It’s the inaugural National B&B Day and the small, independent accommodation providers are uniting to mark their vital role in the UK’s cultural life, ahead of what could be a bumper summer.
From Enid Blyton’s Famous Five novels to various historical and contemporary TV and film dramas, B&Bs have an equally iconic place in the nation’s cultural life.
The essence of the British B&B is a warm personalised welcome, a great breakfast cooked to order, the hosts’ invaluable local knowledge and the stories they are able to tell.
Extraordinary decor, quirky buildings and unexpected art objects complete the picture.
And in the last decade the sector, which collectively contributes £2 billion to the British economy, has experienced a true renaissance.
They have reinvented themselves, bringing new levels of comfort, service and cuisine that regularly beat larger establishments. TripAdvisor data shows that B&Bs score better than hotel chains.
And better online marketing platforms have enabled a sector previously dependent on text-heavy directories and word of mouth to compete for bookings on a national and international level.
The Brexit vote has also led to a surge in B&B bookings with the weaker Pound persuading more UK holidaymakers to stay put whilst attracting international travellers to Britain.
Data from more than 6,000 B&Bs compiled by eviivo.com points to a 10% increase in summer 2018 bookings versus 2017 – a testimony to the flourishing trade in bespoke accommodation.
To mark National B&B Day, eviivo.com, a leading supplier of technology to the B&B industry, is launching a cookbook of the UK’s finest B&B breakfasts, as judged by Michelin-starred chef Michel Roux Jr.
The recipes range from the classic fry up to the rather more exotic and include:
- Special fluffy eggs
- Smoked tofu kitchiri
- Mushrooms on toast, with garam masala and savoury crunchies
- Devilled lamb’s kidneys and porcini mushrooms on brioche with pea salad
- Duck egg, chorizo and guacamole on cornbread
- Sardines in Custard
- Knickerbocker breakfast glory
Proceeds will go to the Family Holiday Association, a charity that helps struggling families get a break.
The Weirdest Breakfast Requests
- “King prawn vindaloo and a boiled egg”
- “Chicken and salad with vegetables”
- “A plate of fried onions”
- “A bag of uncooked pasta and a jar of Lloyd Grossman tomato and garlic sauce” (which the guest then cooked inside the kettle in his room)
- “Corn Flakes in Carling lager”
- “Five rashers of bacon in porridge”
- “Ribeye steak and chips”
- “A curry omelette”
- “Eggs and Lea and Perrins Sauce”
- “Dry Weetabix”
- “Yoghurt with pepper”
- “Weetabix spread with Marmite”
- “Smoked salmon and scrambled eggs… for the dog”
- To provide a set of spare false teeth as the guest had forgotten theirs.
- To give the guest permission to wear gold hot pants to breakfast.
- To make the room noisy as it was so quiet the guest couldn’t sleep (she was from New York).
- To turn off all the wifi and broadband as the waves were affecting their thinking.
- To fill a bathtub full of beer.
- To organise a few German Shepherd dogs to carry the guests’ bags from the taxi to the apartment.
- To send three battery-operated vibrators back.
- To tear the toilet paper into separate pieces.
- To make the gulls quieten down.
- To decorate the room in calming colours before their arrival.
- To bring their own mattress.
- To arrange rose petals in a crude shape on the bed.
Most unusual B&B Names
- The Blazing Donkey
- The Curious Cabinet
- The Wind in the Willows
- Shananagens Guest House
- San Diego Guest House
- The Manhattan Blackpool
- Tall Storeys
B&Bs that were home to the famous
- Britten House, Lowestoft – The birthplace of famous British composer Benjamin Britten.
- Plas Tan-Yr-Allt, Porthmadog – Visited by Percy Bysse Shelley between 1812 and 1813. He completed his poem Queen Mab there.
- The Leather Bottle, Gravesend – Frequented by Charles Dickens and it inspired him to feature it in The Pickwick Papers.
- The Old Lock Up, Wirksworth – This B&B was visited by DH Lawrence and his wife during WWI. At the time it was a police station, so it served another type of ‘guest’. Lawrence’s wife, a German national, had to report every week as an ‘alien’.
- Swan Inn, Fittleworth, West Sussex – Visited by several notables including John Constable, Edward Elgar and Rudyard Kipling.
- Darsham Old Hall, Darsham, Suffolk – The birthplace of Henry Rous, father of modern day horse-racing who wrote the rules of age-handicapping that are still used today.
- Glenridding House, Ullswater – Visited by Charles Darwin for a five-week holiday in 1881. That’s a lot of fried breakfasts!
(source: eviivo poll, 2017)
Books are a staple on holiday – and many B&B owners find that guests deliberately or inadvertently leave books behind after their stay. Last year’s most popular authors were:
- Dan Brown – The Da Vinci Code
- E L James – Fifty Shades of Grey
- Les Dennis – autobiography
- Robert Ludlum – the Bourne series
- Paula Hawkins – The Girl on the Train
- Nigel Farage – autobiography
- Donald Trump – autobiography
- Wayne Rooney – autobiography
- JK Rowling – Harry Potter
Unusual items left behind by guests
- Frank Sinatra’s autograph
- A false leg in the swimming pool
- A human stool in a lunch box
- A turtle
- $5,000 and two passports hidden in a draw
- A guest’s wife!
The Long Weekend League Table
- 1. Blackpool
- 2. London
- 3. Edinburgh
- 4. Torquay
- 5. York
- 6. Scarborough
- 7. Weymouth
- 8. Glasgow
- 9. Llandudno
- 10. Great Yarmouth
- 11. Shanklin
- 12. Newquay
- 13. Norwich
- 14. Bournemouth
- 15. Keswick
- 16. Paignton
- 17. Whitby
- 18. Canterbury
- 19. Brighton
- 20. Windermere
- United States 29.26%
- Germany 10.66%
- France 7.43%
- Australia 5.49%
- Netherlands 5.23%
- Italy 4.94%
- Spain 4.69%
- Ireland 4.11%
- Belgium 2.61%
- China 2.72%
- Switzerland 2.15%
- Canada 1.85%
- Other Europe 9.78%
- Rest of World 9.08%