How to be a Better B&B Guest

There is no shortage of information on how to save money when you travel, how to choose the best  B&B or even how to haggle for a better priced vacation.

But I’m not so sure this topic is out there.

For a long time I’ve debated on whether I should write a post on how to be a better B&B guest.

After completing our first full year as B&B owners, my husband and I know there are certain things that make someone the type of guest we love and then there are … well, the others. We’ve been lucky and 99% of our guests have been fabulous.

So do you want to be in the top 99 percentile of most popular guests the next time you stay at a bed and breakfast? Then, listen up!

First, here are a few things to remember about B&Bs.

– They are usually a family-owned business, where the one or two-person team is responsible for check-ins, check-outs, structural upkeep, marketing, cooking, cleaning, washing, ironing, shopping … you get the point.

– They will likely have a maximum check-in time. For example, our check-in time is from 3:00-9:00 PM. We happily accommodate late check-ins, like the professor whose train was delayed last week and who didn’t arrive until midnight. That isn’t her fault … and we still love her.

– Because B&Bs are a small business they can often be more accommodating with breakfast or check-out times. So don’t be afraid to ask.


Most of the following tips boil down to one little word Aretha has been singing about since the 60s … respect.

* Last week we had an Italian guest request an early breakfast. Instead of showing up at 7:00 AM (like she requested) she arrived between 8:00-8:30 each morning.

This is a sure-fire way to get on our bad guest list. We are happy to be flexible and offer our guests the benefit of an early breakfast – which most hotels wouldn’t do – but we are busy and that is just disrespectful.

* Our entire structure is smoke-free. When guests stand in the bathrooms and smoke – we know about it. And they, too, go on the list!

* No shows are more detrimental to a bed and breakfast than to a hotel. For one thing, B&Bs are limited in the number and types of rooms they offer. For example, we only have one triple room. If someone books that room, we have to turn other guests away. If that same person doesn’t show up, we’ve not only lost their business, but we’ve likely lost future business with the guests we couldn’t accommodate.

Also, remember there isn’t a staff member working throughout the night – it is the B&B owner. We’ve missed important events because we had a check-in who never showed up.

* Phone calls in Italy – even local calls from a land line – are not free. When guests take it upon themselves to borrow our phone, we lose money. I’d like to point out that Italian guests know this. We happily make phone calls for English-speaking guests (often making the calls ourselves to help with language barrier) and this is another thing entirely. Self-sufficient, Italian-speaking guests who know phone calls aren’t free, shouldn’t use our phones.

All four of these tips on being a better guest reflect a general respect for the B&B owners. Many of us got into this business because we love people. We love travelers. We want to help vacationers who visit our area. It is when guests take advantage of our openness and generosity that things turn icky.

And nobody wants icky now, do they?

Have you ever seen inappropriate behavior at a B&B or hotel? What happened? What other ways do you think people can be better B&B guests?

6 Responses
  1. Wow! It really is a 24/7 job. I’ve actually never stayed in a B&B but will probably be doing so in Tuscany at Easter. The thing that kills me at hotels are the guests that gorge themselves on the breakfast buffet. Pretty pathetic.
    See, that doesn’t bother me at all. I’d rather them eat it than us have leftovers! lol Enjoy your B&B stay, let me know how it goes.

  2. We once had a guest rearrange the antique furniture in one of our rooms. She then came downstairs and announced she had ‘fixed’ the bad design! She even took down the giant gold framed mirror in the bathroom and re-hung it!! People are unbelievable. Of course she lit candles all over the place- a huge no no in a 100+ year old Vicotrian home made of wood 😉
    Oh no, that is horrible. I can’t believe she thought you guys would be happy about that. How long did you wait to change it back? HA!
    South of Rome’s last blog post..Sikania: Sicily’s Bilingual Cultural & Tourism Magazine

  3. I think some people don’t realize a B&B is different from a hotel.

    I went away with some friends and we stayed in a B&B in Martha’s Vineyard. One friend of a friend was annoyed because a guest in the room next door shushed (sp?) her several times. It was late yet this person couldn’t understand why she had to keep her voice down.

    Staying in a B&B is like staying at someone’s home. Respect it.
    I think most people are “nice,” they just don’t realize, like you said, that staying at a B&B will be different. We don’t have a 24 hour front desk or a hundred rooms. It is different, but in my opinion, it is a good different.
    nyc/carribbean ragazza’s last blog post..Finalemente…I found a hairdresser.

  4. Good article Cherrye. It’s important to remember to be a good guest. I look at B&B as being invited into someone’s home. It’s more personal than a hotel.
    Thanks, Nadine. We had another no show last night and we waited up so late until we finally called. You know what she said? “I didn’t call you again and confirm.” (But she did confirm when we asked her in her initial call, “are you confirming?” Mah!
    Nadine’s last blog post..Coffee Snob

  5. Cherrye,

    Great post! We work with innkeepers all over the country, and PITA guests (you know, the “pain in the a…) are everywhere, and almost always in very small numbers. Most innkeepers can count on one hand the guests that get blacklisted. It sounds like guests in Italy are no different than guests anywhere. Unfortunately, it’s hard to fix rude.

    I’m going to RSS your blog. Would like to know if you get business from it.
    Definitely, Peter. Thanks for the comment. I am glad to know others have these issues, too. It is sad a handful of ppl can make such a negative impact. But you are right. We LOVE most of our guests and can’t wait for them to visit us again.

  6. Teresa Cesario

    When one comes to stay at IL Cedro from the U.S.
    What kind of gifts are much loved?
    Ciao Teresa! Polite guests who respect the structure. 🙂 Can’t wait to meet you guys!

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