This summer, hubby and I decided to go on a traditional British Seaside holiday, rather then going abroad. Neither of us had stayed in a B&B for about 5 years, so this is the way we decided to go, with trying to keep costs down and my reluctance to camp it seemed the best way forward!
Months ago, before we booked the couple of places we wanted to stay, it got me thinking about how you go about finding the perfect B&B for your needs.
The UK tourism industry is one of the largest in the world and the B&B sector turns over £2bn per year. The best B&Bs provide everything tourists look for: small-scale, high-quality accommodation with one-on-one personal service, but what distinguishes one from another? And how do you choose?
In St Ive’s and Padstow, the 2 places we had chosen to stay, the lists of places were endless! Where to start? Now, I’m not a fan of trip advisor in general, especially for restaurants and hotels. Booking somewhere and then reading a crap review is not a great way to get excited about an upcoming holiday. But for once, I succumbed (just to the lists mind…not the reviews!) Looking at endless pages on Google was not getting me anywhere. So, our plan: bring up a list of B&B’s in each place (104 in St Ives, 52 in Padstow) work our way down the list checking location (needed to be walking distance to town centre and beach) and room prices ( budget of £100/night). When one meets both criteria – check availability and book. No ummming and ahhhing over whether we’ve booked the right one or looking at endless pictures. Well working our way down the St Ives list we didn’t have to go far. Ranked at #2 was Little Leaf Guest House. It took slightly longer to find our home for the other 4 nights – Padstow seemingly gets booked up quicker than St Ives, but after checking out 9 others, ranked #10 was Pendeen House. Simple – half an hour in front of the computer and we were done, trip advisor shut down and no reviews read (although had I succumbed to reading a few, I really would have found nothing but praise for both).
So as the few months went by, and the dreary weather continued,although excited about the great places we had booked to eat (have a look at some of my reviews of these), I found myself wishing we had booked that holiday in the sun after all. Someone must have sensed my distaste at the prospect of a British hol in the rain, because magically, the day before we were due to go, the weather turned and thus began the 2013 heatwave.
So onto our accomodation. First stop St Ives and Little Leaf Guest House.
We arrived on the early on the afternoon of what would be Andy Murrays fantastic Wimbledon victory eager to find somewhere in St Ives showing the match. This was quickly aided by our hosts promptly offering a town map and drawing the path into town for us so we would miss as little as possible. First impressions of Little Leaf and our room were great. Gorgeous decor ( esp the curtains and cushions..) Great features, including the a lovely mirror and quirky tea making area. The only downside, a little on the small side, but this was not a particularly important feature, we weren’t planning on spending too much time in the room itself.
Now thinking back over past B&B experiences both good and bad, I think it is those personal touches and individuality that makes a place stand out from the rest, and Little Leaf has these in abundance. From little treats you can order for your arrival ( champagne, roses, chocolates) for those planning surprise romantic breaks, to the offer of making up packed lunches for those coastal walks, to a daily specials breakfast menu, there really is everything you could ask for.
For the foodies among us, Little Leaf’s breakfasts were fab – always fresh fruit and juice, yoghurt and cereal, a choice of full english, veggie or breakfast of the day there was something for everyone. And my personal favourite – homemade dulce du leche – perfect on a piece of toast and hopelessly addictive.
The dining room/living area was a lovely space and had great views out towards the town and the harbour. Again, some lovely touches making all the difference – home-made biscuits for you to help yourself, great artwork on the walls and an honesty bar, where you can help yourself to some yummy cornish beers and ciders as well as wine a soft drinks, just noting what you take and paying on departure. Needless to say we got through a few of these after a long days sightseeing!
To top it off, Danny and Lee were absolutely charming, friendly, fun and full of stories and advice. Everything you could ask for in a host.
All in all our stay at Little Leaf was everything we could ask for, and who knows I may even foray on to trip advisor to write my own review.
Onwards up the Cornwall coast to our next destination. Pendeen House is I guess what you might call a more traditional B&B. Where Little Leaf had fun and quirks, Pendeen had classical style and timeless elegance. We stayed in the Beach Room, which although only looked out over the garden, was staggeringly big, and it was nice to have a sofa and table etc in the room.
There was also a fridge in each room, with fresh milk, water and some complimentary mini bottles of wine, with proper wine glasses to drink out of. A fab selection of Clipper teas, as well as coffees and hot chocolate made it a room you never needed to leave. A ceiling fan was great in the hot weather – unfortunately it only worked when the light was on meaning a warm warm night!
Again at Pendeen, the breakfasts were fantastic, award winning infact (earning the gold award from enjoy england.) There was so much choice, from continental favourites such as croissants, a full english, fresh smoked fish, or simply a bacon sandwich or poached eggs on toast. The bread was literally the size of a doorstep – homemade by Tara and absolutely excellent… I challenge anyone to be able to eat more that 1 slice! No pics of that I’m afraid – they just didn’t do it justice. Tara and Alan were amazingly welcoming and friendly, and the menagerie of animals made us feel right at home. Lee is very much missing Freya the dog!
I couldn’t have asked for more form the two B&B that we stayed at and would certainly recommend both to others. I’ve learnt from our travels this summer that there is certainly an art to running a B&B and we’ve found 2 couples that have definitely got it!