Inn or Bed and Breakfast?

Inn versus Bed & Breakfast
(Musings by Michael)

Are you a Vermont country inn or are you a Vermont bed and breakfast? This is a question that has been asked of us many times over the last six years at our Okemo Valley bed and breakfast (inn) located in south central Vermont. As our name (Golden Stage Inn) will clearly attest, it is not as simple as using the name of the establishment for guidance.

Why is the distinction so important anyway? I presuppose that it is, in fact, important, in that it feels as if it is the single most frequently asked question of us as innkeepers – or bed and breakfast keepers – beyond “What is it like to be an innkeeper?” (It is amazing how many of our guests have considered a career in bed and breakfast keeping, but for some list of reasons have not yet taken the plunge. However, I digress… )

A bed and breakfast has the distinct benefit of naming its list of services in a clear and concise fashion through the use of three simple words, with “and” hardly counting, as it can be handled with a mere symbol (&). An inn, however, only uses three letters in total, but somehow seems to convey such a vast image when compared to the shared breakfast table, staying in someone else’s house kind of image that a measly old bed and breakfast seems to portray. And unlike bed and breakfasts, inns have been around forever. (Mary and Joseph were not told, “No room in the Bed and Breakfast” and that was over 2,000 years ago!) Nor can you make cool word-a-likes with bed and breakfast the way you can with the word inn, like Inn-dulgence, Inn-credible, Come on Inn, or Inn-viting! (Try doing that with bed and breakfast!) I seem to live digressed…

Really now, back to the point. Although many inns appear to be bed and breakfasts and many bed and breakfasts appear to be inns, there are some generalities about the two that seem to be consistent, however not 100% conclusive:

1) Inns tend to serve both breakfast as well as dinner, while bed and breakfasts generally do not serve dinner. The “do not serve dinner” model has several different looks — with some bed and breakfasts serving afternoon tea, après ski treats, and/or after-dinner desert items. (For example, at Golden Stage Inn we serve complimentary homemade soup from Dec 26 through the end of ski season, and year round we serve Saturday Night Chocolate Cake and the bottomless cookie jar.) Some inns that do serve dinner do this only on select nights of the week/season, some to the public, and some only serving their lodging guests.
2) Bed and breakfasts generally do not have bars nor any alcohol for sale, while some inns do. Again, not entirely determining, but fairly universal.
3) Overall, inns are more apt to serve both the general public and their inn guests, while bed and breakfasts seem to serve mostly just their lodging guests. Consistently, inns tend to be larger than bed and breakfasts, or at least the larger hospitality establishments tend to be inns.

Although this is hardly an inclusive list of differences between these two types of hospitality models, it is not too far off of this writer’s experience or the common knowledge within the industry. It’s ironic to me that while inns are constantly looking to create the quaint homey-ness of a bed and breakfast, bed and breakfasts are constantly seeking the image of the quintessential New England country inn.
Either way, both bed and breakfast owners and innkeepers are committed hospitality professionals who pride themselves on your relaxation, comfort, and satisfaction. Check out the list of reasons to stay at a bed and breakfast on our website and then try us out soon! I look forward to making you breakfast! — Mike

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