I will readily acknowledge that there are times when familiar, predictable, budget-friendly and convenient are the search words for determining where to spend the night. When you're stressed, on a tight schedule, in a just-passing-through location or basically feeling antisocial, a chain hotel can be a good friend. The locations are often along major highways. The amenities are fairly standard, and the prices are similar. I get it, and I've been in that category on numerous occasions. But, oh my, during the times when I've been on a search for the extraordinary, the off-the-beaten-path location, the personalized experience with exquisite architecture and attention to detail, those times are etched in my mind and marked in the So Glad I Did It category.
There are at least 5 main reasons for choosing a bed and breakfast over a chain hotel:
1) BREAKFAST!!!! This could actually amount to ALL the reasons, because it is, after all, the Main Event. Instead of a self-cooked waffle flopped onto a paper plate alongside aging cereal and fruit, the breakfast in a B & B will very likely include linen tablecloths, china, silverware, artful presentation, and pure yumminess. In some cases, it even means a multi-course meal. Personally, Steve and I enjoy sitting around the table with people from other parts of the country or world, but, more and more, we are seeing the option to sit separately, and that's okay, too -- especially if you're not a People Person or a Morning Person. It is still wonderful to sit down to a lovely place setting and be served. Ahhhh.
2) Gracious hosts. The innkeepers/owners know their location and can make great recommendations for sightseeing, shops, and restaurants. They love telling their own stories of their personal journey to becoming innkeepers and the touches they've added to make the property their own. In most cases, they share many rooms (not just a bedroom and the dining room) with their guests and invite them to take advantage of book/video/magazine selections. They bake fresh cookies and happily adhere to the dietary restrictions of their guests. They invite you to sit a spell on their porch and will even offer an umbrella if you're caught without one.
3) Good value. Many times a room at a B & B is priced very similarly to one in a chain hotel. And, most of the time, the rate comes with free parking and Wi-Fi. Some properties have bicycles available for guests and offer afternoon treats, evening appetizers, and a nightly turndown service.
4) Unique decor. Each room in a B & B is special and often has a significant name. The decor generally reflects the local area or a period in history. Many have been carefully restored and feature stunning architecture. Some have a feeling of grandeur, while others focus on comfort and homeyness.
5) Special location. Since B & Bs often began their lives as mansions or large homes, they will generally be found in neighborhoods or in significant locations around a city or town. They have more of a feeling of being a part of their surroundings.
With those thoughts in mind, here are 7 B & Bs in the South that Steve and I have enjoyed in recent years, listed in alphabetical order. For detailed information about each one, click on the website that I have linked in the title.
1. BLYTHEWOOD INN, Columbia, Tennessee
2. CLAREMONT HOUSE, Rome, Georgia
3. HASSINGER DANIELS MANSION B & B, Birmingham, Alabama
4. HOTEL FINIAL, Oxford, Alabama
This one functions as more of a boutique hotel, but it is a gorgeous property and has many of the same features of a B & B.
5. JOHN RUTLEDGE HOUSE INN, Charleston, South Carolina
6. PINECREST BED & BREAKFAST, Asheville, North Carolina
7. ROSEMARY INN BED & BREAKFAST, North Augusta, South Carolina
The world is slowly coming back to life after our two+ months of quarantine, isolation, and economic shutdown. B & Bs are small businesses that need our support. I'm sure each of these would welcome your consideration and would be happy to help with a reservation.