Why I Prefer B&B’s to Hotels

I always enjoy the process of deciding where to stay when I travel. I think this is one of the most important choices you can make when planning a trip since where you stay can greatly help make or break your experience. I travel to Martha’s Vineyard every summer (save for the past two summers when I was in the Middle East) and always choose bed and breakfasts since they have such a cozy, homey, friendly atmosphere, impossible to find in a hotel. This year I followed my old routine of B&B stays and ended up loving it, as always. Of course.

The island, off the coast of Massachusetts, has such a quaint and peaceful atmosphere in and of itself and, while there are many vacation rentals on Martha’s Vineyard, I find staying a bed and breakfast helps keep this ambiance going even when indoors. In my B&B I get to stay in a cute and cozy room, giving me a comfortable feeling of home that hotels just cannot imitate.

Sitting room of Isabelle's Beach House in Oak Bluffs

The Norton Beach Room at Isabelle's Beach House

Hotels can be quite historical, but in my eyes whatever history may hide behind their doors, it pales in comparison to the stories a centuries-old house has to tell.

The history of the United States is very short, yet it all began on the country’s East Coast, which includes Martha’s Vineyard. As one of the earliest settled islands in the country, it’s got some, by American standards, ancient history.

Exterior of 1720 House on Martha's Vineyard

The history of the B&B I stayed in this summer in Vineyard Haven is interesting in and of itself, as it was built on the island’s north shore circa 1720, then relocated the following century by being floated via raft to Vineyard Haven, where it was transported to its current location by oxen.

The building is thought to have originally been a schoolhouse until converted into a home. Fast forward to the end of the last century when Abby Hirsch, a New York City television producer and writer bought this home home so she could spend time relaxing on the Vineyard each summer. She found that life in New York kept urging her back, so she decided to turn her island home into a bed and breakfast so she’d have good reason to spend more time there. It was here, in her 1720 House that I got to spend two days relaxing in the uber-quaint Americana room.

Americana Room at the 1720 House in Vineyard Haven

History isn’t the only thing that draws me to bed and breakfasts, though. They can have better locations than hotels, which often have to be built wherever they’ll fit. B&B’s, on the other than, fit easily anywhere, including the most interesting and scenic parts of town. Isabelle’s Beach House, in Oak Bluffs, one of my favorite Martha’s Vineyard towns, sits directly on the Nantucket Sound, which leads to the Atlantic Ocean. While staying here I got to gaze out onto the peaceful ocean waters every moment of the day.

View of Vineyard Sound in Oak Bluffs

Staying at bed and breakfasts is an excellent way not only to meet and talk to the owner, who can give tons of advice and suggestions about what to see and do. Here you’ll definitely be meeting other people passing through just like yourself. When staying at bed and breakfasts on Martha’s Vineyard it’s common not only to meet up and chat over breakfast but to talk while relaxing at the beginning or end of the day on the porch. You’ll find white wooden reclining or rocking chairs on most porches on this island – a classic Vineyard look.

White rocking chairs on Martha's Vineyard

The best aspect of staying in a bed and breakfast, though, in my opinion, is the inside peek it gives into the lifestyle of the local people. A lot can be learned from seeing how people around the world live. And that’s what travel is all about, isn’t it?

My stay on Martha’s Vineyard was sponsored by the Martha’s Vineyard Chamber of Commerce, but all opinions are my own.

11 Comments Post a Comment
  1. Candice says:

    Ditto! Except Im usually the youngest one at B&Bs by like, 40 years…
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  2. Steve says:

    I can see why you’d like staying in a B&B in Martha’s vineyard. It’s such a nice-looking place. The rooms look relaxed and cozy.

    I never stayed at a B&B until I traveled through Ireland. I have to admit that you can really meet some interesting people staying in places like that.

    There was this one B&B I stayed in outside of Innis in Ireland that was just fantastic. It was run by a nice old lady who let my wife and I stay in this huge room with a gorgeous view of the countryside. It was cheaper than normal too. I think that might have to do with the fact that it was outside of town and a little off the road.
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  3. Rachel says:

    I like both, but tend to find my favorites in the places I visit and go again and again. I’ve stayed at both a guesthouse and a big hotel in Kuala Lumpur. Love them both for different reasons. Same for Albir, Spain, Hanoi, Vietnam, Hong Kong etc.

    I currently live in Thailand (been here for 10 years) and travel a lot around the country. I usually stay in inexpensive smaller Thai hotels, but sometimes those massive hotel chains have the better deals.

    Basically, for me it depends on location, cleanliness and price. Not much else :)
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  4. Great reasons! I stayed in B&Bs (and hotels) before I started considering hostels as an option. B&Bs are a lot of fun, and I relate to a lot of what you wrote, though I love hotels too. The only challenge is that you never want to leave because it’s so great there :)
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  5. I totally agree! B&Bs give you a great chance to sneak a peak of the local life!

  6. Sabina says:

    Candice, that’s a problem for you, but not for me :)

  7. Sabina says:

    Hi, Jo – they so do. Hotels can be so sterile, but B&B’s are life. :)

  8. Sabina says:

    Ayelet, never wanting to leave is usually a challenge for me too :)

  9. Sabina says:

    Hi Rachel – true that sometimes hotels can have the better prices, and I stay in them myself sometimes for the same reason. :)

  10. Sabina says:

    Hi, Steve – Martha’s Vineyard will always be my favorite place in the U.S. I stayed at a B&B in Ireland too – Black Rock, just south of Dublin, and I still remember vividly and fondly the family who ran it. It’s hard to say that of hotels :)

  11. Shalu Sharma says:

    This is an interesting point of view on bed and breakfasts. I also think that B and B are better as its less commercial and often run by passionate people who look after their guests properly and do not treat them as cash cows. Brilliant article.
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