Many people get a certain twinkle in their eyes at the mere mention of bed-and-breakfasts. Ooh, let's take a road trip through New England and stay at bed-and-breakfasts! It'll be so cozy and romantic! This is a baffling and inexplicable notion. Bed-and-breakfasts are miserable and stupid.
Just in case any readers aren't familiar with the concept, these are travel lodgings—hotels, basically—that are just some old person's actual house. You sleep in one of this total stranger's bedrooms like a distant, unfamiliar, barely tolerated third-cousin-twice-removed-or-whatever in town for Uncle Harold's funeral. In the morning, the proprietor serves breakfast at the dining-room table, and you sit around it with all the other strangers who also spent the previous night too uncomfortable and self-conscious to have sex in the host's beds, and you pick at your weird breakfast and make impossibly awkward small talk and pretend to be even slightly interested in each other, even though nothing more substantial than overlapping travel schedules and a shared lapse in judgment have put you in the same place at the same time.
Despite the obvious terribleness of this arrangement—Hey, it's an awkward subset of hotel amenities, plus the unavoidable feeling that you're invading a stranger's private life if you avail yourself of any of them!—an entire L.L. Bean sweater-clad subculture orbits these bad establishments, as though they were desirable as actual travel destinations of their own, rather than as absolute bottom-rung lodging options for when you must schedule a last-minute trip to a faraway place where the only seedy main-drag motel recently burned to the ground and there are no bridges beneath which you can unfurl a sleeping bag. Try not to think your way too far into this. As reasons to feel pessimistic about the ultimate fate of humankind go, "Many people enjoy the bed-and-breakfast experience" might not quite measure up to "We have destroyed the environment" or "Russia straight up doesn't know where half its atomic bombs are" or "FSU Twitter," but if it's not the reason to stay in bed all day, sobbing intermittently, it's certainly a reason.
(Don't stay in bed all day at a B&B, though! The hosts will get super cranky about it, since the house doubles as their actual home when the guests are out antique shopping or whatever.)
Listen. Among the myriad virtues of a vacation, surely one of them is that a vacation liberates you from the routines and patterns of day-to-day life. You do not have to be at work by 8:30, and so you do not have to hoover down a sad bowl of cornflakes by 6:15, and you do not have to be out of bed, half-sentient in the dark, probing blindly and zombielike for the "off" button on the alarm clock, by 5:45, a mere four hours after you dozed off in front of bad television in a deeply sad attempt to wring as much damn peace and quiet out of the day as you possibly could—and so, you can be spontaneous. You can indulge your whims. You can emerge, pink and soft and atrophied but alive, from the thick concretion of rote, obligatory social mannerisms and cobbled-together coping mechanisms you wear day-in-day-out like the carapace of an overworked cubicle-bound crab, to discover anew what moves you, and to where, when you are not being shuffled around by the obligations of your sad and bottomlessly compromised life.
What good, then, is a "vacation" where you substitute the routines enforced upon you by your life responsibilities for the routines of some elderly weirdo whose home happens to have a couple of extra bedrooms in it? Where you willfully sign up and pay money to have a complete stranger tell you what time you will have to eat breakfast, and with whom, and what you will eat? On which you purchase the inescapable sensation of having transgressed a social boundary whenever you venture outside of your bedroom after, say, 9:30 at night?
That is not good, and that is not a vacation. That is a punishment. Do not go to bed-and-breakfasts.
Art by Sam Woolley