HD Talks

Bringing Back the B&B

Posted by on November 6, 2013 in Projects, Trends | 1 comment

There’s something to be said for budget traveling abroad. While there’s a large part of me that loves predictable, clean rooms with English-speaking concierges, the B & B is often a shortcut to an authentic experience.

Last week I met a friend in Cannes, France, and we walked, flew, drove, and rode around Rome and the Amalfi Coast. With her budget as an English teacher for the French embassy, she would have been perfectly happy staying in hostels. I however, read and write about beautiful hotels for a living, and some crummy hostel was not going to fly.

Following an eight-hour trek involving two trains, two buses, a plane, and the metro, we found ourselves inside an apartment around the corner from Vatican City. The host, a young local woman, welcomed us by immediately apologizing for her bad English and for addressing me as Mr. Waldo in her emails to me (Apparently my name is foreign in Italy; people kept calling me Erina).

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B & B Etere in Prati, Rome

Perhaps because she thought she would be hosting a couple instead of a pair of exhausted 23-year-old girls, we stayed in a red room adorned with romantic touches, including rose-shaped candles, dim red lights, and a clothes hanger that read, ‘Bride.’ The overwhelming red palette and the suggestive décor thankfully did not take away from the room’s cleanliness or comfort. In the morning, when we sat down to breakfast with other guests from Prague and London, and I tried to explain to our host what peanut butter was, and the place took on a sense of charm.

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Salerno in Alto Mare B & B

Leaving Rome behind, we next wandered to Salerno, a small city south of Positano on the Amalfi Coast. A young, rather attractive Italian man played our host, and with his congeniality we felt more like we were just staying in an extra room in his place rather than a B & B. Our room was incredibly simple but offered a spectacular view along with air conditioning and sound-proof windows–a blessing I wouldn’t normally think about in a branded hotel. We got to know our host, who insisted on cooking up a huge breakfast for us every day while complaining how he had to do the dishes by hand later.

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Salerno in Alto Mare B & B

These places may not have been 5-Star resorts, but we might not have made the friends we did or felt quite as welcome at a big hotel. Seeing the daily lives of these owners contrasted against the stereotypical pizza-baking, in-your-personal-space, mamma mia Italy, instead offering a glimpse into real-world Italy.

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Salerno in Alto Mare B & B

1 Comment

  1. Great article. I have stayed at many B & B’s in Europe over the years and am
    ready to do it again.
    Thank you.