Dorset

How to be a B&B world beater

Swallows Rest B&B - Brigstock, Northamptonshire Image copyright TripAdvisor
Image caption How about superking beds with Egyptian cotton sheets?

As a Victorian country house in a Dorset seaside village scoops the title of the best B&B in the world, BBC News looks at the key ingredients of a successful stay. Is it simply a question of a tasty breakfast and a comfy bed, or is there more to the art of being the B&B host with the most great reviews?

Image caption Clive and Lisa Orchard's B&B is the best in the world, according to TripAdvisor ratings

Personal touch

Clive and Lisa Orchard's Bindon Bottom B&B, in West Lulworth, Dorset, came out on top in the TripAdvisor rankings, with four other B&Bs in England making the top 10.

"The only thing we really aspire to is making sure our guests have a nice, relaxing stay," said Mr Orchard.

Sam Read of Swallows Rest, in Brigstock, Northamptonshire, which came fifth, said "small touches" like fresh flowers and tea and coffee in the rooms, or handmade cookies on arrival, were "essential" at her B&B.

World travel bloggers Two Monkeys Travel, also known as Kach and Jonathan Howe, said: "The greatest trick is making you believe that you're the first people to stay in that room."

The UK Blog Awards finalists added: "It's always the little things that you notice, both when they are there and when they're not - a bottle of water, a pair of slippers to wear on a cold stone floor, finding a different towel animal on your bed every day."

A TripAdvisor spokeswoman agreed: "A personalised experience with great customer service and hosts are what makes a stay most memorable."

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption A locally sourced, quality breakfast is among the key elements of a good B&B stay, according to owners and travel bloggers

Top-notch breakfast

"How guests start their day is important," said Mr Howe.

"If I have to go hunting for breakfast before I can start my day, then it's just not the same.

"No matter how small or simple, provide something they can begin the day with and put quality over quantity."

A continental breakfast, including homemade bread and freshly squeezed orange juice, is on the menu at Swallows Rest during the week, with a full English of pork sausages, dry cured back bacon, organic chestnut mushrooms, grilled vine tomatoes, baked beans and "next door's eggs cooked however you like them" at weekends.

"Offering a delicious breakfast with locally sourced, fresh ingredients that delights our guests is key," Mrs Read said.

Image copyright Two Monkeys Travel
Image caption World travel bloggers Jonathan and Kach Howe have stayed in lots of places during their four years of non-stop travel

Mod cons

"Getting the basics right and second-to-none service" feature highly on Mrs Read's checklist.

This includes controllable heating in the bedrooms, "great wifi", underfloor heating in the bathroom and "really comfy superking beds with Egyptian cotton sheets and blackout curtains for a really great night's sleep".

Two Monkeys Travel, who have been travelling the world "non-stop" for the past four years, also believe a good quality bed with "excellent mattress, voluminous pillows and a thick duvet" is at the heart of a great B&B.

TripAdvisor said bathrooms also featured highly on customer reviews, with "big baths and powerful showers" proving popular.

Mr Howe agreed: "It's the first thing we check", but added: "It doesn't have to be a marble palace".

Image copyright Ian Capper
Image caption Clive and Lisa Orchard put some of their success down to the beauty of their surroundings on Dorset's Jurassic Coast

Location, location, location

While Mr and Mrs Orchard are proud of the tastiness of their breakfasts and the comfort of their beds, they put some of their success down to the beauty of the surrounding area and nearby tourist attractions, including Lulworth Cove.

"We really love Dorset and it's not difficult to share that and tell guests how beautiful the county is," Mrs Orchard said.

Mrs Read regards it as a B&B host's duty to be able to act as an effective tourist information service.

She said that a lack of knowledge about the local area was one of the things that many guests rightly regarded as "unacceptable".

Image copyright Swallows Rest
Image caption Simple flourishes such as fresh flowers and tea and coffee in the rooms are likely to help win the hearts of guests

No-nos

Mrs Read said that, for her, signs of a poor B&B would include poor cleanliness, failing to deal with maintenance issues promptly and "not caring enough".

Among the "absolutely nots" on the checklist of Two Monkeys Travel are downstairs bars, noisy traffic, "evidence of previous guests" and "moody staff".

"People have bad days, that's just a fact of life," said Mr Howe.

"Unfortunately, when you work in service you have to leave it all at the door, because your guests will take it personally."

Image copyright Two Monkeys Travel
Image caption "An excellent mattress, voluminous pillows and a thick duvet" feature highly on Two Monkeys Travel's list

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