There are some things that only other innkeepers will understand. Certain problems or idiosyncrasies we encounter that average people never even think of. For fun, I thought I’d share them with you.
Innkeepers never run out of toilet paper. Since guests only stay for a couple of nights, we have an almost endless supply of partially used rolls of toilet paper.
Innkeepers never run out of soap or shampoo. In fact, there is so much of it leftover that we can’t possibly use it all. So we donate the excess either to Freedom House or to the Clean the World organization which sends it to countries in Africa, where cleanliness is needed to help fight disease.
Innkeepers are always on call. Being an innkeeper is a lot like being an emergency room doctor. You have to be available any time, day or night. If guests are present, we expect them to alert us if there is anything wrong. This means that at 2 a.m. we may have to deal with a fire alarm that goes off because a guest forgot to open the flue to the fireplace or a doorbell because someone thought they were locked out.
Inns go through a tremendous amount of coffee. Between guests and what we sell to guests, we order about 50 pounds of coffee every two months. That’s a lot of beans for a household that technically only has two occupants. Well, two and a half if you count our precocious feline, but he doesn’t drink coffee. Jeff however makes up for him.
Innkeepers spend almost as much time on the computer as they do helping guests. Between reservations, emails, social networking, writing newspaper articles, blogging, recipe writing for cookbooks, etc., I spend probably four to five hours on the computer a day. I’d say next to my knife, blow torch, immersion blender, Vitamix and microplane, my computer is my most indispensable tool.
Innkeepers do an incredible amount of laundry in one week. On average, we do approximately 30 loads of laundry per week. Well by “WE,” I mean Jeff. He doesn’t let me in the laundry room because I am notorious for shrinking the queen sheets so that they fit on the twin bed and turning his tan colored shorts into lovely pink ones. But I digress. He also spends about 15 hours a week ironing pillow cases, napkins, placemats and tablecloths. Yes ladies, I said Jeff. I have him well trained.
Inns consume an incredible number of eggs. We average about eight to 10 dozen per week. And on really busy weeks, I have been known to go through 12 to 14 dozen. That’s 168 eggs! That being said, on that particular week I also went through 10 pounds of butter, but we were celebrating Julia Child’s 100th birthday, so I have an excuse.
Innkeepers also own large quantities of things that normal households do not — 12 fluffy pillows, 11 dozen napkins, 10 dozen steak knives, 9 dozen bath towels, 8 dozen teacups, 7 dozen place mats, 6 dozen sheets, 5 dozen golden chargers, 4 flat screen televisions, 3 fireplaces, 2 happy innkeepers, and one super B & B! It helps if you sing along, and in all actuality, you could probably add a zero to each of those.
Now, I jest, but you get the picture. Actually the biggest issue with all that stuff is storage. We have gotten awfully creative at hiding stuff, so it is out of the way and doesn’t clutter the place up. In fact, we could probably teach a class on how to organize stuff. Hint: Basements are useful for overflow, but only if they are dry and clean.
So as you can see, while a B & B is basically a home, it actually bridges the gap between home and hotel, and innkeepers have to come up with a lot of creative solutions to making the two jive. And that juggling is all part of the fun and challenge of running a B & B.
Monika Sudakov is the chef and innkeeper at the Chestnut Street Inn in Sheffield. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.