‘UnB&Blievable’ – Extraordinary Facts About B&Bs

Properties sporting the B&B sign are a fixture in all UK tourist destinations, including out-of-the-way locations not served by chain hotels

A B&B stay is an opportunity to have the closest possible encounter with seaside, rural and urban life in Britain. B&Bs have been a key feature of British life for hundreds of years.

Check out these awesome B&B facts:

Industry Facts

  • European nationalities make up 52 per cent of international guests to British B&Bs, North Americans 31 per cent and rest of world 17 per cent.
  • The lower value of the pound since the announcement of the results of the referendum has led to a surge in B&B bookings in the UK. UK holidaymakers have opted to stay put and enjoy the British coastline and countryside and international travellers have been attracted by the relative affordability of British holidays thanks to the weaker pound.
  • The great British Long Weekend often includes a stay in a B&B. Analysis of booking data from more than 6,500 UK B&Bs found that Blackpool, London, Edinburgh, Torquay and York were the five most popular long weekend destinations.
  • Booking data found that Christmas Day bookings at B&Bs were up 112 per cent in 2017 versus 2016, reflecting perhaps the fact that whilst Christmas with the family is nice, we also like our own space.
  • The latest National B&B Index found that forward bookings at inland destinations were substantially up year on year. Whether this has been affected by climate or updated marketing campaigns in recent years is anybody’s guess. This developing trend sees increasing numbers of guest staying at inland B&B for walking holidays and even stays on working farms.
  • The weeks around the shift from Summer to Autumn in 2017 saw another surge of B&B bookings in the UK according to a recent survey, perhaps reflecting the increasing dependability of unseasonably warm weather that characterises that time of year in the UK. It could be the emergence of a new fifth season – a sort of Summer and Autumn hybrid called Sortumn.
  • Most unusual B&B Names include The Blazing Donkey, The Curious Cabinet, The Wind in the Willows, Shananagens Guest House, San Diego Guest House, The Manhattan Blackpool and Tall Storeys.

Ten B&Bs frequented by famous guests include:

  1. Britten House, Lowestoft – the birthplace of famous British composer Benjamin Britten.
  2. Cleve House, Melksham – the childhood home of Clive Bell, who later married Vanessa Stephen, sister of Virginia Woolf, all prominent members of the Bloomsbury Group.
  3. Plas Tan-Yr-Allt, Porthmadog – this B&B was visited by Percy Bysse Shelley between 1812 and 1813. He completed his poem Queen Mab there.
  4. The Leather Bottle, Gravesend – this B&B was frequented by Charles Dickens and it inspired him to feature it in The Pickwick Papers.
  5. 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’.
  6. Swan Inn, Fittleworth, West Sussex – the Swan was visited by several notables. John Constable, Edward Elgar and Rudyard Kipling stayed there. In the 19th century, artists had the option of painting on the walls in return for food and lodging. A sort of pre-Banksy idea.
  7. Darsham Old Hall, Darsham, Suffolk – this B&B was the birthplace in 1795 of Henry Rous, father of modern day horse-racing who wrote ‘The Laws and Practice of Horse Racing’. The book contained the rules of age-handicapping that are still used today.
  8. Burnhopeside Hall, Durham – this B&B is the former home of William Hedley, inventor of Puffing Billy.
  9. Glenridding House, Ullswater – this B&B was visited by Charles Darwin for a five week holiday in 1881. That’s a lot of fried breakfasts.
  10. Jug & Glass Inn, Matlock – this B&B is in a property built by Nightingale family and is reputed to have been Florence Nightingale’s first hospice.

Books are a staple on holiday – and many B&B owners find that guests deliberately or inadvertently leave books behind after their stay. A poll of 6,500 B&B owners has revealed that the well-thumbed books most likely to be left behind by guests over the last year. The list includes romantic and literary fiction, horror, thrillers, autobiographies and children’s books. The most prominent fiction books were Paula Hawkins’ ‘The Girl on the Train’, Dan Brown’s ‘The Da Vinci Code’, Stephen King’s ‘The Stand’ and EL James’ ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’. Children’s leave behinds were rare, but JK Rowling’s Harry Potter books took pole position. David Walliams’ books also featured highly.

A Harry Potter-themed B&B in JK Rowling’s home town of Edinburgh, The Canongate, has become popular with holidaymakers. The amazingly-detailed property (brick effect door pays homage to the entrance to Platform 9 ¾) has attracted national media attention for its impressive attention to detail.

