Friday, October 10, 2014

How to Ruin a Charming B&B

I have admitted to having had what amounts to a "bad experience" with a bed and breakfast inn, but there used to be a super funky, cozy, whimsical B&B that we loved on the pacific coast.  (Notice I say "used to").  It had theme rooms, and nothing was too quirky or offbeat for this place.  We loved it. We used to go when we were first married, then about twice a year with our kids when they were little, and it was magic.

Or this.    See? Magic.
If I had to give it a decor style, it would have been Whimsical Shabby Beach Bohemian.

We had a chance to visit it again after a 10-year gap of not going because.. LIFE. Unfortunately, I booked it over the phone, without going online or seeing any photos (after 10 years).  I missed my cue when I asked for our favorite room (and described its old theme), and the gentleman on the phone said cheerfully, "Oh, it's all been redone!  You probably won't even recognize it."

Hello.  UNDERstatement.

Long (long) story short:  They ruined it.

It bothered me so much that I actually wrote about a 2,000-word essay, recreating every corner of the place from memory, so we'd have a written record of what it once was.  Then I figured, that's too much information for a blog post.  Instead I composed a short list of How to Ruin a B&B.  I hope it's short.  It might be short.  OK, it's probably not going to be short.  But it won't might not be 2,000 words, you guys.     You're welcome.

Here goes:

1.  Empty every single room of every single thing but the carpet.  Have a yard sale and/or bonfire to get rid of every bit of furniture, artwork, whimsical linens, pillows, and potted plants.  Used stuffed animals for firestarters.  Scatter the ashes over the beach.

2.  Paint every surface of the building a comforting, boring, hotel-approved taupe-y beige color.  Add ivory trim for interest.  We wouldn't want any of the rooms to seem...different from each other.  Theme rooms are so 80's.

3.  Replace various daybeds and/or brass/iron/carved beam beds with all exactly matching dark hardwood sleigh beds. Any tables should be no-nonsense squares in the same wood finish.

4.  Replace all comfy overstuffed printed-fabric chairs, couches, and wicker seats with floral cushions with Pottery Barn dark leather club chairs.  Not too many, though.  Hotels are for sleeping, not reading books by a window surrounded with plants and happy assorted pillows.

5.  Replace all whimsical mismatched bathrobes with -- nothing.  You want a robe? Bring your own.

6.  Replace armoirs full of extra blankets, pillows, games and books with -- nothing.  Hallways are for elevators.  If you didn't bring a book, then go sit in the corner.  Of your room.  In that leather chair without a foot rest.

7.  Replace all whimsical printed curtains with white miniblinds.  Prints are out.

8.  Replace beachy watercolors and random sun/moon/stars plaques and quirky yard-sale art with exactly matching black contemporary frames, two per room.  Each should hold a white-matted monochrome photo of a single shell or starfish.  Nothing else.  You're here to sleep, not daydream.

9.  Replace magical shelf of random cups (especially that cup shaped like a panda) with solid white mugs.  Turn self-serve coffee bar full of assorted teas and cocoas into a drink station for staff only.  We will bring you your hot cocoa, but don't think we're going to be all, "Did you want a refill?"

10.  Replace old B&B breakfast menu with a full-service restaurant, with friendly but very slow service.  Serve one-egg omelettes and forget to refill waters.  All mix-and-match whimsical table linens and plates should now be solid white only. Take old beach-themed napkin rings to Goodwill.

11.  Play strictly Sinatra-era cocktail lounge music for background.  No one at the beach wants to hear music from any decade since then.

12.  Replace all previous mismatched colorful towels and bedding with strictly tan.  White sheets, tan...everything else.  All that random-color stuff went out with Cyndi Lauper.  Beaches are colorless; hotels should be, too.  Add one navy blue throw pillow, just for fun.  It is the OCEAN.

13.  Remove any old statuary, hammocks or mosaic-covered tiny seaside fireplaces from patio area and replace with matching teak breakfast tables, as many as possible.  We're a restaurant, not an ocean-front patio for sipping coffee at bistro tables with mismatched chairs.

14.  Chuck various potted plants and replace with -- nothing.  If you want plants, go for a walk.

15.  After making sure all traces of charm have been wiped completely away, leave old 'theme' name plates on the rooms' doors, because we wouldn't want people to think things have changed.

*face palm*     *shakes head*

P.S.  The beach was, in fact, lovely, and the stay was nice.  I was just a bit put off by the "progress" from a 70s/80s whimsy-themed B&B to...just another hotel.

The view is the only thing that hasn't changed.

Do you have a place you remember that is so magical and familiar that it's like part of the fabric of your past?  Have you ever revisited a place like that, only to find it completely destroyed by an "update"?

photos courtesy of Google, as usual


  1. could they not see that was a mistake? Although the view looks amazing.

    1. It was a shock. It was like a sort of grief, saying goodbye to how it used to be and finding that this lovely old place where we have so many great memories with our kids is now...just another beige hotel. You can't believe how funky and fun it used to be.

      That was our last stay. :(

  2. They tore down the resort that we used to visit as a family EVERY SUMMER OF MY ENTIRE CHILDHOOD! So that I cannot relive that experience with my children....all in the name of progress. I'm pretty sure it's a trailer park now. :(

    1. Right? Thanks a LOT, progress. This place struck me the same way. After staying there, I cried a little bit, remembering the way it was when we were there with our kids when they were little. I did save my written essay, where I recreated every corner of it visually from memory, so we won't forget.

      *crumply smile*

      *reaches for tissue*