Travel pro tells all: worst B&B ever

Was it just a nightmare she had during a dark and sleepless night, or is this Halloween story about a REAL bed and breakfast? You decide. I’ll tell it just as this travel industry pro relayed it to me, around a campfire, while clutching a glass of wine.

Okay, it was a photo of a campfire. On Instagram. But the wine was real, a pinot noir.

Drawing of black cat with arched back
Her husband’s reaction to seeing “the coffin” in their bathroom at the B&B.

Panic set in, she told me — after hours on the interstate and winding mountain roads —when her husband walked into their ensuite bathroom and spied “the coffin.”

Just then, she veered, as good storytellers are wont to do, to assure me that the horrors she was about to describe could never happen at a #MichBnB member inn. “From what I’ve experienced, it is more than meeting quality assurance standards and passing inspections that make MBBA B&Bs the best,” she said. (Why choose a quality-assured B&B? Click here.)

Eager though I was for her to get on with the story, I hung on to every word, suddenly remembering my deadline for this page.

She continued: “I have memories of poached pears, warm scones, vegetables from the garden and all the fabulous breakfast dishes your members serve. Your innkeepers care about being among the best and want to outdo each other in the friendliest kind of way.”

I was lapping that up, of course, and she, evidently, her wine. I refilled her glass.

They contemplated a detour to the ER

Okay, it wasn’t really a coffin, she said, but resembled one. Shoehorned into a one-time closet was a deep, imposing whirlpool tub. Her husband arched his brow.

Illustration of a coffin
A real coffin probably would have been easier to get in and out of than this B&B’s tub, shoehorned into a closet.

She recalled the scene. “It was the only means of bathing. The walls went straight up on three sides. No grab bars, no non-slip mat. No tile either, just drywall. One was expected to maneuver over the lip of the tub on the narrow side. My husband, with his hip replacement, and I stood there contemplating a vacation-ending detour to the ER.”

She added, “Never in my life have I gone three days without showering.”

Trepidation mounted not long after the sun went down, as the innkeeper turned off all the lights in the common areas, turning what had seemed like a well-cared-for Victorian home into a creepy one. (As befits a Halloween story, I was thinking.)

Though unsettled by the pitch-blackness, our weary travelers wanted only a long night of sleep. But their delight with the feel of lovely bed linens evaporated when they climbed onto the mattress. “World’s worst bed,” proclaimed this travel industry pro. “It made loud and raucous noise getting in, getting out and turning over, When one of us turned over, the other woke up. That’s how much the bed rocked and shook and slammed into the headboard.”

An innkeeper who swore like a sailor

Did you complain, I asked. Have a little tete-a-tete with the innkeeper?

“I would not have known what to mention first,” she said.

Illustration of spooky house at night with coffin-shaped windows
Dark and weird by day, the house turned positively creepy at night.

For example: All drapes drawn, day and night, obscuring spectacular Smoky Mountains views.

Also: An innkeeper who swore like a sailor and plunked herself down at the breakfast table to regale guests with her life story. “We were a captive audience. She never asked a single question of any guest. However, we learned everything about her life, from diapers on.”

But was breakfast otherwise a delight?

“First morning: Eggs like you find in a cafeteria, just lumps, scrambled with no other ingredient. Plus exactly two pieces of bacon per person and a clump of grapes.”

“Second morning, my husband watched her make the casserole. A can of sliced mushrooms, drained. Ditto, a can of green chiles. Then a bag of pre-shredded hash browns, a bag of pre-shredded cheese, and a shrink-wrapped bag of cubed ham. She did crack the eggs.”

My storyteller digressed again. “I have had simple breakfasts at Michigan Bed and Breakfast Association inns, and I have had elaborate, artistic breakfasts at member bed and breakfasts. But every one of them has been many times better than at this B&B, where, inexplicably, at least 10 culinary awards and certificates adorned the walls.”

And where butter, jams and other condiments all were served in their original store containers, a marked contrast to the cloth napkins and fine bone china at each place.

But what about the cat?

Black cat with white whiskers and piercing yellow eyes
Gray cat, black cat — let’s not let the facts get in the way of a good Halloween story.

The wine was almost gone when I suddenly remembered: “What about the cat? You mentioned a cat. Black cat?” How perfect for a Halloween story, I thought.

“It was gray, a purr-er and a kisser, and would have been cute as heck had it not always been nosing through our luggage, strolling all over the kitchen counters, and drinking from the sink.”

“Okay, but ‘black cat with unblinking yellow eyes’ makes a better Halloween story,” I said. “Have some more wine. And never tell me how much of this tale was true.”


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