The Differences between B&Bs and Vacation Rental Properties

Vacation rental properties are unique when compared to hotels. We know this is why the hotel industry is afraid of vacation rentals. But what about B&Bs? How are they different from vacation rentals? Which accommodation is better?

Each type of accommodation has positives and negatives. This depends on your travel location, date, and desired sociability. In this post, we will discuss the B&B history, traits, and differences from vacation rentals.

What is a B&B?

B&B is the shortened version for “Bed and Breakfast.” As of June 2016, there are roughly 869,687 B&B accommodations worldwide.

So how did this all begin?

The earliest record of travelers were soldiers and religious pilgrimages. These individuals needed a place of lodging. Monasteries are the oldest types of “B&B” accommodations and continue to house travelers.

In the 1700s business travel gained popularity. “Stagecoach” inns popped up. When partnered with railroads, they expanded the B&B industry.

Industrialization and growing wealth also increased traveling. The Great Depression influenced the creation of basic B&B features. This came from the extra income with “Boarding Houses.” These were cheap rooms which provided one free meal.

Following WWII, the U.S. Bicentennial in 1976 influenced Americans to preserve historical architecture. This also increased B&B popularity. Typically, when you think of B&Bs, you may imagine restored historical homes.

Finally, the creation of the internet allowed B&Bs to market themselves. This expanded competition among hotels and gave travelers access to new properties. 

How is a B&B Different from a Vacation Rental?

Now that we know the background of B&Bs, we can see how they differ from vacation rentals.

You Pay for Different Amounts of Space and Privacy

B&Bs, as their titles show, offer a bed and breakfast. Vacation rental properties offer more. They rent the entire property to their guests.

Depending on the property, this means access to private amenities, such as:

  • Kitchen – to save money on food.
  • Driveway – if you drove or rented a car for vacation.
  • Indoor living space – many rooms for renters to live in.
  • Outdoor space – deck, balcony, pool, property with other activities.
  • Recreational areas – basements or game rooms for entertaining.
  • And more!

Guests pay to have an entire apartment, cabin, condo, etc., for themselves. Vacation rental prices are equal to or cheaper than B&Bs. Meaning vacation rental guests have access to more spaces for less money.

A B&B offers similar amenities as a vacation rental, but functions more like a hotel. Booking a B&B means you book a room with everything in it. For instance, you can book a luxurious bedroom. This bedroom may include a sitting area, mini-fridge/coffee machine, and an outdoor balcony. If you are lucky, you may have access to a private bathroom.

Thus, the differences between the two properties revolve around space and privacy

What Does the B&B experience Offer?

While there are exceptions to every rule, B&Bs act as a “get away.” Couples may book a weekend B&B to visit nearby locations. B&Bs are usually short-term bookings.

What first comes to mind with B&Bs is the traditional, cottage/historical B&B experience. Yet, themed B&Bs have gained popularity. They have branched into specific markets for a variety of experiences.

If you stay at a B&B, they emphasize interactions with other guests. This happens through shared spaces. Some shared spaces are:

  • Bathrooms – Some historical B&Bs don’t include private bathrooms with every room. You may revert back to childhood with waiting in line for a shower and hoping there is hot water left!
  • Community breakfast – The best part of staying at a B&B is the free breakfast. Most B&Bs will have a daily schedule of activities, including breakfast. Some B&Bs offer buffet style and large dining room breakfasts. Most B&Bs will tailor breakfast to any dietary restrictions.
  • Living room – B&Bs make it so if you decide to relax on the property, you may be interacting with other travelers while you do. If you decide to read your book in the living room, other guests may join you and want to converse.
  • Activities – Your B&B may offer trips to local sites and shows. If you decide to take part, this means sharing the experience with the other travelers at the B&B.

What Do Vacation Rentals Offer?

Vacation rentals allow guests to live like a local. The vacation rental location gives guests insight into a specific community or niche. B&Bs do this as well. But vacation rentals provide long-term access to these interactions.

Spending a weekend in a location can romanticize it. Yet what if you booked three weeks at a location? You will learn more about the local economy and values than B&B travelers would.

Long term vacation rental bookings have access to laundry services and food preparation. These are features that make long term hotel and B&B bookings expensive or unavailable.

Further, B&Bs only offer you a themed room in a property. Vacation rental properties aren’t limited to traditional style homes. Vacation rentals include:

  • Apartments
  • Condos
  • Log Cabins
  • Beach Houses
  • Tiny Homes
  • Cottages
  • Villas
  • And more

Vacation rentals offer you greater access to a variety of locations.


Which Have More Restrictions? B&Bs or Vacation Rentals?

Different properties have regulations and codes. One article shares the experiences of B&B owners in New Orleans. They said that for someone to have a B&B permit, the owners need to live on the premises.

We know this differs from vacation rental owners who can operate their properties remotely.

Thus, there are changing regulations, usually by state, for vacation rental owners. This has to do with short-term rental competition. These changes range from increased taxes to banning vacation rentals from the area.

Both types of rental properties have their rules. B&Bs call to the fairness of these regulations. Especially for B&Bs and rentals in the same market/neighborhood.

How Does Your Vacation Rental Compare to a B&B?

Vacation rental properties offer more space, privacy, and cheaper rates than B&Bs. B&Bs usually include short-term rentals for weekend travelers. B&Bs focus on the community and social interactions of their property. Vacation rentals want their guests to experience the culture of living like a local, with space and accommodations.

When you see the B&B history or local competition, how does your vacation rental compare? Share your thoughts and comments below.

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