B&B Inn vs. Hotel – What Are The Differences?

Here at the Old Manse, we have brand new guests arriving at the Inn who have never stayed before – and also new guests that have never stayed at any Inn before!  Know how an Inn differs from a typical hotel stay can greatly put a new guest at ease upon arrival.

Presently there are about 200 Inns here on Cape Cod – and much fewer big hotel chains to choose from.  Many people choose the smaller Inns because of the higher prices at some of the resorts, but also because they seek a new experience and historic charm that comes with staying at a 200+ year old Inn here on the Cape.  Besides the number of Inns versus hotels, what are some of the other differences?  Below, we look at some of these differences as we know them to be here on the Cape and we will continue to update this blog when new ideas happen to come to mind.


Hotels are usually owned by a corporation that has a chain of hotels in many different locations.  Think Sheraton & Marriott.  Other hotels can be single resort that are individually owned but typically hire 100+ employees like other hotels.  Inns, on the other hand, have been known to be owned by a couple of even a single person who decided to change careers after being in the corporate world for a number of years.  Charlie and I did the same when we bought the Old Manse back in late 2013.  We own, operate, renovate & receive guests to the Old Manse ourselves for the most part.  Seasonal employees greatly assist us during the busy seasons on the Cape.

Number of Guest Rooms:

This may seem obvious but it is also very important.  Most hotels typically have many more guest rooms than your typical Inn here on the Cape.  From 50 to 100 to 200 guest rooms, a hotel is going to dwarf almost all Inns who mostly have between just 5 and 15 guest rooms.  Also of note is that your typical hotel guest room is going to look almost exactly like every other guest room at the hotel.  Given the historic nature of an Inn, especially on Cape Cod where the history goes back hundreds of years, each guest room will have its own special charm, decor, size & amount of space.  Remember, each Inn was originally built for/by just a single family!  Things like bathrooms & closets were added much later when indoor plumbing came to be & decor changes occurred, respectively.  Remember too that your guest room is mostly assigned by the hotel.  At the Old Manse & other Inns, you reserve the guest room that you want!

Check-In Times:

When travelling to stay at a hotel, most folks usually know they can check in at any time after 3:00P usually.  There is always someone at the reservation desk at all hours of the day & night.  You arrive when you want without thought of having to notify anyone about travel plans for the day, delays due to traffic or weather, etc.  At the Old Manse & other Inns, a specific arrival time is usually requested so that they owners know when to expect their guests.  Since Charlie and I do many of the activities at the Inn ourselves, including food shopping, assisting current & new guests with their needs, it is much more of a necessity to know when guests may be arriving so that we can actually be present at the Inn and not running around with those other activities.  Think of yourself as a guest of your family or friends with arrival time.


This topic varies widely across hotels & Inns!  With hotels, breakfast may be offered as part of the hotel stay where you typically help yourselves to the offerings they provide between certain hours.  Think Hampton.  Other hotels may have fully-staffed restaurants where you likely receive a menu & pay separately.  Given the name associated with most Inn – bed & breakfast – that meal is most likely included with your stay.  Here is where it gets tricky!  LOL  Since each Inn is individually owned, the type of breakfast varies widely with each innkeeper.  Some Inns only provide a continental-type offering that is set out each morning between certain times and you come & help yourselves.  Think yogurt, cold cereals, muffins.  Other Inns go the buffet route where the offerings are more plentiful with a hot dish almost always available.  Guests help themselves & sit where seating is provided given the individual Inn.  At the Old Manse, we go full throttle with breakfast!  We are fortunate enough to have the separate Old Chapel Dining Room and Knowles Dining Patio available for our guests.  Breakfast is much more of an experience!  At your reservation time, guests can be seated where they prefer with menu provided.  Each day of your stay is a different experience & a different menu.  With full service each morning by us & our staff, guests are provided a gourmet 2-course breakfast with unique offerings that you will never have at home – or possibly at any other Inn as well!  We hope you love each and every breakfast.  🙂

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