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This American Road

Experience America this summer with Andrew Burmon

On the Supremacy of the Bed and Breakfast

I've been staying in a lot of hotels. Some nice ones, some not so nice, most owned or at least operated by a corporate parent. There's a anonymous familiarity about them all, which is comforting or unsettling, depending on my mood.

I've also crashed with some friends on this road trip, sleeping on a recliner in a living room in Detroit and an air mattress in an extra bedroom on Staten Island. That's fine-and a fine way to save some scratch.

But it took about three minutes at the Whistlewood Farm in Rhinebeck, New York for me to finally realize that the bed and breakfast is the world's greatest form of lodging. Please hold your arguments until I lay out mine!

  • Whistlewood Farm
  • Whistlewood Farm
  • Whistlewood Farm
  • Whistlewood Farm
  • Whistlewood Farm
  • Whistlewood Farm


The size: There are just seven rooms at Whistlewood, which means my host, Maggie, knew who I was the moment I set foot in her home. We'd already spoken on the phone and arrival was like meeting a new friend in person for the first time: a little awkward, but with hope for a fine future.

The freebies: I will not be nickel-and-dimed and I know it. The blueberry crumble pie? Free. The lemon-poppy seed cake? Free. Wireless internet? Free. Tea, coffee, pretty much whatever else? Free. "Make yourself at home" is the request? Oh, thanks, I will!

The farm: There are horses here, roaming their paddocks, playfully inquisitive about visitors. There are chickens running around. A woman in a big straw hat is pruning rose bushes. There are exactly zero "porters," "valets" or "customer service representatives."

The countryside: So this one doesn't go for every B&B but the birds here make a racket. It is hard to stress over an email thread from the office when there are birds chirping and flitting around the back yard, picking up caterpillars to feed their chicks.

The breakfast: Obviously the ultimate consideration. At Whistlewood, the spread is enormous. Eggs from the farm's own chickens, bacon, sausage, French toast, pancakes, fresh fruits salad, yogurt, English muffins, quick breads and muffins, juice and enough coffee to sate an Italian village. Would you like seconds? Go on, just help yourself.

In sum: The best service, everything's included and it's insanely relaxing: Sounds like the world's best lodging to me. Don't you think?

Are Bed and Breakfasts the World's Greatest Lodging?
Absolutely. I'd gladly pay a little more for the comfort and coziness of an all-inclusive B&B.106 (74.1%)
Hotels are better. The formal service makes up for the disadvantages of a big cookie-cutter building.16 (11.2%)
Apartment and home rentals are the way to go. Why pay for a room when you can get a whole house to yourself, often for the same price!21 (14.7%)

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