A bed and breakfast, often referred to as a B&B, is a lodging typically operated out of a large single family residence where guests can be accommodated at night in private bedrooms (which may or may not be equipped with private baths) and where breakfast, sometimes Continental and sometimes the full English variety, is served in the morning.
In Ireland, most B&Bs serve a traditional Irish breakfast as a point of pride. The business may be operated either as a primary occupation or as a secondary source of income, and the staff often consists of the house's owner(s) and members of their family who live there.
It is possible for guests to stay more than one night, but in some cases they will be expected to be away from the house during the main part of the day. This arrangement however is generally found to be convenient, for many of the more popular B&Bs are located in beach and mountain areas, such as Hawaii and Colorado where daytime recreation and tourism activities are popular. One advantage of staying at a B&B is readier access to popular locations off the beaten path which may not be convenient to the city center.
Because most B&Bs are small, rarely with room for more than about 10-15 guests, it is advisable for anyone wanting to stay at a bed and breakfast to make reservations well in advance of their travel date. Consultation with a qualified travel agent knowledgeable in this type of accommodation is recommended; many B&Bs belong to associations, have a web presence, and are described in various books and travel guides.
The B&B arrangement is actually a very old one; before the 20th century, it was quite normal for country travelers to spend the night at a private house rather than an inn, and the custom persists in many parts of the world. However, this was strictly an informal arrangement constrained by acquaintance and social rank; a doctor might stay with a doctor or pharmacist, while a nobleman would only stay with the local gentry.
Modern B&Bs often consciously seek to recall earlier days; they are frequently established in attractive older houses that have been renovated and filled with antique furniture. In some cases an existing inn will relabel itself as a "B&B" to improve business.