Inn, Bed and Breakfast (B&B), or Tourist Home, Homestay Home? What’s the difference?
An INN is usually a “business” with 10 or more rooms, a common area and a dining room. It is common but not expected that you can get meals all day in an Inn – you should check if you are planning to have more than breakfast at the Inn. So what is the difference between an Inn and a Motel? A Motel is usually run by a manager and employees and an Inn is usually run by the owner and employees. So you are more likely to get a personal experience at an Inn.
There are 15 Inns in PEI that range in price from $100 to $300 per night.
A Bed and Breakfast is a private home where one or more bedrooms have been converted for guest use. B&B are also called Tourist Homes or Homestays. Usually, a B&B will have 1 to 4 guest rooms but I have seen as many as 7. A Bed and Breakfast is usually run by Mom and Pop – the owners. Except for the 5-star establishments (see below), they do not usually have front desk staff, porters, chefs, and elaborate menus. Often, the bedrooms are on the second floor and, particularly in a “heritage” home, it could be a bit tricky to haul your large suitcase upstairs.
The nice thing about a B&B is the feeling that you are a guest in the host’s home. You will probably feel at ease talking about your holiday and by all means feel free to ask your hosts for advice or recommended attractions. B&B operators usually like to get to know their guests. Some feel they cannot get to know you in one night, so it is common to see a minimum 2-3 night stay. If you are driving, remember that PEI is small. If you pick accommodations centrally located (say between Kensington and Charlottetown), you could spend your entire stay at the same place without doing a lot of extra driving.
The name Bed and Breakfast implies Breakfast is included but you should check if that is a hot breakfast, continental, full breakfast, etc. Unlike an Inn, breakfast is usually cook’s choice and the only menu variation is likely to be for food sensitivities. It is best to advise your host ahead of time. Rest assured that you can usually count on a good hearty meal.
Amenities vary greatly in B&B’s. There are usually one or more sitting rooms also referred to as common areas where you might find a TV, books, movies, board games, etc. With the internet gaining popularity, you will find the majority have high speed Internet. From what I have seen, it is not obvious if this means a computer for guest use or that they have wireless. Something else to check.
One of the biggest concerns about staying at a B&B is a shared bath. Even if you have a private bath, it may be outside the room. Read the room descriptions for clues and if not clear, get the necessary clarifications prior to making a booking.
Shop by the stars! In Canada, an organization called Canada Select inspects accommodations and awards stars. The more stars the better you say? Perhaps so, but the more stars the more the price! Don’t be fooled by the relationship between stars and price. A 4 star B&B in a rural area may be less expensive than a 3 star B&B in the city – It has to do with property values, taxes, etc. If you check Canada Select, they say that you get better amenities including private bath at the 3 star level. I know for a fact that a B&B cannot get a 3-star rating unless it has a private bath, but it is possible for an accommodation to have a private bath and still have only a 2.5 star rating. The budget minded should look at 2, 2.5 and 3 star B&B. If you expect luxury and special services, go for the 4 and 5 star B&B.
I mentioned that B&B typically have 1 to 4 guest rooms. Particularly in Prince Edward Island where the HIGH tourist season is about 10 weeks, losing out on a room rental can mean a significant loss of yearly income. Read the fine print and ask if it is not specified. Cancellation policies can fall in many categories:
- 2-day notice
- non refundable administrative fee even with several day’s notice
- one full night’s fee
- the entire cost of the stay unless rooms can be re-rented
- the entire cost non-refundable
This summer, there are 154 bed and breakfast listed on the government website. The online vacancy listing makes it easier to find vacancy for your planned stay. You can also refine by amenities, location, stars or price.
I hope you come visit PEI this year. I also hope this information on accommodations has been useful. If you have experiences with B&B, Inns, Motels, etc., I’d love to hear about them.
Tomorrow, “Just crafts”