B&B owners often receive unusual breakfast requests from guests. The most unusual reported by owners were:

  • “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”
  • “Smoked salmon and scrambled eggs for the dog”
  • “Five rashers of bacon in porridge” 
“Steak and Spaghetti” 
“Ribeye Steak and Chips”
  • “A Curry omelette”
  • “Eggs and Lea and Perrins Sauce”
  • “Dry Weetabix”
  • “Smoked Salmon and HP Sauce” 
“Scrambled egg on toast ‘with no egg’”
“Yoghurt with pepper”
“Weetabix spread with Marmite”
  • “Muesli with no milk”

Seven Unusual items left behind by guests include:

  • A guest’s wife
  • Frank Sinatra’s autograph
  • A false leg in the swimming pool
  • A human stool in a packed-lunch box
  • A turtle
  • $5,000 and two passports hidden in a draw
  • Fingerprints… that led to police solving a murder investigation

Unusual items brought by guests have included bagpipes, a fridge and a tent for the car and dog

Fifteen Most unusual requests from guests include:

  1. To provide a set of spare false teeth as the guest had forgotten his
  2. To give him permission to wear gold hot pants to breakfast
  3. To make the room noisy as it was too quiet and she couldn’t sleep. She was from New York
  4. To turn off all the Wi-Fi and broadband as the waves affect his thinking
  5. To fill a bathtub full of beer
  6. To organise a few German Shepherd dogs to carry their guests bags from the taxi to the apartment
  7. To send three battery operated vibrators back
  8. To tear the toilet paper into separate pieces
  9. To give them a room with a sea view. We don’t have a view of the sea
  10. To make the gulls quieten down
  11. To scatter their parents’ ashes for them
  12. To decorate the room in calming colours before their arrival
  13. To return her husband’s Viagra, as she left it under the bed and needed it
  14. To bring their own mattress
  15. To arrange rose petals in a crude shape on the bed while they were at dinner

Most Unusual Pet Guests included: a Norwegian Wood Cat, turtle, rabbit, hawk and a parrot.

Haunted B&Bs

The Manor House, Durham

The Manor is a 16th century listed building, with bundles of character and was featured on the television programme Britain’s Most Haunted. Surprisingly, guests return to Room 8, supposedly the most haunted room in the building.

The Brocket Arms, Hertfordshire

The Brocket Arms was originally the monastic quarters for the Norman church until the Reformation. Legend has it a priest was tried and hanged in the building and that it has been haunted by the surprisingly-affable-given-the-circumstances character ever since.

The Shoe Inn, Hampshire

The Shoe Inn has been a resting place for travellers for hundreds of years. The original thatched Inn is believed to date from 1420 and was extended around 1640 to become a posting station for the mail coaches. A tollgate was constructed across the road and the landlord was responsible for collecting the King’s tolls on the border between Hampshire and Wiltshire. The last New Forest highwayman was caught drinking in the Inn one night and publicly hanged the next morning. It is said that his ghost remains in the old thatched building. Happily for guests, the ghost resides in the owners’ accommodation. The only spirits guests will see are in the bar.

Dobbins Inn

Dobbins is said to be home to the ghost of Elizabeth Dobyn, who is now known as “Maud”. She wanders the hotel in search of her fallen lover. The owners can tell you many a tale about her spooking guests in the hotel.

Binniemyre Guest House in Galashiels

Binniemyre was built in 1862 for a local mill owner and was originally called Eildon View, as at that time no other houses had been built in the area and the house had uninterrupted views to the magnificent Eildon Hills. The house was built for the Morrison family, who were one of many wealthy mill owners in the area. They had a large family but were tinged with sadness. One daughter, Lucy, jilted before her forthcoming marriage, was so distraught that she took her own life in the house’s private chapel room. As this act was considered a crime in that era, Lucy was not allowed to be buried in the town, but her name can be seen on the family gravestone in Eastlands Cemetery in Galashiels. Lucy’s ghost is rumoured to visit Binniemyre. Both Carol (the owner), her mother-in-law and other guests have mentioned seeing a woman in a white dress walking around the house. One guest said that she sat next to him on the couch in his room.

Courtesy of eviivo.com

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‘UnB&Blievable’ – Extraordinary Facts About B&Bs