Sex and the B&B
With the promise of roaring fireplaces, freshly baked muffins and four poster beds, the idea of spending Valentine's Day at a bed and breakfast sounds like the ultimate in romance. But when you're trying to reconnect with your loved one, the thought of a B&B's thin walls, creaky antique bed frames and judgmental guests eyeballing you the next morning over silver dollar-sized pancakes is enough to send you packing to the nearest no-tell motel. Don't be put off by the potential pitfalls. Simply follow these rules to avoid awkwardness.
Consider Victorian vs. Modern
At first thought, delicate antiques, a proliferation of lace and canopy beds may conjure up all things amore, but consider the fact that the older a B&B is, the higher the likelihood is of encountering creaky, delicate furniture. My husband and I found ourselves in a bed like this and after a night spent trying to quietly maneuver our bodies in the most non-offensive way possible, we were left longing for the shaky metal frame at home that we had put together ourselves from Pier 1 Imports.
Where is the Loo?
Unless you want to recreate the mistaken identity bathtub scene from "National Lampoon's European Vacation," check to see that the room you book has a private bathroom – even some of the most upscale B&Bs may offer a shared one down the hall. To us, the thought of tip-toeing around with our toothbrushes is less than enchanting.
Remember That Size Matters
On a recent trip to Pennsylvania, I chose a B&B with four rooms, each one based on the theme of a different season. The idea sounded quaint but the place was so tiny that it gave us the feeling of being a guest in a relative's house. Also be sure to ask questions about the furnishings – at 6'4" my husband finds nothing alluring about a claw foot tub that he has to fold himself into, while being on the petite side, a canopy bed raised three feet off the ground that presents me with a middle of the night gymnast hurdle is a definite mood-killer.
Pay Attention to Amenities
You don't have to pay extra for an overpriced "weekend of romance" package but certain perks will clue you into the fact that your B&B is no stranger to love. Whirlpools, in-room fireplaces and a no-kids policy are all good indicators your place caters to couples.
Know Thy Proprietors
When you're choosing a B&B it's not just the property you want to get the specs on. Are the owners friendly but unobtrusive? Unless you're looking for long chats over chamomile in the kitchen, this may be the way to go. Also do your research to get a sense of any restrictions or culture attitudes that could potentially clash with your sexy sensibilities. Stepping into a young couple's B&B with religious bric-a-brac on every available surface made us feel downright unholy.
Forget the 'Supposed To's
When you're at a B&B you're supposed to be unplugged, right? Not necessarily. We've stayed at places with everything from no television set to a tiny 10x10 black and white cube discretely covered in a cozy, and neither place was as much fun as having over 100 channels on demand. Staring deeply into each other's eyes is great for about a half hour, but for us, happiness is admitting that we are actually uncouth hooligans who would rather lie in bed eating snack treats while watching VH1's 100 Greatest Metal Hits.
And remember: Even with the most careful planning it's possible that your B&B may still not be the perfect fit. In that case, throw caution to the wind and enjoy yourselves.
And if that prude couple from the next room gives you a funny look over breakfast, simply smile and ask them to pass the syrup, secure in the knowledge that you will most likely never see them again.
Ronnie Koenig is based in Brooklyn.
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