When staying in an environment as intimate and as personal as a Bed & Breakfast, there are some essential guidelines one must know, to maximize their stay and know what to expect!
The Home Stay is called ‘Chambre d’hotes’ in French and Bed & Breakfast in English. So what is it exactly? It’s a private bedroom or entire suite offered by a private person in his/her family home, to a foreign guest. Staying in someone's home is the ultimate and most authentic cultural immersion experience traveling; and often is the highlight and most memorable part of an entire trip. Guests can be sure that each of our listed B&B dwellings present warm-hearted people and experiences which offer more congeniality than that found in a hotel.
Each B&B location exudes an atmosphere in which both guest and host can best enjoy a sense of association and fellowship yet also enjoy privacy and independence. It doesn’t have to be awkward or intimidating or anything to shy away from; travelers just need to know the 'rules' (more like guidelines) that help to establish roles and responsibilities and what to expect and even some ideas on 'how to break the ice'!
- Respect and Relax – Treat the home as you would your own, and as you would like guests to treat your home. This means definitely relax and enjoy the comfort of the home (lounge, kitchen, TV, make tea/coffee, read books) but with respect to space, peacefulness and tidiness. E.g. avoid parading naked, yelling, rearranging furniture, leaving food scraps, inviting strangers, watch TV till 3am, clipping toe nails in the kitchen.
- Request a separate entry – Guests who want privacy should pick a B&B that offers a private entry separate to host that leads directly into the guest room, suite or terrace. All Petite B&B homes that offer private entries are indicated - use our search filters to find them.
- Expect a home not a hotel – B&B's are kept to very high standards of quality but do not expect hotel style or hotel luxuries. Certain wear and tear is expected as are personal items, but that is part of the authentic and charming home experience. Guests can be assured organization and cleanliness is always assured.
- Paying your host – Get cash out before arriving at your B&B and offer payment upfront at check-in. Hosts are too polite to ask and it could turn into an uncomfortable situation later. Payment upfront is the standard B&B ‘rule’. Besides, it is better to get formalities out of the way so you can get on with enjoying Paris and your B&B without any awkwardness later.
- Cash or card? - Most B&B's accept cash only with no credit card facility. Please remember authentic B&B's are not hotels and they are not boutique B&Bs either which run like hotel/businesses; classic homestay B&B's are real residents home hence they have no transaction centers of card facilities. Note: Despite being regular locals our B&B hosts are industry professionals with much experience in B&B hosting so guests need not fear a lack of refined polished and beautiful service. There is no person more professional and hospitable host than a real local host!
- Breakfast and other meals – The B&B is a professional service that provides breakfast by exceptional people. It is not characteristic for them to serve dinner but if you ask they may make the exception (just be mindful of timing, ask in advance and include dietary restrictions). Some hosts offer dinner or snacks or arrival platters as an extra service. Tip: If you are served something you don’t like at breakfast, don’t be too polite to say so, or you may get it again. And again.
- DIY Cooking: Guests looking to save cash by cooking more meals, or needing to prepare special dietary meals can pick a B&B with kitchen access. Always clean up after yourself.
- Accessibility - Different B&B's have different access levels. Classic B&Bs offer a guest room and bath, others offer the lounge too and others offer complete use. Pick your preference and be aware of your access before booking, arriving or whipping up fancy meals in a private kitchen. B&Bs offering complete use, guests should feel at complete ease to access rooms anytime, but don’t take advantage e.g. cooking three times a day; or late at night.
- Network the neighborhood – Utilize your B&B host for tips on the best stores, cafes, restaurants, markets. Find out where they frequent (a regular bakery or bar perhaps), drop their name to the store-man and voila, instant rapport! It’s a great ‘IN’ with some locals and local businesses and to erase the ‘I’m just a tourist’ sign on your forehead. It will open you right up with confidence to your own little neighborhood community.
