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.