Definition of a Canadian Bed and Breakfast
What is a bed and breakfast in Canada? What rules apply?
A Bed and Breakfast experience can offer the finest features of a quality hotel, with the added pleasure of making instant friends in a new place.
A B&B differs from a hotel in that the innkeeper usually owns the property and resides there. There are usually fewer than six guest rooms and they can provide very personal attention. There is no hard rule for this. Some 20-room inns offer breakfast and advertise themselves as a B&B even if the owner is nowhere in evidence.
FOBBA (an Ontario B&B association) defines a B&B as "An owner-occupied private residential dwelling that is the owners' principal residence and in which the owner has control of the environment. It provides temporary accommodation not exceeding 28 consecutive days, and amenities and services ancillary to guest accommodation, including the preparation and service of breakfast for an all inclusive fee."
Ratings systems are voluntary and at the discretion of the individual property owners. Many unrated properties are worth your consideration. All successful B&Bs have one thing in common: the owners like people and enjoy having people in their home!
Most B&Bs are allowed to serve only breakfast. Some serve a "Continental" breakfast, which consists of coffee, juice and a choice of breads and pastries. Most serve a "Full" breakfast, including fruits, cereals, eggs and/or meat, breads, juice, and coffee.
Previous Guests' comments can be helpful. You should also see pictures and talk to the innkeepers before making reservations. You will be living in their home; you should feel comfortable from your very first telephone contact. Innkeepers themselves usually have a few rules out of respect for other Guests and for the home itself.
Cooking and unregistered Guests are usually not allowed. Smoking, pets and children are always something that must be confirmed in advance. As most owners don't have extra staff, it is important to be aware of the check in and check out times. Operators need time to clean rooms, go grocery shopping, do their bookkeeping, sewing, minor repairs, etc. Avoid surprises for yourself and your innkeeper by keeping these considerations in mind.
In a city property, parking is often not available on site, but public transit makes it easy to get around. Most B&Bs supply Guests with a house key so they can come and go at any hour. Check-in time must be confirmed in advance, so the innkeeper can be there to meet you. Not all B&Bs accept all or any credit cards. Deposit and cancellation policies are generally less forgiving than hotels (as a late cancellation may mean a significant loss to the small innkeeper).
While not always the case, B&Bs may cost less than a hotel, especially when you consider most have fewer taxes applied, there is no charge for local phone calls, breakfast is included, snacks are usually free and you don't tip the bellman. The love and attention the innkeeper lavishes on the property and on their Guests is an added benefit not often received in a large hotel setting.
Deposit and Cancellation policies?
Please be sure of your dates and travel plans before you book your stay at a Bed and Breakfast. Unlike many hotels your Bed and Breakfast hosts will not double book their rooms. Once they have committed to you to hold a room for you, they will turn subsequent inquiries away.
Just as you would expect your room and host to be ready for your arrival, your host is counting on you to arrive on the specified day and time. For this reason, many Bed and Breakfast hosts will secure a deposit for your room.
Typically, 50 percent of the reservation amount would be requested at the time of booking to be held as a deposit to hold a room. In the event of cancellation, there would be an administration charge of $25 to $50 dollars. Cancellations of less than 30 days typically result in a loss of the deposit amount.
Please note that the required deposit and refundable portion of the deposit should a cancellation be required will vary with local B&B policies. Some areas have a higher number of last minute requests, while other locations may have guests who typically book accommodations weeks or months in advance. Each Bed and Breakfast will have their own deposit and cancellation policies which should be clearly identified on their individual web sites.
It is the responsibility of the guest at the time of booking to consider these policies.
Many travellers purchase trip cancellation insurance to cover their losses in the event of unforeseen changes in their plans. Your host will be glad to verify to your insurance agent any losses incurred to you in such an event
What about children?
Many B&Bs are child-free zones. Many bed and breakfast Guests prefer an adult environment. Indeed, it is for the assurance of this environment that most B&B Guests have selected a B&B, rather than a hotel. Families with children should check first, as many B&Bs are not generally set up to accommodate children safely, and many are furnished (and catered) with adult tastes in mind.
Why a minimum stay of two or more days?
There are reasons why some B&Bs often do not accept one-night visitors. First, the innkeepers enjoy sharing their home and getting to know people from all over the world. This is not often possible when a Guest checks in, sleeps, has breakfast and checks out. This limits "satisfaction" for the innkeeper. The second reason is economics: With few rooms to let, it maximizes occupancy if the visits are longer. Accepting a one-night Saturday visit, for example, might prevent another Guest from staying from Thursday to Monday.
What about tipping?
That's another advantage to B&Bs over hotels. Innkeepers will always go out of their way to ensure you have every comfort and service within their power, and not expect gratuities.
Different terminology may be used by operators. Generally, the following applies. Make sure you clarify when reserving.
En suite: In Canada, the term "en suite" refers to a bathroom that is private, inside and attached to the sleeping unit.
Private: A bathroom that is for the sole use of a sleeping unit but may be outside of the room.
Private Adjacent: A bathroom that is for the sole use of a sleeping unit but is immediately outside of the room.
Shared / Semi Private: Bathrooms that are used in common by more than one room. Should not be more than two guest rooms sharing. Each room should be supplied with its own towels.
The perfect choice for your vacation may be in a spot where there is a shared bathroom. Within the CanadaBBHosts ratings system that means that there will be a maximum of four people to one bathroom (probably fewer people than when you were a child at home). It does mean, however, that you may be sharing the bathroom with people that you don't know. Your host will do their best to maintain this at a high level of sanitation, but there are a couple of things to keep in mind.
When using a shared bathroom, try to be as quick as possible, take all your personal items back to your room every time, and if you find that the bathroom needs attention, do mention it to the host.
A visit to a B&B is not an ocean voyage. Leave your steamer trunks at home, please.
Want to open and operate a Bed and Breakfast?
Check out this site for our 'how to do it' Bed & Breakfast book and