I don't know if I can remember all of your questions but here goes...
There are several good guides. I use FFXIV on Wiki for most things. The problem with the guides is that the game is being rewritten as we talk. The guides were mostly written in 2010 when many details were very different. Some things in the guides don't work. Still, they will get you going.
Crafting is done anywhere except in your "hotel" room. The rooms are still in development and don't do much. Maybe by Christmas the rooms will provide the same kind of support in FFXI. You go to the Market Ward in any city, or go to the many market stands in the cities and check out what they offer. Several vendors will offer various tools. You need a pickax to mine, a needle to weave, and a hatchet to log. Secondary skills use a sledgehammer to mine, spinning wheel to weave, and scythe to harvest. The weathered variety is cheapest and works fine. Recipes for crafting are on the internet: Just type in (I use Google search) the item you want to use and you will find various recipes for which that item is used. When you equip a tool, your class changes and if you can craft with that tool in your main hand you will see a message in your menu which you can click on to start crafting.
Follow the instructions the game gives you of things you need to do. Open your menu and open Journal to see tasks you need to do. If you do the starting tasks, the game leads you through a bunch of help menus as you do new things. The in game help is pretty good.
Now, what is different, as compared to FFXI... If you played FFXI a lot you had time to get used to the strange way the cities were laid out and how it was sometimes hard to find quest givers... and remember who gave you the quest in the first place. The Journal makes keeping track of what you are doing easier. Mobs in FFXI were more chaotic than what I have seen in FFXIV... Levelling up is more straight forward and changing classes is easy, but then most people rarely changed classes in FFXI. FFXIV is bigger, prettier, smoother... even with some minor problems that Square-Enix is fixing. Events in FFXIV are similar in some ways to WOW, but I got the feeling in WOW that everything was too easy. The whole item thing is different, with hundreds of items and hundreds of weapons and clothing bits. The crystal, materia, catalyst system is new. The possibility that you can build your own hold is supposed to be out this year. The monsters all have personalities. There is an ambiance in FFXIV that is very nice. Much more developed than XI.
Hope this answers your questions. Good gaming... David