Kids, Pets and Bed & Breakfast Inns: Friends or Foes?

Kids, pets and MI M&BsAre vacationing pet owners who travel with their animal companions overlooking a “better way to stay” — as in Bed and Breakfast Inns? Do moms and dads traveling with their children simply assume they can enjoy a “better way to stay” only when it’s the two of them? The answer is probably “yes” in both cases. Are they wrong? A lot of the time. Since we’re talking about a “better way to stay,” isn’t it worth finding out before spending time along an expressway in a Super 8?

A. J. Boggio, innkeeper/owner of the White Rabbit Inn in Lakeside, located along the southern shore of Lake Michigan, notes that nearly 50 percent of US adult leisure travelers usually take their pets with them when they travel. So over the last decade, more and more lodging facilities from five-star hotels to budget motels are providing cats and dogs a “room with a view.”  What about Bed and Breakfast Inns?

A survey conducted by the California B&B Association found the vast majority of travelers think B&B’s are only for couples and strictly prohibit children and pets. It’s one of five commonly held misconceptions, according to the survey. So far, Lake to Lake-member innkeepers have debunked the myths that all B&B’s are fussily overdecorated with lace and antiques; that you have to share a bathroom with strangers; that you have to eat whatever is put in front of you at a table full of strangers; and that you have to abide by the innkeepers’ curfews. So is the perception that B&Bs don’t allow children and pets a myth — or reality?

At the White Rabbit Inn, A.J. offers two stand-alone cabins that can acommodate adult couples as well as their four-legged family members.  Built with low-maintenance knotty pine walls and floors, they feature private, outdoor hot tubs and cozy woodburning stoves — ideal for romantic getaways and purrr-fect for pet pampering too.

Cat Relaxing at White Rabbit Inn B&B, Lakeside MI
It's not all about dogs at White Rabbit Inn. This feline finds it an equally welcome respite from the grind.

“Our dog and cat guests can’t speak for themselves. But we always appreciate the positive, hand-written reviews left by their owners inside each cabin’s personal journal.”

We had a fun and relaxing time…. Best of all, our dog was completely relaxed and that’s the real seal of approval.

The cabin is absolutely perfect. We were thrilled we were able to bring our two boys, Bailey and Booda. They had a blast at the dog park and the sand dunes.

Like White Rabbit Inn, Park House Inn in the Lake Michigan resort village of Saugatuck also welcomes guests and their dogs in their onsite cottage. The pets’ people still get to enjoy breakfast in the inn proper.

What about inns that don’t have separate cottage rooms? Linda’s Lighthouse Inn, on the Lake Huron side of the state in Algonac, welcomes any-sized dogs to their “yard and country” B&B. Innkeeper Linda Yetsko says her location near St. John’s Marsh, a 3200-acre nature center — the largest in Southeast Michigan, offers canine vacationers miles of trails to stretch their legs.

“Our rooms with attached balconies overlooking the North Channel allow owners and pets to enjoy the scenery together. ”

Prairieside Suites Luxury B&B near Grand Rapids allows animals who are not averse to sleeping on the floor in their Southern Mansion suite. Innkeeper Cheri Antozak explains it’s the only guest room with a vinyl floor she can keep allergy free. There is a small extra fee to accommodate guests’ four-legged kids.

So what about kids — real kids on two legs?

Don and April Tubbs of Adrounie House B&B in Hastings, a short drive from Grand Rapids, don’t think B&Bs are just for couples. People, they say, come in various combinations.

Although their brochure discourages children under 12 because of their many antiques, they have had a number of “well behaved” children stay. In fact, on two occasions, a father and his three-year-old daughter stayed for nearly two months. When her Dad asked her, “How does this house make you feel?” her answer was, “Soft!”

Serendipity B&B in Saugatuck has several suites popular with families. After all, Saugatuck is a vacation town, and vacationing is a family affair, says Innkeeper David Langley.

He says the kids like what they find. One of the older kids staying in the Garden Suite left this comment:

To David and June: I thought that all the stuff in this place was awesome!, and when we came back into this place, it felt like it was the coolest place i’ve been to!

Family at a B&BParish House Inn is in the college town of Ypsilanti — home of Eastern Michigan University and right next door to University of Michigan. While they’ve always welcomed children, last fall Innkeeper Chris Mason re-did three rooms to make family accommodations even better.  She added an extra bed to two rooms so they now sleep three people comfortably. She removed a queen-sized bed and replaced it with two twin-sized beds that can be converted to a king.

“The result,” she says, “has helped us reach a wider market. Our guests have said they appreciate the changes. But we still love our couples celebrating special occasions and enjoy accommodating them”

Dewey Lake Manor in Brooklyn, near Jackson, was temporarily home to a seven month old and a two-year old just last week. Albion Heritage B&B in Albion, also near Jackson, accommodates children with a rollaway bed in the room with their parents. Some rooms have space for a porta-crib. White Swan Inn’s innkeeper is so pleased to welcome children — and pets, too — she’s written her own blog about it.

The State Street Inn in Harbor Beach on the Lake Huron shore welcomes children. Bill and Janice Duerr, innkeepers/owners, say they believe the bed and breakfast experience is for anyone looking for comfortable accommodations.

While welcoming four-legged pets in its Rose Cottage, Park House Inn also welcomes guests with children over six years old in its Family Loft Suite — the original attic in the historic inn. Today, it’s air conditioned, features two bedrooms and a full bath and includes a full breakfast daily. The Sheridan House in Fremont has no restrictions on children and many guests bring their kids with them.

Besides reserving a suite for guests with four-legged friends, Prairieside Suites offers a “Baby Package” that includes a Pack ‘n Play, Travel Swing, Changing Pad and a Baby Monitor. They also feature a family suite with an adjoining bedroom that offers a twin daybed and twin trundle beds. No other guest rooms are nearby, so everybody wins even if the baby cries.

But not every inn is pet friendly or child friendly. While they accept kids with conditions, when asked about the “no pets” rule, Adrounie House innkeepers say, “Youve got us there.

“We know the animals will end up on the beds. It’s a ‘no’ for us.”

About children, Mike Venturini of Munro House in Jonesville explains he has seven master bedrooms, each with only one bed.

“So only two people fit comfortably. A little person who will fit in the bed with mom and day is an option. But an older child, a teenager or a third adult just won’t work. It’s all about comfort.”

So what’s the lesson? Find a B&B in the right location and, when you ask about availability, ask about pets and/or kids as well. Obviously, you can’t assume that just because it’s a bed and breakfast inn, it won’t allow them. Our innkeepers have proven they are as flexible and diverse as any other type of commercial lodging. Plus, B&bs ARE the better way to stay.

You can click on the “amenities” link on our website to discover which of our 130-member inns do and don’t welcome children and pets, with and without conditions.