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What is the Difference Between a Bed and Breakfast and a Hotel?

Michael Pollick
Updated May 23, 2024
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Many travelers choose whether to stay in a bed and breakfast or hotel based on specific needs. Those who desire a "home away from home" experience may seek out a traditional bed and breakfast, while others may require the corporate amenities and convenient location provided by a hotel. A hotel may be located near a major airport or roadway for convenient commuting, while a bed and breakfast is often located near a natural landmark or tourist destination. Both provide secure lodging for their guests, but there are some notable differences.

Most hotels are part of a chain, which insures a certain level of consistency, but can feel a bit sterile or corporate. A bed and breakfast, on the other hand, is usually owned and operated independently. The inns are often private homes that have been renovated for use as commercial housing units. Those who prefer this say that the more intimate atmosphere is a major selling point. Chain accommodations are designed to handle larger groups and business travelers, who may not require the same personal touches as those on vacation.

Another difference between the two is the staffing. Because a hotel operates on a larger scale, it requires a larger staff than a bed and breakfast. Employees must clean the rooms, wash the linens, operate restaurants and banquet halls, check guests in and out, and provide entertainment. Guests may have a difficult time getting to know the staff, since they work on various shifts. Bed and breakfast owners, on the other hand, may maintain a very small staff and spend a considerable amount of time socializing with their guests.

The food served in a traditional bed and breakfast is often prepared by the owners and is usually gourmet quality. Depending on an individual hotel's facilities, breakfast may be a selection of cereals, breads, and juices or a full buffet served in a large dining room. The overall pace of a bed and breakfast inn is generally slower than that of many large hotels, which can turn breakfast into a more leisurely affair.

A hotel's strongest advantage is often the room rate. It can usually afford to offer discounts for frequent corporate guests or government employees. A bed and breakfast, on the other hand, may charge a different rate for peak and slow seasons, but the owners cannot always afford to offer volume discount rates. The room rate is usually comparable to that of a mid-range hotel chain, although the rates for an exclusive inn in a popular tourist destination can be significantly higher than those of a hotel located across town.

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Michael Pollick
By Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to WiseTour, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range of topics. His curiosity drives him to study subjects in-depth, resulting in informative and engaging articles. Prior to becoming a professional writer, Michael honed his skills as an English tutor, poet, voice-over artist, and DJ.
Discussion Comments
By anon984423 — On Jan 08, 2015

We love to travel. We stay at both very nice hotels as well as Bed & Breakfast. I would rather stay at a Bed and Breakfast before staying at any hotel. Not only is it less expensive, but we have never been disappointed staying at a Bed & Breakfast. Every Bed & Breakfast is different and it makes for a new and exciting stay each time.

By anon340439 — On Jul 03, 2013

I completely agree with this post, People who are on vacation really want to stay in a good place and a B&B is awesome.

By anon311240 — On Dec 30, 2012

Who makes the bed in a b&b -- the guest or the b&b proprietors?

By anon287989 — On Aug 28, 2012

Do tourists prefer hotels or B&B's?

By anon279964 — On Jul 15, 2012

@Sparky9933: I don't know what hotel you're going to but we go to Best Western and they do not charge for that extra crap and in smaller cities the staff are usually just as friendly as at a bed and breakfast.

The only exception is one time we stayed at a Hilton in San Francisco and we saw somebody's luggage in our room because the staff mixed up the numbers, and they not only sincerely apologized (which would've been enough) but gave us a free upgrade as well as a voucher for the expensive restaurant for breakfast we could otherwise not afford. Overall, it was a fun experience.

By anon279960 — On Jul 15, 2012

Call me Kyle. Bed and breakfasts are bleeping expensive, at least in North America.

I don't know about Europe and other parts of the world although I'd swear I've read they are cheaper than hotels, unlike the North American counterparts.

Anyway, if you want to stay at a B & B in North America, you better slowly save for most of the year unless you're either upper middle class or you don't have children adding to the expense. Then it will be easier to save as long as you stick to your goal.

By anon259525 — On Apr 06, 2012

I like hotels better because they have those doors that spin round like there is somebody pushing them. I don't like sleeping somewhere I have never slept before but the comfort of hotels kind of gets rid of that. They also have vending machines and they don't really have them at B&B's.

I also think that most people go to hotels rather than B&B's, so I don't know why they're all saying this rubbish.

By anon191207 — On Jun 28, 2011

Given the choice, I'd always rather stay at a bed and breakfast. The service is always personal and you get to meet people you probably wouldn't have otherwise, plus they are usually quieter, and in my opinion, certainly safer, than a lot of hotels. It's a much more homelike atmosphere, too, which is relaxing. Most, if not all, of the amenities offered are free, or included in the room rate. Also, the innkeepers usually live on-site or nearby, so any problems can generally be solved quickly.

Many bed and breakfasts are in older homes that have been renovated, and it's a real pleasure to get to experience these places that I wouldn't have otherwise had a chance to visit. I'm a big supporter of the bed and breakfast industry. They're local and I'm all about contributing to local business when possible.

By anon134145 — On Dec 13, 2010

Not only do we, a bed and breakfast establishment, offer water and snack at no charge, we also offer wireless internet at no charge, and a selection of movies for their in-room DVD player at no charge.

By egoodell — On Jun 29, 2009

You missed an important difference between bed and breakfasts and hotels.

Hotels usually charge for everything beyond just the room: bottled water - $3, breakfast $$$, wine in the room $$, snacks $$ etc.

Bed and breakfasts usually offer many amenities at no charge. Bottled water, soda, snacks, freshly baked treats, often wine and cheese at check in and often bottle of wine in the room.

By sparky9933 — On Jan 17, 2009

Are there hotel policies which restrict hotel staff from socializing with guests outside of the hotel facility. Let's say conversation and coffee? If so, why...if both parties consent...is it an invasion of freedom?

Michael Pollick
Michael Pollick
As a frequent contributor to WiseTour, Michael Pollick uses his passion for research and writing to cover a wide range...
Learn more
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