This morning I descended the oak staircase to the parlour and breakfast room at my Beacon Hill (Victoria, British Columbia) B&B. There was no sign of royalty or even Sybil, Basil, Polly or Manuel but the whole place looked like what you’d get if Fawlty Towers and Buckingham Palace hooked up and spawned a B&B.
Think wingback chairs, overstuffed sofas, brass lamps, lace doilies on the Hepplewhite sideboard, framed botanical prints, brocade curtains with tiebacks and tassels. Lots of tassels. Baroque music played softly in the background and the scent of fresh cut hydrangeas wafted through the air.
I took a table by the leaded glass window with a nice view of nearby Craigdaroch Castle. Soon the other 10 guests joined me, all dressed for a day of sightseeing, save for the house-issued slippers we all wore to protect the Persian carpets. It was “a little on the chilly side” as one lady remarked so most guests wore their matching his and hers cashmere sweaters tied over their shoulders.
Breakfast consisted of fresh squeezed orange juice, croissants, homemade jams, Island honey, bagels and cream cheese, assorted cereals, yogurt, cold cuts and scrambled eggs.
The extremely congenial host asked several times if everything was okay. Everyone replied “lovely, perfectly lovely” or something similar.
The other guests spoke in hushed tones as they discussed their plans for the day. A mid-morning trip to Butchart Gardens followed by high tea at the Empress Hotel seemed to be the popular itinerary. “On the way back we can pick up something for the grandchildren,” murmured Daphne from Boston.
Lovely, perfectly lovely, I thought.
But was it?
To be honest, this just isn’t my style. Give me a tent at Burning Man, a hard berth on a 2nd class sleeper train rumbling through Rajasthan, or the chaos of Bangkok or Delhi or Kathmandu. I’ll take a cheap backpackers hostel in some overcrowded third world city over a pricey B&B in a leafy enclave any day.
Breakfast (with or without beer) at a communal table in a cavernous dining hall full of exuberant 25-year-olds is waaay more interesting than tables for two with Vivaldi in the background.
You see I’ve come to believe that “lovely, perfectly lovely” is all in the eye of the beholder.