Today a modern traveler faces a proliferation of shelter options available. From the luxurious penthouse suite to the five star accommodations of an upscale hotel to the more modest local motel room – the lodging choices are as diverse as those seeking places to stay. We can learn about all these different options today from the history of the bed and breakfast.
Throughout history it’s been a common practice to provide shelter and a meal to traveling strangers. It wasn’t unusual for people to open their doors to someone arriving in the middle of the night that might not have anywhere else to stay. The accommodations were usually modest but that wouldn’t matter to a weary visitor.
Travel in days gone by was not what it is today. The idea of a family vacation or a quick getaway for the weekend was completely unheard of at the time. Beyond soldiers and religious pilgrims most people stayed put in the area that they lived in.
With the advent of the railroad system travel practices started to change. An increasing number of hotels and inns started popping up to cater to the needs of those on board. Innkeepers knew these folks would need somewhere to stay, so they strategically placed their accommodations in close proximity to the train stops.
Like everything else in life, travel continued to change and evolve. What started out as a rare opportunity restricted to those better off, gradually changed to a more widespread practice available even to the average person. Modern industrial practices and the strength of the U.S. dollar after World War II only served to create a surge in travel opportunities for everyone. The ‘outside’ world was no longer a place that most people were cut off from.
One of the hottest destinations for the post World War II family was Europe. Reconnecting with one’s roots and accessing the historical places that one only read about in books was suddenly attainable.
It was during this time that many Americans became acquainted with the European B&Bs. These establishments offered a more personal type of lodging experience along with a friendly ambience that most travelers took to immediately. Additionally, the B&Bs of Europe offered a more economically friendly venue for those on a budget.
Inspired by what they experienced in Europe, the traditional B&B was imported here albeit with an American touch. Not to be confused with their foreign counterparts, American B&Bs are usually found to be more upscale and lavish establishments. Whereas in Europe you can expect the B&B to traditionally be a more modest and budget friendly option, American venues are in the same price range as many fancy hotels.
As the contemporary B&B has continued to evolve, many owners have gotten quite creative with their offerings. What was once simply a place to spend the night and enjoy a hot breakfast waiting for you in the morning has now emerged as a focal point for recreational opportunities. Depending on what today’s travelers are interested in, there are a myriad of possibilities to choose from. Tennis courses, horseback riding, hiking and boating are only some of the activities offered by modern, upscale B&Bs. All one has to do is look around for what they desire to do and there is sure to be a B&B offering exactly that.
To make the B&B experience even more interesting, many owners now operate them out of interesting and sometimes strange locations. It’s not unusual to find a B&B that is operated out of a castle, historical building or even a boat!
It’s really interesting to look back and see how travel accommodations have changed over the years. Seeing how things have evolved over the years, one cannot help but wonder how the contemporary innkeeper will strive to make their patrons’ experience even more enjoyable and diverse than what is on offer today.
For those who’ve never had the pleasure of spending time at a B&B, have you ever thought about what you’d expect if you chose to spend the night at one? The internet is filled with readily available information outlining all of the different B&B options. Why not take some time to check them out? You will be pleasantly surprised by all of the travel adventures waiting for you next time you decide to stay at a B&B.