Is the hotel or
B&B willing to
negotiate for a lower rate than what is listed on the Internet?
This leaves the door open for them to tell you they will knock
off 20% if you pay them in cash rather than using a Credit Card.
I sometimes call the hotel directly and ask this question, but
more and more you find the hotel giving a discount for using the
Internet to book the reservations.
Will the room be
located next to a busy street or highway? I found this to
really be a problem this last time we went to Europe. I
didn't ask the question and two of the B&Bs had rooms that
overlooked a busy road. We were constantly hearing cars
and trucks zoom by and this was even with a white noise sound
machine that couldn't drown out the noise. I think that
the owners thought they were doing us a favor with a view, but
it was very hard to get any sleep since it seemed as though
trucks were always driving by. An even worse situation is
when the room is close to an intersection or an area where the
cars/trucks must slow down. This means they will have to
give the engine some gas to get going or you get to hear
squealing brakes as they slow down. Very annoying.
Does the B&B allow pets in
the room or do the owners have pets that are in the establishment?
kids are very allergic to cats and a stay in a place with cats would
be most unpleasant.
Does the Hotel or
B&B accept Credit
and if so, does it cost more (and if so, how much more)? Never
assume that because a B&B claims to require Credit Card info via
the Internet to make a reservation that it also means they will
take a Credit Card to pay the bill. I found myself in
France needing to pay an 800 Euro payment for our room plus
dinner every night for four nights only to learn that although
the Chateau took my Credit Card info when making the
reservation, they had no means to accept payment via a Credit
Card. I had to take cash that I had put away for our next
B&B's payment (they told us up front that they only took cash),
plus a trip to the local ATM machine where my wife and I maxed
out our daily withdrawal limit for receiving cash. I
barely had enough money to pay the tolls when driving from
Amboise to Normandy much less stop and get something to eat.
Big surprise when I heard that they didn't take Credit Cards.
It also wasted some time since I was not actually staying in
town, I was in the next small township that had no ATM machines
Can we stay adjacent
to each other (if booking multiple rooms)? It isn't too big of
a hassle if there are no adjoining rooms but can become annoying
if you end up on different floors and you need to share
Is the B&B simply
a home where they rent rooms, or is it an actual business with
rooms that are separate from each other and offer some privacy?
One place we stayed was a person's home where the "rooms" were
nothing more than bedrooms down the hallway. To me, this
offers no privacy at all and is not something I am after.
Are there stairs
and if so how many floors to my/our
room? I really don't mind hauling luggage up a few flights of
stairs since I typically stay more than one night in a B&B and
don't plan to be doing this on a daily basis. However, if
you are physically unable to make it up and down stairs very
well, you may want to know where your room is located rather
than find out when you arrive.
When is check-in time
and what should I do if I see that I will be running late?
This is important since many times at a B&B the owners will want
to go to dinner and will lock up the place. Nothing worse
than arriving late and no one is there to answer the doorbell
for a few hours.
directions available to their place when originating from a variety of directions?
You may find a map on the Internet or you can use ViaMichelin or
MapQuest, but I find the owners usually know the easiest way to
get to their place from a variety of directions.
reception consist of satellite or just off-air TV signals and if so, how many channels and how good is
the reception? We are usually in the U.K. when Soccer matches
or Wimbledon is occurring. It isn't fun when we find out
upon arriving that there is no TV for late-night viewing, or
that it's in a communal area where others are watching something
we are not interested in viewing. I don't think there's an
excuse for not having a small TV in a B&B room. We stayed
in one place where they had a TV but only had off-air signals
and none of the signals were viewable (all three of them).
This is like not having a television except that you do, but you
can't see anything.
Are the beds soft or
hard? It seems like everyone uses hard beds in B&Bs and Hotels
and I end up with a stiff back in the morning. I have
found that in some B&Bs they had a softer mattress at one time,
but when it seemed to wear out, they slid a sheet of plywood
under it which made it hard as a rock. There probably
won't be much you can do about this but sometimes they may have
a room with softer beds and can place you in the room with beds
that you like.
What are the sizes and
types of beds (tell them the ages, sex, and size of the people that
will be sleeping in the beds)? This one is important if you
plan to stay with multiple people. It is probably the
number one area where we run in to problems on our stays.
The bed is much narrower than the pictures on the Internet led
us to believe.
Can the hotel or
B&B wash clothes (if your stay will coincide with washing clothes)
and if so, how much will they charge and when will the clothes be
returned? This is often an area of concern since you don't
want to spend your valuable time hanging around a laundromat.
Then again, we use this as a means to take a break from the
action sometimes so it isn't too much of a problem. You
would be surprised at how cheap a clothes washing service can be
although we have paid way too much by not asking what the total
charge would be up front.
reservations required if the B&B will also cook a dinner at a very
good price? We stayed in the Amboise area and the Chateau
where we stayed had an excellent French multi-course dinner they
would make for the guests. Problem was that we didn't know
we had to actually make a dinner reservation in advance and only
discovered it on the day of arrival which was too late.
When is breakfast
served? B&Bs often serve breakfast for about an hour (from 8AM
to 9AM) and you need to specify a time when arriving. They
can't handle everyone at the same time, so you may want to
specify your time when you make the reservation.
What constitutes a
"full English breakfast" or a "continental" breakfast meal?
A continental breakfast in France was quite expensive and it
turned out that a pastry shop was right around the corner for
half the price. One place in England claimed to give a
"full English breakfast" but it consisted of very small quantities
of food and no real selection.
