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B and B Etiquette

I'm planning a three week driving tour of Scotland and most of our lodgings are B and Bs. I'm imaging that some days we may choose to enjoy the long July days and have a picnic dinner before arriving at our B and B (at perhaps 7pm). If we phone ahead to let them know our plans is that appropriate? I don't want to be rude when we will be staying in someone else's home! I understand that each host is different, but it would be helpful to know what the general expectations are so we can adhere to them.

I also want to send out a general thank you to all of the posters on this forum. I have to say that I get much better advice from the forum than I do from any guide book ;)!

Posted by
123 posts

Elizabeth,
I totally agree with your last paragraph!

Although I never stayed in a trad BnB in Scotland we did use Air BnB for our extended stays in rented flats because we wanted to experience life in neighborhoods as residents (thus wanted our own kitchens, access to farmers markets or local stores, public transportation and artists, etc.). I would assume the etiquette is similar for a trad BnB as an Air Bnb: your host and you will be connecting on day of arrival.
For example, our first host texted us on the tarmac at the airport when our plane landed from the USA. We had never been to Scotland. She literally walked us through the airport to the tram...all while staying on the phone with us while she was at work. Then, even though the flat was not ready, she allowed us to drop off our luggage and suggested some wonderful lunch options plus a good walk for shaking off jet lag.
I believe you will find Scots to be among the friendliest and most accommodating folks anywhere.

Please let us know how you make out!

Posted by
184 posts

I think Rick puts it rather well ..........

"Staying in B&B’s can be a great way to save money over sleeping in a bigger and more expensive hotel. The philosophy of the management determines the character of the place rather than its size or facilities. My top listings are run by people who enjoy welcoming the world to their breakfast table.

B&B’s come with their own etiquette or quirks. Keep in mind that B&B owners are at the whim of their guests. If you're getting up early, so are they, and if you're checking in late, they'll wait up for you.

B&B’s are not hotels - think of your hosts as friendly acquaintances who have invited you to stay in their home, rather than someone you are paying to wait on you.”

I think it would be very much appreciated by your hosts if you kept them in the loop where your travel arrangements are concerned.

As it happens I was recently speaking with a local B&B proprietor who hosted Rick Steves last year when he was researching his new book and she said he telephoned her twice to confirm his arrival time :-)

Posted by
941 posts

Hi, Elizabeth,

You'll find that most B&B owners are really flexible. Accent on "most"! Usually a designated arrival time is between 4 and 6 p.m. If you've prepaid, you should have no problem, but you should still give a courtesy call if you're arriving later. If you've made arrangements, but not paid ahead of time, it would be best to call by 4:00 to let the host know that you're on the way. That way, they won't give the room away if you don't arrive by 6:00.

We've gotten in as late as 10:30 p.m., after our hike in the Cuillins took twice as long as expected, and we had to take a taxi from Sligachan to Elgol to pick up our car. However, I kept in touch with our host to advise her of our situation. Yes, I did get mobile reception in Glen Sligachan!

Just for courtesy's sake, best not to arrive any later than 8:00 p.m. if you can help it. Most B&B owners have to get up early to get breakfast ready, and many like to have tea and biscuits for their guests in the evening.

Have a wonderful time in Scotland! If it's your first time driving on the left, just drive very carefully for the first couple of hours. After you get used to it, you'll have fun! We'll be over in July as well, so we may see you on the road.

Mike (auchterless)

p.s.: The supermarkets in Scotland have some amazing picnic items that you won't find in the U.S. Also, most have "meal deals," where you get a sandwich or wrap, drink, and dessert for around three pounds. Best to bring some plasticware for those yummy summer trifles and chocolate desserts (not included in the meal deal!). Also plastic knives for slicing some of the wonderful Scottish cheeses.

Posted by
20 posts

Thanks so much for all of the helpful advice! As someone new to the country, I wanted to adhere to cultural norms. Thanks Mike for the tidbit about not arriving after 8 if possible. That is exactly the sort of guideline I was looking for. I do plan to contact hosts the day before about estimated arrival times, but am unsure how reliable my internet and phone service will be.

Mike, we did okay on a six week road trip in New Zealand, the first few round-abouts and single lane bridges were nerve wracking, but we quickly grew accustomed, so expect Scotland will be manageable for us. Also looking forward to the trifles and biscuits!!

Thanks again!

Posted by
941 posts

Hi again, Elizabeth,

No need to call your lodging a day ahead unless you feel more comfortable doing so. The day of arrival is fine.

If you can't get internet or phone service on your own phone or laptop once you get to Scotland, you could pick up an inexpensive "burner" mobile at one of the shops that carry them, i.e.: Vodafone or O2. I don't own a mobile (cell phone) or any type of portable computer, so a few trips ago, I bought an inexpensive flip phone from a Vodafone store, and a SIM card for 15 pounds, which gave me 250 minutes of talk and text, for a period of 30 days. To make calls back to the U.S., I bought a phone card from Tesco for three pounds, which gave me 150 minutes. You can also access the internet at no charge at libraries all over Scotland.

If you run out of time on the SIM card, you can top up in increments of 10 pounds. Top up cards are available everywhere.

A couple of additional things about staying at a B&B: just think of it as staying with relatives - your hosts will most likely treat you like someone who has come to stay in their house for a day or two. Some will be very friendly and offer to help you with everything; others will leave you to your own devices. Just be yourselves. And secondly, you may be seated at breakfast with total strangers. Again, some guests will be friendly, and others will be quiet and noncommunicative. Best to just play it by ear. Again, be yourselves.

Once again, have a wonderful time!

Mike (auchterless)