A History of the Bed and Breakfast

The old-time tradition of welcoming travelling strangers with open arms dates back to the very earliest recorded history for almost all worldwide cultures and religions. Soldiers and religious pilgrims aside, travelling for either business or pleasures began all the way back in the 1700’s. Hordes of “stagecoach” or “coaching” inns, commonly found in the eastern U.S., as well as in England, provided travellers with lodging via very modest accommodations.

Accommodating travellers

These accommodations also provided stabling for horse owners. The advent of the railroads led to a boost in comfort for travellers, with literally hundreds of accommodations developed near train stations in order to accommodate the increasing number of travellers. As the U.S. industrialised, a growing number of people had the time and money for travel, and escaping the sun-drenched cities to seaside villages or cooler mountains became a thing to do. Families with wealth would spend their summers in luxury resorts or private villas, with working-class families heading off to boarding houses.

Guests welcome

During the U.S. Great Depression, the concept of taking in boarders rapidly increased. Homes along state routes (long before the days of Interstate Highways) commonly posted signs that said ‘Guests’ or ‘Tourist Homes’, where travellers were able to book a room for around $2 a night, typically including breakfast. Bed and breakfasts were about to really take over. American travel to Europe enjoyed a boom post-WW11, and strong U.S. currency enabled millions of Americans to enjoy B&Bs in England and Ireland, as well as their equivalents on the Continent. The seeds for B&Bs were planted in the 1980’s. And while they were initially cost-effective and casual places of abode with minimal amenities and shared bathrooms, they have grown to become luxury accommodations.

American boom

The boom of B&Bs in America was influenced by a number of factors. One was the enjoyment that Americans found from B&Bs they’d experienced in Europe. The 1976 U.S. Bicentennial resulted in renewed efforts into preserving the country’s architectural heritage, and historic properties were awarded tax credits by accompanying state and federal legislation for the purpose of preservation. A large number of these buildings were situated along busy roads, which made them unsuitable for private residences, although perfectly appropriate for B&Bs. Further, the thousands of large Victorian-era homes weren’t at all desirable for single families, but great choices for B&Bs.

Rapid expansion

There was a rapid expansion in terms of the number of B&Bs in the U.S. in the 1980’s. Despite a wealth of coverage in the media, however, adverting didn’t come cheaply, and being listed in the numerous guidebooks available took at least a year. The Internet boom provided the B&B industry with its biggest boost yet, providing it with an opportunity to promote themselves in the same space as area hotels, by being listed in such directors as BedandBreakfast.com, as well as marketing their services on their own professionally designed website where they could offer a safe and secure Web-based booking system.