Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Vacation Accommodations

I talked with a friend the other day who is doing some traveling with her husband.  When I asked if they stay in bed and breakfasts, she said no, they stay in hotels.  They're just not comfortable staying in other people's homes and eating breakfast with them!

That got me thinking about the bed and breakfasts we've stayed in over the years.

There certainly have been times when we've "stayed in people's homes and eaten breakfast with them," but we've chosen other situations as well.  Once Tom and the boys and I found a condo in Portland through For Rent by Owner, a national directory of rentals listed by region and state.  Even as a last minute trip, we were able to find a reasonably priced place where we could stay to see the city and entertain friends who lived in town.

We used FRBO again when we went to Phoenix for my niece's wedding last spring.  My parents, brother, sister and I got a lovely house for several days; we did our own cooking and split the cost.  It was a great experience!
House in Phoenix which I rented with my family
We've been served breakfast in the dining room with other B&B guests and at other times we've been the only guests being served.  One innkeeper was especially enchanting, with her stories of her childhood in Hawaii and how she and her husband met and established their bed and breakfast.  She's booked all summer long with weddings -- providing lodging for the family, a wedding location, and reception catering.

At the table last week we were seated with a couple we had never met, but our conversation soon drew us to things we had in common -- music, Jesus, special needs children, and Tom's sister Marilee, with whom they'd been friends for several years!!  Our hostess, whose stories of her own travels and interests had delighted us the day before, said, "I am always surprised to see how my guests have so much in common.  One day both the couples who sat around my table owned hot air balloons!!"

But not all our stays have included breakfast with our hosts.  Our first B&B experience was on Orcas Island, where we enjoyed our first anniversary compliments of several friends who had given us a gift certificate as a wedding gift.  It was in a lovely old hotel with bathrooms down the hall and vouchers for breakfast in the hotel's restaurant.  We drove around the island, exploring places we'd each visited as kids, creating memories of our own, and fell in love with the bed and breakfast experience.

We've stayed in downtown Bellingham, in Seattle near the University of Washington, in a small first level apartment on a hill overlooking LaConner (no breakfast, just a tiny fridge and an electric tea kettle), and a lovely lodge out in the country.  We've enjoyed beautiful gardens, country walks, big city sights and sounds, and the waters of Puget Sound lapping on the beach nearby.  We've appreciated access to the hot tub, the occasional opportunity to prepare our own dinners in our unit, cookies and tea in the sun room, and movies in the common area.  Simplicity to luxury, we've done a little of both and a lot in the middle.

Perhaps our most memorable stay was in an older cabin, overlooking Puget Sound, which came with a basket of goodies for breakfast.  It was quaint and cozy. We hadn't heard the wind kicking up while we slept until there was a terrific crash in our room.  We both shot straight up and looked around.  There on the floor, across the room from our bed, was the window that had blown out!  We were grateful that the window was not over the bed!

The window in the next room blew out in the night!

Hotels are nice.  They are usually predictable (though my sister has a few stories and, come to think of it, so do I!) and a good place to stay when you travel.  But an inn, a bed and breakfast, or a farm stay -- these provide some flavor to the trip, some adventure, something out-of-the-ordinary.  They'll always be my preference!

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