B&B vs AirBnb Which to Choose?

Obviously I am a bit biased towards bed and breakfasts and inns. There are clear distinctions between the two different styles of accommodations. Being a bit of a hospitality expert (innkeeper and owner) and having stayed in many Airbnb homes I can verify those differences. The following are MY observations of those differences.

Top of the list is Hospitality. Only after the booking is made is the location revealed with Airbnb. Sometimes the communication is with the actual owner and sometimes it is with a booking manager. A booking with Airbnb will most likely give you access to the home without ever meeting the owner/manager. Keys are left and you are on your own to search around for information. Some owners are good at leaving notes and recommendations, others, not so much. Personally, we have had good experiences and some very bad. Case in point: A couple of years back, we took my husband's entire staff and significant others to a "Luxury Home facing the Ocean" in the Dominican Republic. Upon arrival, the local manager (owners live in Canada) demanded cash as part of the payment. That was not stated in advance and we arrived on a Sunday. No open banks obviously. There was an armed guard at the door at all times. That was not expected and unnerving. The home was grossly misrepresented and everyone (except me) became terribly ill from drinking the water on property. The house was unsafe and we were stuck there as there were no other properties to accommodate our large group. It was a horrible experience. I contacted Airbnb and they agreed to refund a VERY small portion of the stay. The manager was horrible to work with.

In contrast, a Bed and Breakfast is (for the most part) is owned and operated by the owners. There is a common thread among most b&b owners and that is to begin the stay with a warm welcome. At Clifton Heights Inn, we are always at the door greeting our guests. They are given a brief summary of what to expect. We offer them an afternoon snack and beverages. They are personally shown to their room. We offer a full concierge service and happy to make reservations for them. In addition, the guests are given our phone number and encouraged to call or text us with any questions. We live on property and are readily available.

Food would be next on the list. With Airbnb, depending on the selection you make, there is a kitchen to prepare one's own food. Personally, when traveling with our grown children, we prefer that as some of them have dietary restrictions. Having said that, when my husband and I travel alone, we prefer to be catered to. The most you are going to get out of an Airbnb is perhaps coffee to go with the Mr. Coffee maker.

Clifton Heights Inn prepares a gourmet breakfast every morning using only the best ingredients whenever possible. We start out with fresh ground coffee and hot tea which are provided first thing each morning prior to breakfast for the "early birds." Our gourmet meals start off with a first course of fruit followed by a full meal. We pride ourselves in offering alternative breakfasts for our gluten-free and vegan guests.

Space widely varies with Airbnb properties. We have stayed in homes where the closets and drawers were filled with the owner's clothes to homes without closets. Due to most of the Airbnbs starting out as personal residences, I have yet to stay in one that had a decent bathroom. The other oddity tends to be lack of lamps. We stayed in a lovely Airbnb in Tulum, Mexico that really had just about everything we needed except lamps. No bedside lamps or in the common seating area forcing us to sit under annoying ceiling lights with LED bulbs. There would be NO bedside reading at night at this place.

A lot of planning went into the design of Clifton Heights Inn. We really wanted to make it inviting. We strive for the guest wanting to stay longer. Each guest room is fitted with table lamps on each side of the bed along with sleep sound machines and docking stations. Our ensuite bathrooms have large vanities with multiple drawers, soaking tubs and separate showers. Each room also includes 2 bathrobes and slippers.

Cleanliness is a deal breaker for me. I would like to say that you get what you pay for but that is not necessarily true with an Airbnb. We have laid down some significant cash on a place that didn't reflect the high price. Some of those places charged a lot simply for the location. There is no reason for dinginess. We recently stayed in a home in for a week. It was large and suited our needs but I have to say that I was leery about the cleanliness of the dishes and the bed linens were quite old causing me to question if they were even clean. Again, no one there to ask questions. They simply left us a code to use to enter the property. No housekeeping services of any kind.

We are nuts about cleanliness at our bed and breakfast. It has become somewhat of an obsession (ask my part time housekeeper!) We check and double check the rooms before checking in our guests. Our guest rooms go thru a checklist every time a guest leaves so as to not forget any detail. We use high quality towels and all sheets and pillow cases are ironed to give a special luxurious feel to the beds. Guests often remark about our spotless rooms and attention to detail. Each day of our guest's stay, we refresh the rooms with light housekeeping and towel replacements.

Safety, Maintenance and Liability should be on every traveler's mind. Airbnb homes are not subjected to safety inspections. The home we rented in the Dominican Republic had no safety features. There were no smoke/fire alarms. No emergency lighting (our power went out for 2 days on and off...) The primary reason for these details not being addressed is that the majority of Airbnb hosts fly "under the radar." They are not registered as an inn with their city. Because of that, they don't adhere (or are unaware) of the safety regulations. In addition, they often do not carry business insurance either. Should you get sick or hurt on their property you will be out of luck if they do not carry business insurance. Homeowner's insurance does NOT cover renting out your home. Ever. If you get hurt on an Airbnb property and can prove that you paid to stay there you better hope they have commercial insurance. It is very expensive and because of that most don't carry it. In order to have it, they would have to have their home meet certain safety standards which most hosts are not willing to do.

All bed and breakfast owners are in compliance. We are registered with our local city, have passed all necessary inspections and have obtained commercial insurance. Our property is fitted with hard-wired smoke/fire detectors. There is emergency lighting on all levels and we even added a staircase to ensure easy egress in the event of an emergency. The city inspections are very strict and we have adhered to all of the regulations in order to be open for business. Trust me, most Airbnbs have not taken these necessary steps. Too costly. Be sure to ask when making an Airbnb reservation.

Personal Service is our claim to fame. The beauty of a Bed and Breakfast is the connections made. We do our very best to make our guests feel welcome. They arrive as strangers and leave as friends. My heart skips a beat every time we get a repeat lodger. It drives home the point that I am in the right place doing what I love. I will continue to stay at the occasional Airbnb but I know what to look for and what to ask about in advance. Happy lodging!

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