Thursday, September 23, 2010

B&B Etiquette: On Leaving Early

What’s wrong with the photo above? The table is set for four, but there are only two guests eating breakfast ….

The decaf had begun to brew. As I broke the third egg into a bowl for French toast for my Liberty Coin guests, I began to wonder why they had not yet come down. The clock said ten past nine. Outside, Liz and Ian, our Green Room guests, a nurse and a policeman from Surrey, had already poured their first cup of tea. They love staying at B&Bs. In fact, I had joined them on Wednesday for a discussion of what makes a good bed and breakfast. Last weekend’s New Hampshire retreat had not measured up, apparently.

“It felt like the innkeepers were playing at it,” Liz explained.

“It was clear they had not slept in the room themselves,” Ian added.

Here was a topic that interested me, guests from Britain finding fault with American innkeepers. I’ve noticed Americans do not make such good B&B guests either. They often arrive with expectations of maid service and act way superior to their hosts. When guests behave this way, they are really missing the point. If you choose a B&B, you choose to stay in someone’s home, as a guest, very different from an overnight stay in a motel, and being welcomed into someone's home merits some respect.

“I don’t think the other guests are here anymore,” I told Liz and Ian, placing their gluten-free toast on the antique garden table.

“What?” Liz said, furrowing her brow. “Yesterday they did tell us they were going to Martha’s Vineyard.”

So, I went upstairs, and sure enough. There was a note. I rushed back down.

“How frustrating!” I exclaimed. “Remember our discussion about Americans and B&Bs yesterday? These folks left without telling me. Incredible!”

“I think it’s a bit rude as well,” Liz added.

Not intentionally rude, but yes, gauche for sure. I was up at 7. Ian told me he had heard the other car pull out at 8. It would have been easy to duck one’s head into the kitchen and say thank you: goodbye. No breakfast today, thanks.

Last year I wrote a post called B&B Etiquette: On Noise. I’m realizing there are a lot of do and don’ts that no one has explained to Americans when it comes to staying at a bed & breakfast.

Here’s another lesson: If you must leave before breakfast, tell the innkeeper the night before!