Your Guide to Alaska's Best Bed & Breakfasts

Breaking the Ice

by Rick Ashby

As a live-in host at a five room Bed and Breakfast for almost a year, I had some simply wonderful experiences with my guests.

On one occasion, my wife and I began chatting with three other couples in the common room (the fourth couple staying with us that night were in their early sixties and had disappeared into their room with a bottle of bourbon as soon as they arrived, coming down only once to get a bucket of ice.)

The rest of us told hilarious tales about everything from our pet dogs to college pranks to nuns at Catholic school. I laughed until my belly hurt.

Before we knew it, it was almost midnight. Everyone had forgotten to eat. So we ordered pizza and washed it down with several bottles of wine and called it a night.

Another time a honeymooning couple was staying with us. They were college students who obviously had a very limited budget. We hit it off wonderfully.

On their second day with us my wife invited them to have dinner with us. An exquisite cook, she prepared them a five course meal that would have put most posh restaurants to shame (I helped a little, mostly by staying out of the way.) They were obviously impressed and I was proud to have had a part in making their honeymoon memorable.

So now you want to know how you can make your stay at a B&B special.

Get to know your hosts. Meeting strangers is always a bit uncomfortable. Particularly when you show up on their doorstep with your arms full of luggage planning to spend the night in their home.

But it shouldn't be. Your hosts have chosen to open their homes to you. Being a host is more than a job, it's a lifestyle. Only people who love the lifestyle last as hosts more than a year. So remember that they want to serve you. You simply need to let them know what they can do for you. After all, every guest is unique.

What makes staying at a B&B so different from a hotel is the intimacy. If you want to be completely anonymous then maybe you would be better off at a hotel. But if you want to create a memorable experience I strongly recommend a B&B. They can be perfect for honeymoons, anniversaries or just a surprise getaway as well as a nice touch of home during a long vacation.

To help you get the ball rolling I've included a few subjects that are popular topics of discussion for hosts. By breaking the ice with something your hosts are familiar with, you can start a conversation that may not end until the pizza's gone and the wine bottle is empty. At the very least you will learn some valuable information about the area you are visiting.

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