With no more than five rooms, bed and breakfast hotels are like small hotels and can be found all over the UK, often at cheap prices...
And thanks to the internet, we can compare them easily with bigger hotel chains all in one search.
B&Bs, often called guesthouses or inns, have something different to offer in the main. The great thing about B&Bs is that they offer a more personal alternative to a hotel, with a more laidback atmosphere. As well as the traditional seaside B&Bs, you'll find cosy countryside retreats throughout the UK and nearly every city, town and village has a choice of them, with more and more establishments aiming at the luxury end of the market.
A stay in a good B&B should be like a home away from home. When you contact a B&B you can probably tell if you've made a good choice by the sort of welcome you get. A good one should be similar to staying over at a friend's place - you'll get breakfast and sometimes even a packed lunch (usually at an additional charge). You may even have drying facilities on offer if your B&B is on a walking trail so your clothes are warm and ready to wear again the next day. There will usually be parking too.
If you are looking for something a little more personal than a faceless, bland chain hotel, you’ll certainly find it at a bed and breakfast...
Although the term B&B is traditionally associated with small, family-run accommodation by the sea, it can be anything from an upscale estate of beautifully restored cottages to a room and morning coffee in a rundown farmhouse.
Recently, the trend of 'luxury' B&Bs has been on the increase, with high quality bed linen, posh toiletries and state of the art technology in the rooms; some even offer the option of an evening meal. Remember that staying in a B&B is quite different to a hotel, with a more tailored and flexible service, and as they're often run by the owner of the home, check the policy for locking main doors at night - if you think you're going to be late back, let them know so they can arrange a key.
B&Bs often charge per person rather than per room so they can work out cheaper than hotels if you're travelling on your own. However, it could also mean that you're put in a little box room in the attic with no room to swing a cat, so ring ahead before you book so you know what you're in for.
As most B&Bs are run by the owners themselves, they'll know a lot about the local area. To find the best pubs, restaurants, shops, or places to visit or walk, the owners are often the best people to ask. They may even have an arrangement with the local pub and reserve a table for you.
Call the B&B and let them know if you have any special needs or dietary requirements and check exactly what you'll be paying for. Most importantly, check if credit or debit cards are accepted - if you're stuck out in the hills with no cash points the last thing you want to be doing is the washing up to pay your bill.
Many B&Bs have set check-in times; however, being smaller establishments they can often be flexible to help you out - but don’t expect 24-hour check-in or room service. Find out what the policy is before you set off. You don't want to get on the wrong side of the landlady as soon as you arrive. Also, don't forget to ask what time breakfast is served to ensure you don't miss out.
You won’t find star ratings with B&Bs. Instead, you’ll find a variety of award schemes to help guide you to somewhere good...
In the UK there is an award system for properties that have signed up to the Quality Assessment Scheme. The ones to look out for are the Gold and Silver Awards given out by the tourist boards for England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. These awards not only reward the facilities and standards of the B&B, but also, and more importantly, the quality of the welcome and the service you receive when staying there. There’s even a breakfast award if the first meal of the day is something that motivates your choice. A Gold Award will mean the B&B not only excels in all areas of service, but also shows that they are committed to providing excellent hospitality.
Of course, you can also read reviews. Many post reviews to popular sites such as TripAdvisor.
You’ll find B&Bs all over the UK and also increasingly abroad. However, there are some classic places us Brits love to check-in to a bed and breakfast...
Seaside towns are famed for their B&Bs. Brighton, Blackpool and Bournemouth are popular seaside resorts for many and the classic B&B landladies built up reputations over the years to be fearful of. However, these days things are a lot more laidback and many establishments have been seriously updated, offering a high level of service in a bid to get those gold and silver awards from the tourist board and great reviews from their customers. Other popular seaside destinations are Torquay, Llandudno, Weston-super-Mare, Whitby, Great Yarmouth and Tenby.
You’ll also find B&Bs very popular in places of outstanding natural beauty. The Lake District is peppered with bed and breakfasts, as is Devon and Cornwall, the Cotswolds in villages like Burford, the South Downs, Yorkshire Dales, Scottish Highlands and the Peak District.
And the UK’s tourist towns and cities such as Chester, Bath, Harrogate, Stratford upon Avon and Edinburgh are teeming with B&B choice.
Finally, if you fancy something a little more personal than a hotel in one of our big cities, try searching for something smaller on your next trip. Cardiff, Newcastle, Leeds, Liverpool, Southampton, Manchester, Birmingham and even London can all offer the charms of well-run bed and breakfast accommodation.
Outside the UK, B&Bs are growing in popularity with travellers in countries such as Australia, Canada and South Africa, to name a few.