For our first trip to Alaska, I did most of my research using tourism brochures I ordered through the mail. We needed a place in Fairbanks for a few nights before and after a backcountry tour, someplace where we could safely leave our car. We found a B&B that was in a good location and was reasonably priced. On arrival, we learned that in Alaska, pretty much anybody could rent a room out of their house, provide a can of juice and a packaged muffin, and declare themselves a “Bed and Breakfast.” Our host was also a man who was, well, an interesting character. I will just leave it at that.
(Now to be fair, I have to mention that in Seward our B&B was the spare room in the basement of a home owned by an elderly couple. But in this case they were truly lovely people, and in the morning, we were ushered us to a table in a waterfront room where we were served a delicious homemade breakfast.)
Our Alaska experience also came to mind when we were driving through Provence this past spring. I was amazed at all the B&B signs along roads which led to accommodations which looked quite questionable. I wondered how many unsuspecting tourists, pleased at getting a “great deal” for a bed & breakfast in France, showed up only to find that their “quaint” or “charming” rental was not quite what they had pictured.
We arrived at the condo well after 10 pm, and looked for the key where the owner said she hid it. Nothing. We spent a frantic half hour searching with a flashlight, then the realization began to hit that we could be victims of a scam. How easy it would be for someone to advertise a non-existent rental, take your money, and then just disappear! It was bad enough worrying about where we were going to sleep for the night, but we also had to figure out what to do with 10 other people arriving on Christmas Eve!
I was finally able to reach the owner by phone, and fortunately she had a relative with a spare key who lived about a half hour away. It turns out that the condo had been put up for sale, and the key was being kept in the management office. We were supposed to go there to pick it up but that message had never been delivered.