“Exploiting a B&B is more than just a job, it’s a calling. That is the large surplus value of a B&B.” Flemish journalist Pierre Darge said last Sunday during the B&B Expo in Brussels. Darge has been writing reviews about bed & breakfasts in Belgium for ten years.
Bed & breakfast vs hotel
Why do people go to a B&B, instead of a hotel? It’s a question he has often been asked. He answers it with a simple example. “A hotelkeeper buys his orange juice at the wholesalers; a B&B-owner presses his own oranges. A hotelkeeper doesn’t make time for that, a good B&B host or hostess does. That is the big difference.”
Running a B&B is more than just a job, he says. “It is a calling, because if you divide the profit through the number of hours a B&B-owner puts into it, he doesn’t make much money from it. This calling of the owner is the large surplus value of a bed & breakfast.”
This drive manifests itself in hospitality, flexibility and an excellent service. “Staying open until 11 o’clock in the evening and being back open at six in the morning. Two newspapers at breakfast. And up until now, I have never had to pay for a Wi-Fi-connection at a B&B.”
Also typical for the better B&B is the excellent quality, the journalist continues. “You get the best of everything. No ordinary bed, but an Auping or Hästings; only the best materials are good enough. Flemish B&B-owners are perfectionists and have raised the standards incredibly high.”
Darge was speaking mostly about bed and breakfasts in Belgium and the Netherlands. But everywhere in Europe there are very luxurious and comfortable B&B’s that can compete with the best five-star hotels. For example, on Bedandbreakfast.eu search for B&B’s that score a 9 out of 10 in the reviews.
B&B: a unique experience
Very important is the unique experience a bed & breakfast offers, says Darge. A peek in the life of the guest family, feeding animals at the farm, taking a tour through the region with the owner. “What people are looking for is authenticity, genuineness, a personal touch. You can still find that at B&B’s.”
He mentions some examples. “A perfectly restored nineteenth century mansion, classically furnished but with a beautiful contemporary style. Or an old farmhouse with a surprisingly minimalistic Zen-decoration inside. Also stuck in my memory are the fresh strawberries I once got served at breakfast, fresh from the garden! That is real surplus value; the authenticity you won’t find in a hotel.”