So just what is a Bed & Breakfast? At the most basic, the term Bed and Breakfast is an all-encompassing description for establishments that provide just what the words say - a bed and a breakfast!
It is also a somewhat misleading term that does not come close to describing many of today’s luxury properties. Would you believe a Bed & Breakfast Inn with rates that can exceed $3,000 per night - plus taxes! To be fair, such a rate does include dinner and they probably would not like to be associated with the term Bed & Breakfast! Today, luxury bathrooms, in-suite spa services and gourmet breakfasts are becoming the norm in many bed and breakfast inns.
Although in the United States the custom of opening one’s home to travelers dates back to the early days of Colonial America, it was in the 1980’s and 1990’s that the numbers of B&B’s increased exponentially. Today, there are between 15 and 20,000 bed and breakfasts in the US. Growth of the industry has no doubt been hindered by persistent myths; shared bathrooms, Victoriana, communal breakfast gatherings and lack of sound proofing and privacy.
The origins of traditional B&B’s can be traced to Europe. In the UK, Bed and Breakfasts are ubiquitous. In many coastal resort towns and villages there are streets where almost every private home offers overnight accommodations – commonly a bedroom and possibly a private bathroom - followed by a cooked breakfast in the morning - and then off to the beach! Many pubs also offer overnight stays and are a bridge between the traditional bed and breakfast, an inn and a small hotel.
Today, the industry has evolved significantly and there are a very wide variety of lodging options that can all be broadly described as B&B’s. Choices range from resort establishments like The Point at Saranac Lake and Twin Farms in Vermont, offering a full-service experience, to luxury Bed and Breakfast Inns like The Inn at Bowman’s Hill in New Hope, Bucks County as well as many simpler establishments featuring just a couple of rooms in an otherwise private residence. But, therein lies the challenge. How to name and categorize the many high-end establishments that don’t fit the classical definition of a Bed and Breakfast. Boutique hotel, small hotel, country inn, resort, luxury B&B? Though rarely used, our personal favorite is resort B&B.
We host a fair number of what I like to call B&B virgins – usually males – whose experience of nights away from home is narrowly defined by close relatives of the Ritz Carlton brand of hotel. Dragged unwillingly to a fate worse than death, almost all leave with a new perception of the dread and breakfast option. Yes indeed, the bed and breakfast industry has come a long way!
Sedona is widely considered the Bed & Breakfast capital of the West – and Bucks County has rightfully been described as the Bed & Breakfast capital of the East. There some 20 New Hope Bed & Breakfast inns and several more just across the Delaware River in Lambertville and Hunterdon County. Whether located alongside the river, in the town or on private estates, each property offers a personalized experience and a welcoming alternative to traditional hotels. Truly a better way to stay.