- Be a sport – Offer to go out and pick up some milk or bread or anything your host might need. They will love the gesture creating a warm bond and it’s a great reason to go back to the local store and continue the dialogue with the locals.
- Coming and going – Guests are given a set of keys, free to come and go as they wish. It is courteous to let your host know when you will be late if you expect it, but it’s not necessary or anything to worry over. Hosts understand unexpected late nights happen. Tip: If your host is out you can leave a note. Some B&B's offer guests own private entries so coming in and out at odd hours will go unnoticed and usually unheard too.
- Speaking English - Most B&B hosts speak at least adequate English but use the opportunity to practice your language skills staying in their home. If you experience language barriers, smile it’s the universal language, gentle gestures and sign language go a long way. Ideally you will have a phrase book, or use Google translate. Many hosts offer language lessons either free over breakfast or as an additional charge.
- Bring a little souvenir – Bring your host a souvenir from home - Something small to giggle at or to start a conversation about your differing cultures.
- Friend VS Host – Get to know your host on a personal level and share a little about you; say yes to their invitations for sharing moments together such as a coffee, visiting a museum together or going on a walking tour – it’s a great way to expand the relationship beyond the B&B and see a local’s perspective of the city. Hosts can become good friends, but guests must know where to draw the host/guest line i.e. don’t ask for a discount, this will strain the new relationship; do not turn into a lazy ‘room-mate’, refer to Rule 1: ‘Respect and Relax’.
- Know your rights - Inspect their B&B to ensure it is as described before taking possession or paying. Quality, comfort and peace are your right. If for any reason your B&B home turns out to be less than expected mid-way through your stay; speak with your host first, they will always work to accommodate and please you; next contact your booking service provider to switch immediately to a new home if the issue is too disruptive. Never ask your host for a refund as this will cause awkwardness - always contact your booking service provider for any payment related issues.
- Arrival must-do's – On arrival expect help with luggage, a drink and a warm welcome from your host. Offer your identification - a necessary security step for hosts to ensure they are welcoming the correct guests in their home; allow yourself to be shown around the home; ask/confirm details i.e shared spaces; establish breakfast times and dietary needs; negotiate any specific extra needs; book meals or tours; make your payment; receive keys and entry codes details; be guided with all other formalities by your experienced host.
- Play the host – A little gesture to bring home treats you discover on the streets, a cake or bread from a new Bakery or fresh cherry tomatoes or other seasonal fruit; offer hosts a glass of your wine; share any local discoveries - it may be new to hosts who love to learn just as much about their own city through their guests. Think of your tips as information to be passed on to future guests who will have a wonderful experience thanks to you!
- Laundry service – Take advantage of the free laundry service, but don’t take advantage. i.e no laundry everyday. Doing laundry in your en-suite is a no-no.
- Sleepovers – Always ask before inviting friends to the B&B with respect for the privacy and security of their hosts home and belongings. Also hosts will never have strangers in the home for guests their own comfort and security.
- B&B boundaries – B&B's with private ensuite's are available but in a standard B&B you may be sharing the bathroom with your host therefore you should expect their personal items to be there too. However as professionals, hosts will always give you priority use (in many cases you won’t ever see your host go in) and will never hurry you though try not to spend hours, and the bathroom is cleaned daily.
- Hosts other homes - as mentioned our hosts are real residents and for some the B&B service is not their only form of income and they must work 9to5 jobs too. Though they will always remain available to guests via phone, please be mindful of this i.e there may be set breakfast times only, so best not to demand breakfast at 10am or 11am if the host needs to leave for work or other commitments.
- Put the shoe on the other foot – Always put yourself in your hosts shoes, treat the B&B the way you would hope and expect a guest would treat your home. Equally your host will be trying to make you feel as ‘at home’ and comfortable as possible, as you might too, to a guest stay in your own home. Being a B&B host takes a lot of time, care and generosity; it takes a certain special someone to open their home up to the world and to dedicate themselves to looking after so many guests in addition to their own jobs and family responsibilities.
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