Here’s a tip you can thank me for later. If you’re looking at Bed and Breakfasts, steer clear of the ones that have stuffed animals on the beds. The middling innkeeper will have thought it a cute touch, homey, offering comfort and charm during whirlwind vacations. But “cute” should not apply to B&B’s. Trust me on this. For breakfast, Granny, as she’ll ask to be called, will serve toast cut in triangles, pre-smeared with a butter substitute alongside Smuckers packets of jam. She’ll offer scrambled eggs with American cheese, Oscar Mayer bacon and Folgers coffee. Tea will be something her ancestors threw into the harbor and the idea of granola for breakfast will make her hand flutter to her heart.
When you ask her for recommendations for dinner, she’ll point you to the Olive Garden down the road.
And you’ll know all of that because she’ll follow you around the house, pointing out pictures of her grandchildren, her cats, her dogs. She’ll show you how to flush the toilet, how to make sure the bathtub doesn’t over-flow, how to adjust the alarm clock. She’ll warn you about using too much hot water, and remind you that breakfast begins promptly at 7:30 and ends at 8:15.
Not only that, but the accommodations will be about as comfortable as snuggling up to that ratty old bear on the pillow. The sheets will have faded roses on them, the bathtub will have plastic no-skid flowers attached to the bottom and the TV will have several channels. 3, to be exact.
Now, all of that is lovely when visiting friends. Give me a simple breakfast of yogurt or toast or cereal, let me snuggle in your well-used sheets, and keep me company when I walk into the living room. I’m visiting because I like you, and I want to be around you.
But an innkeeper? I don’t want her to encourage me to eat my peas: I want her to offer the most luxurious, the most cotton-filled, scented room possible, and then I want her to get out of my life. I want breakfast when I wake up, which may be at 6:00 and it may be at 9:30. I want chocolate left by my fireplace and I don’t want to see her, ever, unless I need reservations for dinner, or a bike, or mountain climbing. A good innkeeper is not your best friend: she doesn’t care about your health, she cares about your wallet. And in order to get at your cash, she’ll politely excuse herself from conversations that move beyond “How was the bike ride?” or “Would you like more cocoa?” If you can remember your Innkeeper being in your room, she, like dear Norman, has overstayed her welcome.