When you live in a unique home that is sometimes open to the public, people always want to be invited in for a peak. You will get knocks on your door at all times of the day and night from people who want to come in and take a look around. These Lookie-Loos always have a good reason for asking...
"I used to work here, can I come in to see the changes you've made?"
"I have a friend of a friend who stayed here once and I have always wanted to see it for myself."
"I was shopping in town and the storekeeper told me that I absolutely must stop and see your place!"
"I was driving by and just couldn't restrain myself from knocking on your door."
"I have always wanted to own a place just like this! Can you show me around and let me pick your brain?"
"I might be staying in the area sometime and wanted to check out your accommodations."
I admit, before becoming a B&B owner, I have unexpectedly invited myself into more than one place. I had no idea how disruptive my unannounced drive-by drop-ins might have been as I was always greeted with smiles and hospitality. Now that the shoe is on the other foot, however, I realize how some of my tour guides might have been gritting their teeth behind their welcoming smile or Covid mask.
Our current B&B was once a well-renowned health spa. The owner had a reputation for prohibiting anyone who was not a paying guest from crossing the threshold of her door. Service people were directed to use the back entrance and, unless you had business that required you to enter the guest spaces, you never knew what was behind the curtain. The first Christmas Season that we were here we had not yet opened our guest rooms but we decided to host an open house over the weekend. In two days we had over 1,000 people walk through! Needless to say, that will never happen again. It was hard on me and the house!
We have had a few truly awkward moments. One evening we were sitting at the dining room table eating dinner with a guest when a woman walked through the unlocked front door, sat down at the table with us and chatted through the rest of the meal. We were all so stunned, no one had the wits to ask her to leave. Another time it was late, I was home alone and in my pajamas when I heard someone walking through the house. I nervously went to check and found a gentleman in a trench coat and fedora looking for a room to stay the night. Needless to say, I have gotten better at locking the front door in our safe little village.
In the beginning, when Curious George or Georgette stopped by, I would hand them a dust cloth from the pile near the door and, with a smile, tell them that the admission price was surface wiping. No one has ever taken me up on that. I have thought of putting a little sign by the door reading "House Tours by Appointment Only" or "Be Our Guest or Pay The Price For A Tour" or, at the very least, place a small "Donations Welcomed" box by the door. However, none of these sound hospitable and, personally, I think that the person who boldly knocks on your door is not the type of person who would read the fine print before entering. So instead, I stop what I am doing, try to act like their surprise visit is the best thing that could have happened to me today (and sometimes it is) and share the house if I can. Other times I have to apologize and tell people that because of house guests, Covid, a conflicting commitment or the obvious fact that I haven't had time to dress yet, I cannot show them through today but please come back another time.
When you choose to own a B&B, sooner or later you will come to the realization that you have traded your privacy and personal space for a place open to and for the public. When you really need to be alone, maybe you should book a room at a nice little B&B!