Privacy at Hotels

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Q: What’s with the lack of privacy at bed-and-breakfasts? I stayed at one recently and the owner got really huffy when I wouldn’t answer her prying questions about my family, job, and so on.

A: Think of the movies. Does any one embarking on a weekend bender or a forbidden tryst check into a B&B? Anonymity is the province of the nondescript motel room, not Grandma Maybelle’s Kozy Kottages.

Of course there are reasons to sign on for the B&B experience—historic architecture, romantic gardens, home-cooked meals, and the reassurance of a host who will answer questions and take an interest in your vacation.

At least that’s how B&B aficionados see it, and this may have been your host’s innocent intent when she questioned you. What was unprofessional was her responding to your desire for privacy with anything less than graciousness. Still, you might have softened your stonewalling with a smiling “Oh dear, I’m allergic to talking about my work [or kids or gallstones] when I’m on vacation.”

I wouldn’t give up on B&Bs entirely, but you may find you prefer midsize inns that offer obscurity alongside personality, or try the hotel megachains that provide the anonymity of a Swiss bank account. Pull the shade, draw the bath, order room service. Sometimes you want to go where nobody knows your name.

Have a travel etiquette query? Send it to Miss Malsy at otr@csaa.com.

This article was first published in March 2010. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.

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