An alternative to hotels. Usually cheaper, friendlier, and often more comfortable. Definitely the way to travel in Scotland.

In the United States, bed and breakfasts are an alternative to hotels, but NOT an inexpensive one. In my experience, they cater to couples with disposable income looking for a weekend getaway. The decor is faux Victoriana, and trade magazines that feature B&Bs from across the U.S. show a remarkable amount of homogeneity in decoration: lace curtains, antiques and knick-knacks, wainscotting. Promotional copy touts "elegant simplicity," "a romantic getaway," and "gourmet breakfasts." B&Bs charge just as much as a hotel, if not more. Locations may be more scenic than hotels (they can be in quasi-residential neighborhoods instead of strictly commercial ones). Travellers on a shoestring budget backpacking their way across America would be advised to find a cheap motel, as hostels are few and far between.

I've never been to a New England bed and breakfast inn, but the image in my mind is a place where the dining room fireplace is toasty warm on a cold morning as you and your temporary darling sit face to face over a small table. An embroidered cloth covering the round table is a minor diamond pointing half of its arrows at the two of you. Hot biscuits lose steam as homemade butter eager for that hot short-lived crevice is scraped from an open porcelain dish. One small red rose with two provisional green leaves peeks above a white stem vase. The flowers are grown in a greenhouse next door where the grandparents still have a reason to get out of bed each day. The coffee is perfect and the eggs are fluffy and the bacon is crisp and the ham is sugar-cured, just like your love.

During the night, your then wine-tipsy breakfast partner has told you all the things she's done, and it only made you want her more. The afternoon before, she had the silly idea of holding the sheet on the bed up to the wide bay window to see if any previous stains from cavorting guests prior could be seen. It was just an empty white linen canvas with no traces of humanity as far as either of you could tell. Heaven help the chambermaid who tried the same experiment this morning while the two of you pour bee-nectar on another biscuit, casting glances from mirrored eyes to the snow still falling outside windows trimmed with white curtains. The curtains are adorned with a pattern of little girls in red skirts with white tops watering red, red roses with an equally red watering can.

It is possible to drift into another human being so deeply that self is lost for just a little while. A new fugitive unit can be forged in certain times and places. They don't last long and ego pushes its ugly way back in fairly quickly, as if to say, "Who do you think we are? Fool." But for those few hours this life does not have much of anything more significant to offer.

I'm guessing that this is the attraction of the bed and breakfast. Especially in old New England. In the winter.

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