What is the difference between a Bed and Breakfast and an Inn?

Bed and Breakfasts and Inns are a popular alternative for people looking for a different experience than a traditional hotel with four walls and the same décor in every room. But what is the difference between an Inn and a B & B?  It really comes down to two things: the number of rooms and what meals are being served. Let’s look at Bed and Breakfasts and Inns separately and answer some frequently asked questions.

A B & B generally has 1 to 5 guest rooms depending on local, state or municipal by-laws and usually have guest common areas, such as a living and dining room and garden or backyard. Owners typically live on the propertyGuest Room 2 and prepare breakfast in the morning which is generally offered as part of the price, thus the name Bed and Breakfast. While some B&B’s offer a continental breakfast, most offer a delicious home cooked meal. At the Boatel we like to say that “Breakfast is part of the B & B name, so it’s got to be good”.

Boatel owner Diane and Ted GreeneB & B’s are often located in historic homes with antique furnishings, beautiful gardens or offer unique accommodations such as a boat or a century castle. A bed and breakfast typically offers only breakfast and guests have no cooking facilities.  Most guests go out for dinner however it is common for guests to bring take-out meals back to the Boatel and enjoy the ambiance of the boat. The rooms are usually decorated like your own home (or the way you want to decorate your home) because the goal is to make you feel at home in our home.

Inns are owner-operated or they hire an Innkeeper/Manager and often the Innkeeper or manager will also live at the property. They usually have more than 8 rooms and offer breakfast and dinner. Sometimes they offer dinner only to overnight guests and others have a dining room available as a restaurant. Some Inns have the facilities to host other events such as wedding and meetings

Both Inns and Bed and Breakfasts are run and insured as commercial properties. There is also a web site called AirB&B, but don’t be fooled by the name. AirB&B locations are simply someone renting an empty room or an apartment. They don’t offer the charming unique experience of a B & B and they are not insured as a commercial property.


Most B & B’s cater to people who want to unwind and enjoy some peace Guests having breakfast on the boatand quiet, so for that reason many B & B’s do not cater to young children. For safety reasons around the boat we have set our age limit at 8 years old. At the Boatel “well behaved children are always welcome”. Our two forward cabins are perfectly set up for families with the bedrooms across from one another with a shared bathroom between.


There are rarely two homes that are identical and the same applies for every B & B  and that is part of the reason that people choose them while travelling. Business travelers who are accustomed to staying alone in boring hotels often seek our B & B as an alternative while travelling on business in Toronto. Some female travelers have told us they feel safer staying in someone’s home. Others search the most unique places to stay in an area looking for a different lodging experience. What ever the reason you will have the opportunity of meeting people from around the world in a setting that is more intimate that a hotel dining room. However if you are really shy or don’t enjoy mingling with people you don’t know, then a Bed and Breakfast may not be the right fit for you, but on the other hand it may open your eyes to something wonderful.

a ground of friends in matching housecoatsI was once asked by a reporter “why would anyone want to stay on the Boatel?” to which I responded “have you ever walked by a marina and wondered who lives there?” And “have you ever wondered what it would be like to live on a boat?” to which he nodded. “That is the type of people who stay at the Boatel.”

For these return guests the Boatel is a great destination for a reunion with old friends.

Trip Advisor has 118 bed and breakfasts in Toronto for you to choose from for your next visit.

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About Diane Greene

Diane Greene stepped off the corporate treadmill in 2004 for pursue a life of traveling and adventure. 10 years later she is still operating Toronto's only Boat Bed and Breakfast and travelling with her husband on Boatel, their 65 foot trawler in the US and Bahamas during the winter. Diane has three wonderful children and 3 grandbabies. Diane loves photography, travel and scuba diving.

3 thoughts on “What is the difference between a Bed and Breakfast and an Inn?

  1. Each bed & breakfast- Inn is not only unique unto itself in regards to the property; the innkeepers are too! They enjoy welcoming guests from all over the world into their clean and safe respite. They give you the privacy you are looking for while offering personal attention to your needs. Furthermore, innkeepers are very familiar with the area in which they live in and beyond – helping you plan your day. Whether it be shopping, biking and hiking trails, museums and restaurants’ innkeepers are happy to make the best recommendations. For breakfast you will enjoy only the freshest local ingredients. Staying at a bed and breakfast – inn, or even a Boatel is truly “The Better Way to Stay!”

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