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What Nobody Ever Tells You About Innkeeping

Before we knew it, the winter was behind us and we found ourselves in the throws of a busy summer. We were into a routine – James cooked the breakfasts and I served them each morning. We waited until all the guests had eaten and the dishes were done until we had our own breakfast. Then we stripped and stocked the rooms for the housekeeper, booked reservations, answered emails, paid the bills, dealt with maintenance, worked in the gardens, checked guests in, and baked cookies…all before lunch. We expected all of this. But here are a few things no one ever told us:

– Sheets on hotel beds don’t just come out of the dryer looking crisp and wrinkle free. Someone has to iron those. That someone turned out to be me. Every day, I’d tackle a pile of sheets – at first I pressed the entire set – have you ever tried to iron a fitted sheet? I quickly wised up and realized that ironing the pillow cases and the first quarter or so of the flat sheet was sufficient. We went through a lot of starch.

– People actually walk into your personal living space without knocking. We immediate invested in a “Private” sign. It didn’t help.

– It is almost impossible to eat a meal without interruption. We would sit down to eat dinner and inevitably the phone or doorbell would ring or a smoke detector would go off or a pipe would burst or something.

– There’s no crying in innkeeping. I’ve always been a bit of an oversensitive type – you know, tearing up during hallmark commercials, rescuing stray animals, that kind of thing. That all changed quickly when I became an innkeeper. I’ve allowed a guest to make me cry exactly once and it was a pitiful and humiliating experience I don’t care to repeat. Innkeepers have to have a backbone, or get one fast.

– Speaking of backbones, housekeepers are the backbone of any bed and breakfast, motel, hotel, resort, etc. There is absolutely no way to run a successful hospitality operation without relying on a housekeeping staff. When we bought the Carriage House, we banked on doing a lot of the cleaning ourselves. Wrong. Our housekeeper became our best friend and money very well spent.

– You can’t please everyone. Believe me, I’ve tried!

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