Is breakfast served at
individual tables (if a B&B) or is it a communal dining room table?
If you like to eat in private you may not like sitting at a
common table with others that you don't know or folks that have
poor eating habits.
Is everyone required
to eat at
the same time and if not, what do I have to do to ensure I eat at a
time I want?
Is there a special
order on breakfast or is it only one breakfast that everyone eats
(for example, they only serve scrambled eggs, not fried)?
If staying in a
foreign country (for example, France), do the owners have
directions and recommendations in your language? We stayed
at an excellent place in France but the owners didn't speak a
word of English. That meant we could not get any
recommendations about anything from them.
How far to the nearest
set of restaurants/pubs they would recommend for dinner and
how many restaurants/pubs serve good food? I always ask this
question since it can give an idea of the location of the B&B.
If it's 5 miles to the nearest pub, you will need to have a
designated driver if consuming a couple of pints of beer or
drinking wine. It may also may indicate that you must
drive to eat or to go to the pub rather than walking.
How late do
restaurants/pubs serve food in their area? Some places in
France don't begin serving dinner until after 7:30PM. If
you get back by 6PM you will have to wait before eating.
This isn't a big deal to Europeans, but most Americans eat
rather early compared to Europeans.
Do they have a
list of good restaurants nearby and do they know when the
restaurants are open? This turned in to a big deal in
Bayeaux, France since all the recommended restaurants were
closed the days we were there (3 night stay). This meant
we needed to eat somewhere else before returning to the B&B.
Is there a grocery
store nearby and if so, how far away? This is good to know if
you expect to be loading up on supplies.
Is a taxi required to
go in to town, and if so - how much will it cost each way?
This may affect whether you choose one B&B over another.
We stayed outside of downtown Bath at a B&B that required a 5
Pound taxi ride each way since the distance couldn't be easily
walked after a long day of being on our feet. That meant
we needed to add 10 Pounds to the cost of the B&B for each day.
I ended up finding another B&B that was downtown and saved me
If I can walk to town,
how long a walk is it and is there a sidewalk with street lights?
Nothing worse than arriving and finding out that a 40 minute
walk along the side of a busy highway is required in the evening
with no street lights for the return trip.
How late can I return
to the room (if a B&B or Guest House)? Some places don't
like you returning after 11PM and will lock the doors during the
Are there parking fees
or any other potential problems with parking that I should be aware
of? We stayed at a hotel in the Cotswolds that said they had
parking but it was public pay parking and although free if
parking after 7PM, we had to have our car moved by 7AM or we
would get a parking ticket.
Is there public
transportation nearby and if so, how far away? You probably
won't want to walk a couple of miles to catch a train or bus
with a day of sight-seeing where you will be on your feet the
whole time. Your feet may feel dead by the time it's time
to walk back to your hotel or B&B.
Do they have hair
dryers? Might save you from having to bring one if you require
Do they have fans (if
during summer months)? If the answer is no, this could be a
bad sign unless sleeping in a hot room during the summer with no
air circulation doesn't bother you.
Do they have
electrical converters or 110V outlets? Not absolutely
necessary (I bring my own converter), but it's still interesting
to know in case you need to charge your camera batteries.
How far to the nearest
ATM? This is more about convenience than anything.
How much should a
taxi ride cost from the railroad station or the airport to the
hotel or B&B when considering the number of passengers and
number of bags? This is a very important question since
it is a key area where you can get ripped off. In 2004
while in Paris I got nailed paying three times what I should
have paid for a minivan taxi from Gare du Nord to near Musee
D'Orsay. That's because I hadn't been in Paris for 3 years
and assuming the prices had gone up about three times what they
used to be before the Euro, I jumped to the conclusion that the
new price was reasonable. It wasn't. I paid way too
much which didn't help start things off well for our Paris stay.
I paid enough extra money to buy a family of four a good dinner.
Seems like there's always some kind of rip-off scheme going on
Are there pubs nearby
and if so, how far away and do the owners know how late they
stay open (typically 11PM or so in the U.K.)? If you like pubs
for eating/drinking, you probably want to know this answer
before you arrive.
Are they close to
a laundry and if so, how far away? If you don't have a car
or if parking is hard to find, you may find yourself dragging
suitcases down the sidewalk or road. I've found at more than one B&B they would wash, dry, and fold my clothes for a very reasonable rate (this was for a family of four). Even if they won't wash your clothes, sometimes they offer a service to take your clothes to the local laundromat and then return and pick them up for you. I always give them a good tip for doing this for us since I don't like wasting time driving to laundromats and hanging around waiting for the clothes to finish their wash and dry cycles (especially the drying).
Does the Hotel or
Internet access, or do they know of Internet Cafes (also known as
Cyber Cafes) that may be close?
If the Hotel or B&B provides a place to access the Internet, how
much do they charge and how fast is the connection? One
place we stayed this year said they had it but when we got there
we found that it was down (and had been down for some time) and
we needed to drive to a local town for Internet access. I
could have chosen another B&B that provided access for only a
couple of Pounds per day which would have been cheaper than
driving in to town and paying a slightly higher fee.
Do they have
discounted tickets to local attractions? You may want to know
this before you make reservations via the Internet for the
attractions of interest, or travel to the attractions only to
find out later that the B&B or hotel offered discounted tickets.
I found this to be true for both B&Bs and hotels.