THE BLOG

Beware of Bad Bed & Breakfasts

11/10/2013 11:00 EST | Updated 01/23/2014 10:53 EST

Everyone dreams of enjoying a B and B in a bucolic town amongst other weary, cheery strangers. Oh, the happy discourse over breakfast and the world travellers coming together to share laughter and ideas. But does it always go down this way? Are there common mistakes made that you could learn from?

That's what Matthew MacLean & Jamie Heimbecker wanted to discover before they opened MacLean Estates B and B in Owen Sound, Ontario. They made a list of all the places they had stayed and all the stories that made them uncomfortable so they could avoid these awkward issues in their own establishment. You may want to check if your vacation spot has some of the following policies and practices. To me, though, the stories themselves were hilarious enough to share:

Build a separate entrance for guests

On one trip, Matthew and Jamie found themselves pole vaulting or at least manoeuvring around a permanent guest in the B and B. Grandma. She sat in the living room in her wheelchair and wasn't a welcoming presence or sight. Having a separate entrance from which to slip into and out of is key.

Don't Settle with a Curfew

During one trip, these now expert Inn Owners discovered that curfews can be an issue. They found themselves heading out into Boston's nightlife when the B and B owner informed them of an 11 p.m. bed check time. Knowing this wouldn't suffice they asked what to do in case they were later. They were told point blank "nothing, the door will be locked." No matter how lovely a home, it sucks to be homeless on your vacation. Be sure to ask! MacLean Estates has no curfew.

Know Who Shares a Bathroom

Ideally, each room has its own loo but you can save a few bucks sometimes if you are willing to share. Guests are normally polite and demure about coming to and fro but what if you share with someone who lives there? In one case, Matthew found himself face to face with an all too comfortable home owner who may or may not have forgotten he had guests in the middle of the night. His beeline to the bathroom in boxers was a rude awakening to a sleepy guest. No one wants to see anyone unfamiliar half naked in the middle of the night. It is all a little too personal.

In the end, what you want in a B and B is a clean, quiet, cozy room and a farmer's breakfast to send you on your way. Talk to the innkeeper either by email or by phone and clear up some of these issues before you buy.