It may seem to outsiders that it’s great being the best B&B in Torquay, and in the top ten B&Bs in the World (on review website TripAdvisor – Travellers’ Choice Award 2018).
The problem comes when we want to go away ourselves. As the saying goes, if you’re paying your hard earned money, you want something better than you have at home. The trouble is – how do you get something better than you have at home when your home is a 5 star, multi-national award winning B&B?
You may have read that we’ve been shortlisted for another award – “Most Beautifully Presented B&B” by Eviivo (a hotel booking system). The awards are being held at Quaglino’s, in the heart of London’s Mayfair so we will need to stay over for a couple of nights. Hence our problem. We also have a limited budget.
I’m sure if we paid hundreds of pounds a night more than we charge then we could probably find more the type of place we’re after. However, we don’t have that kind of cash so we’ve got to search carefully.
The other thing we like to do when we go away is to research. We like to stay in places that will enthuse us and send us home with new ideas and ways we can improve our own product. Sometimes we come away from a stay away with nothing but a sense of achievement at how good we are compared to where we’ve just stayed. But it’s great when you find somewhere who really care about their guests and with some original ideas for making your stay as great as possible. It’s not about copying other people, it’s about seeing what other people are doing and wondering if you can adapt something along similar lines that would work for our B&B and our guest profile.
Can you believe we struggled to find anywhere extra special in London? There are a handful of boutique hotels but we’ve already stayed at them all. In the end we decided to stay at a brand new hotel (it isn’t actually built yet or accepting bookings so we’re hoping it will by October – completion should have been July). Although it's not a boutique place, it's quite tech-centric and also makes very good use of space.
As we were struggling in London, we decided to stay one night in Brighton and travel to London on the morning of the awards. We think we’re going to stay at one of the top performing B&Bs on TripAdvisor. Let's see why they're also getting such rave reviews.
I thought I’d list my top ten things that I’d love to find in any B&B that I stay in – here goes…
1. Fresh milk – no, those small pots of UHT are not acceptable – not only do I need around six per cup as I like my tea milky (that’s twelve when I make Julian a drink too) and you never get that many, but also it just doesn’t taste nice. I want to drink as much tea as I do at home and for it to taste the same.
2. Biscuits! – or something sweet I can eat. In an ideal world I’d love to see homemade biscuits in the room but I’m not that bothered as long as it’s not the really cheap cash & carry custard creams. Anything else will do fine. I’ll probably enjoy them with a coffee in an evening.
3. Welcome cake and drink. What’s more welcoming than arriving to a drink and some homemade cake? Yum! It’s a real treat and I’d pay £20 more per night if I knew we were getting this!
4. Plug sockets – the first thing most people do when unpacking is start charging their phones – after all, you’ve been in the car with satnav draining the battery, or on the train on your phone for the last few hours. I don’t want to have to start unplugging lamps behind the bed to get to a socket.
5. Decent TV – if we’re away, we often want to watch a film one evening or catch up with something we’ve missed or not had chance to watch at home yet. That means we either need a Smart TV, or Netflix, or at the very least a modern enough TV that we can plug in a USB connector to our own content we’ve brought with us. And have a TV! I’m not going to be impressed if you have a “we like to promote the art of conversation” policy!
6. Wifi – I can’t believe we still stay at places where the wifi is poor. Sometimes it’s faster on 3 or 4G but I don’t want to use all my data allowance. There’s no excuse for poor signal or speed any more.
7. Comfortable bed – Julian doesn’t usually sleep well when we go away and he often takes his own pillow to help. I don’t like feather pillows so am glad when they’re hypo-allergenic ones instead. A firm but comfy mattress (preferably with a decent mattress topper) and a thinner duvet always helps too. Our guests often like our beds and bedding so much they go and buy them for themselves!
8. High pressure shower – we replaced our whole water system when we refurbished. We have very little spare time and a shower for us is usually as quick as possible after a day of cleaning, just before guests are due to check in. Therefore it’s nice to be able to have a longer shower when we’re on holiday, preferably with some nice complimentary smellies (but we take our own Elemis ones as we’re often disappointed!) and for there to be more than a trickle of water.
9. Tasty breakfast – we may cook a lovely variety of award winning breakfast items on a daily basis, but we never eat any of it. Therefore it’s lovely to sit down to a great breakfast menu where you’re spoiled for choice. I’m a fan of muesli or granola so a good quality one (or even homemade like mine!) and a selection of goodies like fruit, seeds and nuts is always welcome to start with.
10. Alcohol – who doesn’t want a strong G&T before heading out to dinner? Or maybe a glass of wine in the sun, or even a quick nightcap? I recently wrote a blog on being licensed to sell alcohol but if they aren’t it just adds a bit more hassle. Do we have to go and buy something to have in the room? Do they supply glasses? Would I have liked some ice with it as it’s not chilled?
So there you have it, a quick run down of some of the things I’d ideally like in a B&B. Oh, and did I mention it needs to be within a few hours to travel to (not Yorkshire or the Lake District!) so we're not spending all day travelling? And being close walking distance to nice places to eat also helps!
If you can recommend somewhere you think we should stay then comment below.