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8 Things to Know About Bed and Breakfast Etiquette

Updated: Apr 24, 2023

Eastlake Suite at Oaklea Mansion photo by Oaklea Mansion

It might initially seem daunting if you have never visited a Bed & Breakfast. It will be quite different than staying at a chain hotel, and knowing what is expected from you will help make your stay more enjoyable and comfortable. While each bed and breakfast will be different as they are individually owned and operated, you will find that what is expected from you is pretty simple. Here are eight things you should know about Bed & Breakfast etiquette.

1 Make Contact before Arrival:

Sometime between making your reservation and arrival, make contact with your host. Unlike a hotel, the bed and breakfast will cater to your needs. During this call, you can ask any questions you may have about the building and room you will stay in, things to do in the area, and restaurants to eat at. Since the "breakfast" part of your stay will be a prepared meal, make sure your host knows of any food allergies ahead of time so that they can accommodate your needs.

2 Do not arrive too early/late:

Unlike hotels that can often accommodate early arrivals with a clean room right away, the bed & breakfast is limited on the available rooms. If you arrive too early, you may need to wait for your room either because your room is not ready or the caretaker is not there yet. Again unlike a hotel with 24-hour desk staff, the bed & breakfast is often run and cared for by a limited staff. This makes it a more personable stay for you but a difficulty if you arrive too early. If you find that you will be early, call ahead and make sure you can settle in at your new time. Do not be too late, either. Again there are no 24-hour guest services, which burdens the caregiver when you arrive very late. If you know you will be late, call the bed & breakfast so they are ready for you when you arrive.

3 Be a pleasant guest and neighbor to fellow guests:

You chose the intimate atmosphere of a bed & breakfast because you wanted more privacy and the relaxed feeling of being away from the hotel crowds. While this is truly an excellent place for lovers' intimacy or a family getaway, you will find that the smaller venue will put you in closer contact with others in the Bed & Breakfast. If there are other guests, you will likely pass them in your comings and goings. If so, a friendly hello or even a pleasant conversation will make it less awkward and more enjoyable. You might even share some must-see attractions you have found during your stay. Also, be pleasant to the owners and caretakers of the establishment. They work hard to make your stay enjoyable and unique. Complements are always appreciated, as is your patience if something happens to go awry.

4 Leave a tip for the housekeeping:

People often forget this when staying at a Bed & Breakfast or even a hotel. Tipping is a way of showing appreciation to the caretaker for their hard work in making your stay pleasant. A daily tip for housekeeping is greatly appreciated. There are often a few little extras that many bed and breakfasts do for guests, and a gratuity is an excellent way of thanking them. It is also nice to tip the staff that cooks and serves your delicious homemade breakfast.

5 Remember where you are at:

Bed & Breakfasts are not hotels. They are more comfortable and more personable. They feel more like a home than a hotel, which is why much of the "stuff" is the owners' personal property. This means when you take a "souvenir," you are often taking the hosts' personal property. There are often items that you may purchase to remember your stay. Remember when exploring the building that they are often decorated with antiques and fine art, so use caution when touching items that may be breakable.

6 Accidents Happen, report them promptly:

Accidents do happen even when we are careful. Do not try to hide a broken item by throwing it away. Just let the host know so they can look for a replacement or mark it off the inventory. Also, if you spill wine or food on the linens, report it immediately so they can tackle the stain before it sets in.

7 Breakfast:

Have you ever had a party and someone who RSVP'd didn't show up? That is like going to a bed & breakfast and not showing up for breakfast. Since breakfast is part of the experience, it is assumed that you will be there. If you do not show up, it could be considered rude. This does not mean you are required to go to breakfast; however, if you make prior arrangements, please let your host know so that they do not cook a sumptuous breakfast and no one shows up. You may also request breakfast be made to go or taken to your room. Again, inform the host that this is your intention.

8 Enjoy the stay:

Staying at a bed & breakfast is an amazing experience. Nothing compares to the personal care you will get. The amazing breakfast you will have cooked personally just for you or the fun exploring the grounds and the rest of the area. One last thing, when you get home, do not forget to give them a good review. Reviews can bring more business to them.

That is it! Come prepared for a great time, and before you leave, be sure to book your next stay at Oaklea Mansion!


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