Bed & Breakfast? Inn? Or Maybe Roses Aren’t Always Roses

When you stay at Hill House, are you staying at a bed and breakfast or an inn? Is there a difference?  Does it matter what's in a name?

Legally, an owner can call his lodging property pretty much whatever he wants, although a bed and breakfast, obviously has to offer something to eat in the morning. But there are markers that define each, some statutory and some by industry tradition. Size is the most common.

Less than eight rooms, it's generally a bed & breakfast. But thanks to AirBnB, many local goverments now term local establishments that are the owner's or manager's primary residence and have one, two, and sometimes three guestrooms, "homestays." Or if whimsy is your thing, maybe when in London you could book at The One Room Hotel. But the great majority of lodgings with seven rooms or less are called bed and breakfasts, and many fit the classic image of a large home whose owners no longer needs all the space, they do some remodeling and open to the public.

More than 12 rooms and up to 20-to-30 when the property gets renamed a "boutique hotel", and you're almost always an inn. Historically, inns have had restaurants.  But unlike hotels, they rarely have someone working all night long. Generally someone, perhaps the owner, other times a manager, concierge or even a caretaker, lives on the property. As often as not, they were built as a lodging property, instead of being redeveloped as one, the exception being urban areas, where human-sized buildings aren't practical to build.

Between 8 and 12 rooms, things can get fuzzy. If the property serves dinner, it will be called an inn more than likely. Others than don't serve only breakfast choose the B&B designation. Some places, like The 404 in Nashville, deftly avoid the question. You can see in the logo above how Hill House's former owners finessed the terminology.

Hill House has 10 rooms, and because we serve a full gourmet breakfast, but no other meals, our marketing consultant felt that "bed and breakfast" was the way to go. But like an inn, the owner doesn't live on property (a resident manager/concierge does), staff handles most of the daily operations, and the building, although it originally was a single-family home, has been a boarding house, apartment building and bed and breakfast for at least 75 years.

So unlike some bed and breakfasts, we can't welcome you into our home. But we do eagerly welcome you into a home-like environment that we work hard to make both warm and cool.

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