Contemporary B&Bs Offer Far More Than Just a Bed and Breakfast
When I was a kid, the picture that came to mind when I heard “bed and breakfast” was of a well-lived-in house filled with antiques, overly-soft four-poster beds, a resident cat or an old sleepy dog, all likely run by a sweet elderly couple.
While this image certainly has its own kind of charm, the bed and breakfast scene has evolved significantly over the last few decades. In fact, many B&Bs today provide all of the plush luxury of a hotel, with the added bonus of greater privacy, more personal attention, and indulgent homemade meals, often in the tradition of the country or region where you’re staying.
One such B&B at which I’ve stayed was a stunning home in the Tuscan countryside. Run by an agrarian family, the property was nestled amidst rolling hills covered with grape vines, spruce, and olive groves, and sprinkled here and there with bee boxes. My room itself was furnished with a plush bed that was cloaked in luxurious linens. The color palette was bright and airy, and the furnishings highlighted the quintessential Tuscan charm conveyed by the gorgeous wooden beams that spanned the ceiling, and which were authentic to the original farm home.
I could have spent many inspired days strolling along the paths that surrounded the property, soaking up the expansive views, or just reading quietly beside the fire. But what will stay with me forever was the extraordinary traditional Tuscan dinner that I had one evening during my stay.
Everything was of the finest quality, and highlighted the freshness of the local ingredients: From a mouth-watering collection of local salamis and cheeses, to homemade pasta, dressed with a decadently pungent olive oil from the farm, to a luscious white cake drizzled with honey collected from the family’s bees. To top it all off, my glass of wine made with grapes cultivated on the very property at which I stayed never ran dry. The food, the drink, and the company all merged to provide an experience I will treasure forever as representative of Tuscan life.
You can find exquisite B&Bs the world over. Inns throughout the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, and beyond offer a beautifully personal way to experience Western Europe. What might surprise you is to find this same intimate tradition in places such as Israel, Iceland, Thailand and New Zealand. They truly are wherever you wish to go.
In these unique accommodations, you won’t just get a plate of pancakes and some coffee in the morning. You can get sumptuous multi-course meals with complimentary wine service in the evenings, similar to my own authentic experience in Tuscany. You can find top-of-the-line spas, in-room fireplaces, gorgeous swimming pools, breathtaking views, and peaceful grounds on which to roam. Just like at any luxury hotel, you can choose to interact with other guests, or you can opt for private room service. You can be in the heart of a busy city like Amsterdam or Chicago, just steps away from main attractions, or you can rest in solitude in the green Irish countryside, or overlooking the expansive Mediterranean.
Perhaps best of all, when you stay at a B&B, you are one of only a handful of guests staying in a property that is owned and operated by someone who is personally invested in your comfort and enjoyment. You’ll feel specially looked after. As one happy reviewer put it, “The thing that made our stay was the personal touches. We now have a problem, though—nothing else will compare!”
If you’d like to jump-start your imagination with some unbelievable photos, you can check out the 2016 Traveler’s Choice Awards for B&Bs.