There are actually many differences between staying in a Bed & Breakfast (B&B) and a hotel.
Design: Blessings on State Bed & Breakfast is located in a restored vintage mansion in the heart of the historic district. We are not your typical hotel with an awning to drive under, a 24-hour front desk, and lines of rooms connected by thin walls. Our two guest suites are unique. Each has its own unique fireplace with an all-season insert. Like hotels, each suite has its own private bath. The main difference is that our guest suites also offer private sitting rooms. The Serenity Suite overlooks historic State Street and has a curved (think Victorian) wall in the sitting room. No cookie-cutter hotel rooms here! Wall décor differs between the suites and room décor changes with the seasons. Each suite has its own Christmas tree during the holidays!
Number of Guests Served: Hotels typically offer many rooms. One I frequently stayed in while in Chicago on business could accommodate more guests than the population in my home town growing up. (4000+ vs. 3,000.) B&B’s tend to be small inns, and, in our case, we have only two guest suites. Serenity will accommodate two guests and Tranquility is our “family suite” and may accommodate up to four. Blessings on State is much quieter and more intimate and personal than a hotel. There’s no line at check-in, the concierge is always available and you can always reach housekeeping and other assistance.
Target Market: Our guests are often the same guests that typically stay in hotels. We don’t get the larger room blocks for weddings, ball teams and bus tours, of course, but we host honeymooners, business travelers, small families, friends, couples, and individuals, young and… not as young!
Dreamy décor: Our Blessings on State Bed & Breakfast Guest rooms are uniquely decorated and each includes an attached sitting room, along with its own private bath. Since this is a home, the room size and design is different, and we decorate each room individually, so they’re never alike. The Serenity on State Suite has a high four-poster bed and the Tranquility Suite has a king-sized bed along with a twin-sized iron daybed in the sitting room. Just for the record, we have a sleigh bed in our innkeeper’s suite and Valerie has a white iron bed with an antique bed crown canopy.
Reservations: Most major hotels have their own online reservation service, connected to other hotels in the chain. We have our own web site with a direct link to our “real-time” reservation system, as well. We do not participate in many Online Travel Agencies (OTA’s) because the cost is too high. You’ll always get the best rates booking with us directly online or by phone.
Sleep comfort: We have high quality mattresses and we use high quality Comphy sheets and Peacock Alley covers on our beds. Blankets are lightweight and very comfortable. Our sheets are so comfortable that sometimes our guests buy them to take home!
Fireplace Ambiance: We have five fireplaces in our home. Each of our suites is outfitted with an electric fireplace insert. They’re set for all-season use, so light the fire and enjoy the ambiance!
Bath Amenities: Each suite has a full bath attached to the suite. The Tranquility bath offers a luxurious claw foot pedestal soaking tub and a marble step-in shower. We provide luxurious Turkish Towels. We offer Gihlcrist and Soames bath amenities, the same shampoos and soaps many high-end luxury hotels use.
Breakfast: Our “standard” breakfast is an indulgent gourmet breakfast served in courses in our dining room. It typically includes a bread course, a fruit course, a main course and a sweet course. (Think piping hot muffins, poached pears, a signature egg dish, a seasonal vegetable, and bacon, ham, or sausage.) We are committed to using locally-sourced meats and fruits and vegetables, including vegetables and herbs from our own garden, in season. We are happy to accommodate guest allergies, when notified in advance. If you prefer a lighter fare, we’re happy to accommodate when we know in advance.
Technology: Although it may feel like a step back in time, our B&B is equipped with modern conveniences like Wi-Fi, digital satellite television and a business center. We hope that you’ll be able to get away from it all while you’re here, but feel free to “check in” on Facebook and tag us as you post pictures of your stay!
Reviews and Recommendations: We all seek online reviews to boost both customer awareness and our reputation. We need all the reviews we can get, and encourage our visitors to share their experience here with others. As a reminder, we send a note with direct links to a couple of the most important sites, including TripAdvisor, after check-out.
Pets: Unlike some hotels, we do not allow pets. Although we love pets, we have family members and friends with pet allergies. For our comfort and the comfort of other guests, we do not allow pets in the Bed & Breakfast. Service animals are welcome, of course.
Swimming Pool: We do not provide a pool or hot tub. Instead, we have a lovely wrap around porch and gardens, in season, for relaxation. Our neighborhood is suited for long walks, jogs, or bike rides, if you’d prefer a work-out. Instead of watching the TV on the hotel treadmill, take a look at homes and architecture that dates back a hundred years and more!
Porch Sittin’: We hope that your stay with us is a relaxing get away from your normal world, if only for a few moments. Porch sittin’ at Blessings on State Bed & Breakfast is a great way to get away from it all! Just sit and visit, watch the birds and squirrels, read a book or look at the stars. We have flannel pillows and cozy throws for those who venture out in cold weather. We also have park benches throughout our gardens along with a glider, a picnic table, a table and chairs in the gazebo, and a porch swing in Valerie’s garden. You’ll have many places to just sit back and relax. A few chain hotels have caught on and you may find Adirondack chairs, rockers and picnic tables on their grounds, as well.
Dining: We do not have a restaurant on site as some hotels do, but we’re happy to make recommendations and reservations for you. We have great locally owned restaurants, including one located in a restored train depot from the early 1900’s. There are also several well-known chain restaurants in the Jacksonville area.
Snack Shop: While it’s always been common to find vending machines at hotels, many have now set up snack shops adjacent to the front desk. We offer a basket of complimentary snacks, sweet and salty, on the buffet just outside our guest suites. We also provide a Keurig coffee maker with a wide variety of coffees, teas, and cocoa. The guest refrigerator is stocked with bottled water and soft drinks. All complimentary, of course.
Gift Shop: While we do not officially have a gift shop, we offer books by local authors, our Deneen Pottery Mugs, coasters and ornaments, fluffy Turkish Towel robes, bath and body gift sets, and Comphy sheets for sale. Just ask!
Tipping: Tipping is optional here, just as it is in hotels. We have a terrific Housekeeper that comes in each day, and she’s happy to refresh your room during your stay. You are certainly not required (or expected) to leave a tip, but it’s a gracious way to honor good service, if you desire to do so.
Air Conditioners: We do not have individual air conditioners that you might find in hotel rooms. We use two high efficiency furnaces and air conditioners to keep Blessings on State Bed & Breakfast comfortable for our guests.
Hospitality: I believe that everyone who provides accommodations wants to provide hospitality, at one level or another. We are able to make high service standards, including gracious hospitality, our priority. We treat every guest as a VIP. Celebrating a birthday? Having a happy anniversary? Proposing? Let us know and we’ll make your stay even more memorable.