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Tuesday, 31 August 2010

I was a stranger and ye took me in - Second Visitation

Readers of the original post on this topic (I was a stranger and ye took me in ) will know that I have some issues with the B&B crowd.  My antipathy toward this concept came to the fore again the other night when I was watching the latest episode in “The Hotel Inspector” where Alex Polizzi was trying to persuade a charming but out of touch couple to update their stately B&B.  The wife of this couple, at one point, made the plaintive comment that “this is our private home” which had me frothing at the mouth immediately.  This couple were charging guests £200 per night for one of their luxurious bedrooms plus breakfast.  It seems to me that this is the central flaw in the B&B concept that you are somehow inviting visitors into your own home and therefore have a right to have the decoration and amenities that you want and your guests should be suitably grateful.  My message to those who think like this is as follows:

Once you ask someone to pay for their stay with you, it is no longer ‘your private home’ but becomes an hotel.  THIS IS PARTICULARLY THE CASE IF YOU’RE TAKING £200 A NIGHT FROM THEM!

I once stayed in a similar (although much cheaper) establishment on the Welsh Borders.  The place was stacked full of antiques and photos abounded of the owners meeting various members of the Royal Family, which I assume was to put the visitor in his/her place from the outset.  This was one of those places where you get the impression that the room you are occupying normally belongs to someone else, who could come back at any moment.  In this case, most of the wardrobe space was taken up with the carefully packaged clothing of their daughter (photos of whom took pride of place on every available surface).  I confidently expected her to stride through at some point, jodhpurs steaming, to effect a quick change before the Hunt Ball (which I always thought of as a competition).  My question is, why do we assume that this is a perfectly ok way to treat paying guests in a B&B when we wouldn’t accept it for a moment in a hotel?

I’ve written before about the time when I was given a camp bed in someone’s study in a B&B in Dublin and again was made to feel that I should be grateful for it (see Occasional Showers in Steady Past Your Granny’s).

If you ever watched that series called (I think) “Three in a Bed” where various couples who ran B&Bs took it in turns to stay at each other’s establishments and criticise same, then you will definitely have seen this mindset demonstrated.  I remember one hostess becoming very upset because her ‘guests’ had not even touched her fresh fruit breakfast creation.  It never occurred to her that as paying customers they should have what they wanted not what she wanted to give them (and be praised for).  We recently stayed at a B&B in Llangollen where I was astonished to be told that I would have to remove my shoes before climbing the stairs so as not to spoil the cream coloured carpet.  Why it never occurred to anybody to consider the advisability of fitting a cream coloured carpet in a heavy traffic area and to perhaps think about changing the carpet rather than training the customers, I just do not know.

Is it just me or does anyone else out there agree?I