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For those less familiar with staying at a Bed and Breakfast, here are some things that are more or less common to most inns:

Although some inns welcome “walk-ins,” we do, most will require advance reservations that will be confirmed after a credit card is used to guarantee or a deposit is made to secure the reservation.

While most establishments including ours have guest rooms with private adjoining baths, there are sometimes certain areas of an inn that may have baths down the hall, or even shared baths. It is wise to inquire ahead of time if you have a preference.

When you check in, you of course want the rooms clean and fresh–and the innkeepers do too–just for you. Guests should not “use” any other bathroom without permission even though it is not occupied because it has been readied for the “next” guests, and when you use it that changes the advertised “private” bath to a “shared” bath through no fault of the innkeepers.

Breakfast is normally included in the room rate at most inns, but taxes are not, and will vary from location to location, since some municipalities will levy taxes along with a state’s tourism tax and possible sales taxes in certain areas. So generally you would need to ask if you want to know how much the tax will be.

If making your reservation by phone, call during hours that you wouldn’t mind being called yourself, usually between 10 AM ( after breakfast is served ) and no later than 8 PM ( Innkeepers get up early. B&Bs are not hotels with 24-hour desk clerks. If requesting a reservation via e-mail, do it any old time.

Breakfast is usually “chef’s choice” with either a designated serving time or your choice of a serving time. Ours is 8:30 AM. It is wise to notify the innkeeper in advance of your arrival if you have dietary restrictions or allergies affected by feathers, certain pets, etc., since the inn may have feather pillows and some innkeepers have pets of their own. Innkeepers will try to accommodate special needs whenever possible if they have time to prepare for them.

Make reservations as early as possible. B & Bs have just a few rooms, and may have nothing available for your special date. (Most members will assist in finding alternate accommodations. Don’t hesitate to ask.)

Many inns do not permit guests to smoke inside. However, most facilities will allow smoking outside. It is good to clarify the inn’s policy ahead of time regarding these matters if you are not sure. Our inn is non-smoking with a hefty fine of $500 for dry cleaning of all fabric items in all affected rooms. Smoking is permitted outdoors on the porch.

Most B&Bs will not be “Handicap Accessible,” or will have limited rooms that are, so definitely inquire ahead of time if this is a necessity. If stairs would be a problem, this should also be addressed, since ground floor rooms may not always be available. We have one.

Most facilities are small businesses who must have precise cancellation policies that will be different from hotels and motels because they do not have either the number of rooms or the quantity of traffic that larger places have.

Should you need to cancel, do so as early as possible. Remember that your room may represent 25% or more of the innkeeper’s income and it may be difficult to fill the room at the last minute.

B&Bs tend to be individually decorated by their owners with quality furniture, artwork, and antiques and are not usually child proof. Well behaved children are nevertheless welcome at some B&Bs, while some have certain age restrictions regarding children, and some do not accept any children at all. If you are traveling with children, it is always wise to ask about any reservations that involve more than the usual “double occupancy” standard. Parents are responsible at all times for the actions of their children. Our policy is to accept children over 12.

Most B&Bs do not accept pets, we do not. Those that do may have special policies regarding the size of the pet, and the rooms that pets are welcome in. Please notify the management at the time you make the reservation if you are traveling with a pet. REMEMBER: Never leave a pet unattended in a strange place.

Some inns will have definite check-in times, while others will allow more flexibility. But you should ALWAYS call the inn if you see that you are going to be unable to arrive as requested by the innkeeper or at the time you advised them you would. Our check-in time is between 4 and 6 PM. We do accommodate earlier or later check-in with advanced notice.

The innkeeper or owner usually serves as a friendly, helpful, personal host while you are the guest. Feel free to ask them about restaurants, things to see and do, directions to places you want to go, etc.

While breakfast is always included in the room rate, some inns serve other meals regularly, or for special events or occasions, so you may want to ask about this or notify the innkeeper if you are interested in arranging extra meals. Some B&Bs offer complimentary snacks also.

It is considered proper form to leave a tip for housekeeping staff. Consider the tip according to how well the service was just as you would out to dinner. Were your towels changed daily? They are at our inn. Were the sink, shower and toilet cleaned daily? There are at our inn. Was your bed made and linens changed as needed? Ours are. If so, housekeeping staff should be shown appreciating in the form of a tip.

Ladies should remember to be kind to the innkeeper and the environment by using the provided make-up remover wipes and/or wash clothes provided for the removal of make-up, instead of all the pristine, white and expensive bath linens for that purpose. Not only does it require much soaking and scrubbing to get out make-up stains ( if it will come out ) it also requires a large chemicals that are harmful to the environment.

Most B&B’s are someone’s home, although they require being run very much like a business, you still want to make sure not to be too noisy. Always consider the person next door or below you in the house. It is a good rule of thumb to keep all noise, TV, conversation, sex etc. A lower volume after the 10 PM hour. While on this subject, make sure your bed is not over the breakfast table if you are a morning couple, if you know what I mean.

Never take anything that does not belong to you. It may go unnoticed at a large hotel if you swipe a washcloth or an ice bucket, but if you relieve the innkeeper of a bathrobe ($110 at ours ) or bottle of complimentary wine ( its complimentary to drink here ) you will certainly find the charge for it on your next credit card statement.

As always When seeking luxury accomadations in the Williamsburg Virginia area Colonial Gardens Bed and Breakfast inn is your best choice.

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