Hotel or B&B?

When we go to Elmira (see yesterday’s post), Barbara and I usually stay at the Hilton Garden Inn in Horseheads. (Yes, you heard that right: Horseheads.) Like any of the low-end Hiltons, it is boring, predictable, and perfectly adequate. So for 2005 we decided on a more exciting option: a high-Victorian Bed & Breakfast in Elmira, the Painted Lady. Our beautiful suite at this warm and friendly B&B was only slightly more expensive than our room at the Hilton would have been, but it returned many times the subjective value.

There is, of course, always a trade-off when choosing good B&B’s over average hotels:

  • In a B&B — in the right B&B, at any rate — you get personalized service, great breakfasts, comfort, an atmosphere completely free of residual smoke, and a home-like feel.
  • In a hotel — in the right one, again — you get room-service, fresh towels and sheets every single day*, a 24-hour front desk [who cares?], a swimming pool, and a microwave oven in the room.

The B&B is clearly worth the trade-off, especially when it’s the Painted Lady, which provides elegant but comfortable surroundings, restaurant advice and reservations, a jacuzzi in each guest room, a billiards room and a lovely piano room on the first floor, and a real featherbed. Like the hotel, they also provide a fridge in each room, and Wi-Fi with free Internet access and a VCR/DVD player, so there’s no need to suffer technology withdrawal. These modern necessities come amidst the 12-foot ceilings and exuberant ornateness of the peak of the Victorian era, where “too much is never enough.”

The good proprietors of the Painted Lady (who are originally from Massachusetts, by the way) claim to provide

refined elegance, luxurious surroundings and pampered relaxation.

And they really do! I highly recommend their B&B.

*The B&B norm is purportedly every two or three days — though our towels were changed and our bed made every day except for Christmas Day itself.

Categories: Travel