Bed and Breakfast in Ontario: Tips from a local travel writer to find the best deals to suit your needs.
When I travel, I often stay at B and Bs. Here are some of the reasons why I like them, and what I look for when I'm doing my trip planning.
Why stay at a B and B?
Price – You can save money by staying at a bed and breakfast – if you're careful. See section on "Cost" below.
Appearance – Many Bed and Breakfasts are actually historic homes and are decorated with antique furniture. The "Victorian" look is very popular with B and B owners. I have stayed at some though that are quite modern-looking.
Comfortable and cozy – Since B and Bs are actually homes, not just businesses, they tend to be a lot more cozy than the typical hotel or motel.
Friendly – Your "hosts" are not just hired “staff”. They own these homes and tend to be very proud of their property, their service AND their community. So they're great sources of local information, as are the other guests that you'll probably meet over breakfast. If you're looking for an authentic experience, what better way than to stay with a local family?
Breakfast is a pretty broad term. In some B and Bs, the owners are excellent cooks and prepare hot meals. (A warning, though: At Casa Dizon in Orillia my three-course gourmet breakfasts made it very difficult to adjust to life at home again!) In other B and Bs, the breakfast is basic – just cereals, fruits, muffins, yoghurts, etc.
Your bed and breakfast in Ontario may also set aside a living room with television and seating area for reading, or a porch area for relaxing, as well as many other house amenities. Some provide televisions in the guest rooms as well.
Some even provide boats and other sporting equipment. Check to see if they're included in the posted price or extra.
Where are Ontario B and Bs located?
You can find B and Bs in big cities, small towns and rural areas. I look for B and Bs when I travel because I don’t drive and many are located in downtown areas which is handy for getting to attractions.
How much does it cost?
Prices for a bed and breakfast in Ontario vary. Toronto and popular resort areas tend to charge more. The most luxurious ones can run close to hotel prices in the same area, but you'll also find some that are less expensive. This is one of the reasons why I often choose them when I travel – to save money.
Grades of B and Bs
You’ll find many web sites offering listings of Ontario B and Bs, but not that many offer much guidance or any guarantee of quality. Anyone can list on these sites.
Not so on the Federation of Bed and Breakfasts Association. This group inspects their members’ B and Bs and guarantees a certain level of standards. Some even give STAR ratings based on basic comfort, superior furnishings, luxury standards, etc. See http://www.fobba.com. In other words, they’ve done some of the screening for you.
How to find one
The best web site I’ve found so far is the one I mentioned in the section above: the Federation of Bed and Breakfasts Association: http://www.fobba.com. Here you can quickly search for a place by bed size, number of beds, amenities, location, if they take pets, etc. Easy to use and members listed have to conform to certain standards. They also give “STAR ratings”.
You can also check with the local Tourist Office for names of B and Bs in their area, but they won’t usually give you any opinions about their quality as they can’t be seen as playing favourites.
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