s laptop computer that he had left in his room to the airport,” said Lori Bryant, guest services representative.  “We placed it in his hands right before he boarded his plane. He was one happy guy.”

Placing flowers or chocolates or champagne in a guest’s room isn’t that unusual.  Unless the guest decided after florist shops were closed that he needed to surprise his wife with flowers. “One of our staff members drove to the nearby Fresh Market and purchased $25 worth of flowers.  He brought them back to the inn and designed a bouquet especially for the guest’s wife,” said Bryant. “It rivaled any florist shop’s creation!”

“Sometimes, especially on a Saturday morning,” said Bonnie Chiles, guest services manager for Highland Lake Inn, “We have guests who come in and haven’t planned any activities during their stay. We take the time to find out what their interests are and help them make decisions based on those conversations. We have a large selection of brochures and maps and have directions and contacts for just about any attraction or activity in our area.  We’re lucky to have so many fun things to see and do in the Western North Carolina area that mapping out one day, or several days, is an easy thing to do for our guests.”

In the case of Highland Lake Inn, which is located within 26 wooded acres and has a 40 acre lake, sometimes the property itself provides an adventure. There is a critter barn on property with daily goat milking at 8:30am when the goats are in season.  “Children love to watch the goats being milked. We also provide canoes, paddleboats, bikes and other recreational equipment at no extra charge to our guests,” said Chiles.  “Sometimes the best adventure begins without a plan at all.”

It’s the extra special touches that a bed and breakfast inn provides that keep guests returning year after year.  Innkeepers want to know more about you so they can make your stay one to remember, as well as one that provides you the feeling of being safe and comfortable. If you have any type of health concerns, such as needing handicapped access or a downstairs room because of mobility restrictions, this is important information your innkeeper needs to know.  Some people also have feather and down allergies, food allergies, or need special diets, so be sure to mention these.

Web sites are also valuable sources of information and photographs.  If you’re looking for a room with a fireplace and a view, most likely you’ll be able to choose a specific room online and ask the innkeeper about its availability.  Many bed and breakfast inns also have online reservations, as well as telephone and fax reservations.
Bed and breakfast innkeepers are as interested in learning about you as you are about them.  After all of your initial questions are answered, your hosts will be ready for your visit and will welcome you to their inn’s family. “We’ll do just about anything to accommodate our guests’ requests,” said Chiles.  “Whether it’s helping take family photos, troubleshooting computer problems, going to the grocery store, making golf reservations, or decorating someone’s room for a special occasion, we love doing it.”

“Our returning guests know that every Friday afternoon, we have freshly baked cookies when they check in,” said Chiles.  “It’s not the biggest thing we do, but it helps to create a memory for our guests, and that’s the best part of our job.”

Still undecided? Log onto and browse through the 19,000 B&Bs and country inns that specialize in other events and locations that may interest you. Many of the properties listed above are also in the best-selling bed and breakfast guidebook Bed & Breakfasts and Country Inns with a Buy-One-Night-Get-One-Night-Free Certificate. ILoveInns also offers Bed and Breakfast Gift Certificates, a perfect solution to help celebrate any occasion.