Charmed To Death

Union Gables Bed and Breakfast

I dread visiting bed and breakfasts.

Don’t get me wrong; when I’m traveling, I’d much rather support a small business owner than some “hospitality conglomerate.”

And, in some ways, the B&B experience trumps any cookie-cutter hotel:

  • First, the food is better; many B&Bs prepare homemade morning meals with fresh, local ingredients. At hotels, you’re lucky to get waffles from a bag mix.
  • Second, B&Bs have charm. Often, the owner packs each room with skimmable books and interesting local knick-knacks. Meanwhile, hotels settle for sterile blandness; a room in Akron boasts the same wall art as a room in Portland. You’re stuck with the same worthless TV channels you’d watch at home.
  • Finally, at B&Bs, everyone you meet is genuinely friendly…

… But that’s the problem; they’re too friendly. See, there’s an unspoken understanding at B&Bs; guests are expected to spend some time making conversation. For example, there’s the obligatory twenty-minute check-in chat, in which you dutifully describe the details of your trip for the proprietor. You’ll then repeat that spiel for each of your fellow guests. When you return to the house at day’s end, be prepared to discuss your outing. And, worst of all, many B&Bs force strangers to take seats around the breakfast table and endure one last chat with people you’ll never meet again.

Some travelers relish these chance encounters with strangers; they want to meet new people. But for introverts like me, small talk feels like a resented chore, antithetical to rest.

Give me the quieter, antisocial experience of the average hotel chain. I want a staff who treats me with indifference and prefers not to hear from me at all. I love how fellow hotel guests avoid eye contact in the dining room or fitness center.

At the soulless hotel, there are no social gatekeepers and no conversational tolls to pay.