What a Hotel Addict Learned from a Bed & Breakfast Stay
I love using points and miles to earn free travel, so I try to stay in chain hotels that help me rack them up whenever possible. But I recently spent the night along the backroads of Washington state's Cascades, at the Run of the River Inn and Refuge. After my experience at this lovely bed and breakfast, I'm suddenly questioning why I even bother staying at chain hotels at all! Here's what a chronic hotel patron learned from his first B&B experience.
I arrived in Wenatchee, Washington's airport (which hilariously sports the airport code EAT), ready to journey into the trees for a much-needed weekend of relaxation. What I found was that Run of the River was more than just a bed and breakfast; I was continually surprised by the difference between my expectations of a traditional B&B, and what I experienced during my visit.
For one thing, Run of the River is a traditional lodge, with seven suites each sporting a different theme. Mine was called "The Great Northwest," and it looked directly out into the beautiful Icicle Creek, where I often found bears, deer, and other wildlife grazing during my stay.
The owners provide guests with a comfortable bed, heated floors during the winter, a rainfall shower, birdseed to stock your private balcony feeder, water bottles, and even personal mountain bikes to use during your stay. Oh, and a five-course breakfast awaits you at 9 a.m. every morning.
Nearby hiking trails abound, affording views like this:
Another plus? The amazing German-inspired town of Leavenworth, which is practically like being in Munich. The Christmastime atmosphere, I'm told, makes the holidays a peak season at the Inn. The city is so authoritarian about its German heritage that even the local Starbucks and Subway must adhere to the town's strict signage policy, which requires all businesses to write their store names in antiquated script on wooden signs.
So, am I giving up on hotel chains forever?
No. Chasing status for the benefits, like free breakfast, suite upgrades, and bonus points, can be fun, but sometimes it's important to slow down a bit and just enjoy the destination in front of you. No chain hotel could provide the same quality stay as Run of the River Inn could in this fantastic location.
Most frequent travelers have experienced some kind of existential moment -- à la Up in the Air -- when they've wondered "is the status really worth it?" I wondered that myself as I watched from my Run of the River balcony a squirrel loading up on birdseed intended for the mouths of birds. Alas, there aren't enough Run of the River Inns out there in the world, so our Hyatts and Hiltons must suffice. But this experience reminded me of the importance of sometimes taking the long way home. If you're too busy driving fast down the interstate, you might miss something really special in between.