10 of the UK’s best B&Bs

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  • 10 of the UKs best B&Bs

    Bird and Carter, Wiltshire

    South Wiltshire (that sweet spot on the way to being Dorset) has seen an influx of artisans opening stylish independent stores with flair and sensitivity in recent years. And one of our favourites is Wilton farm shop Bird and Carter. Early 2020 (just a week before lockdown) saw the opening of its second spot – a smaller café in the village of Fonthill Bishop on the historic Fonthill Estate. It’s set in a former post office and there’s still a working postbox outside the front door. On Friday nights locals gather on the terrace (there are heaters) to feast on roast venison or curries cooked from all the best ingredients.

    It was only during the nationwide lockdown though that founders Annie (née Carter) and Joff Bird set to work on converting five bedrooms for overnight guests. Console tables, chairs and mirrors have been handcrafted by local furniture maker Matthew Burt, and lampshades are by the UK’s oldest marbling studio, Compton Marbling. We particularly love Ebble, the biggest room set in the eaves, with a beside roll-top bath stocked with full-size Bramley products and stacks of National Geographic magazines to get stuck into.

    Home-baked cookies or brownies are left as a welcome treat and guests can make the most of the amazing farm-shop produce by pre-ordering a hamper stuffed with cheese and house-made chilli chutney, Torres truffle crisps and Stonehenge Ales. Wake for a breakfast of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage yogurt and still-warm almond croissants, or avocado on toast. It is the perfect pit stop en route to Cornwall or Devon from London, but equally worthy of a weekend trip to explore the area’s foodie delights which include the brilliant Beckford Arms. This is a seriously smart and affordable contemporary B&B.

    Address: Bird & Carter, Fonthill SP3 5SF

    Telephone: +44 1747 445644

    Website: booking.com

    Price: From £85

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  • 10 of the UKs best B&Bs

    The Reading Rooms, Margate

    One of England’s oldest seaside towns, Margate has long been associated with bucket-and-spade day trippers. But driven by the opening of the Turner Contemporary four years ago, independent galleries, vintage homeware shops and pretty cafés have been popping up ever since.

    Ahead of the trend were Louise and Liam Nabb, who bought this five-storey Georgian townhouse (then split into 10 bedsits) on tree-lined Hawley Square when relocating from Hackney in 2007. The name evokes Margate’s heyday – before the arcade-slot-machine era – when public reading rooms kept wealthy Londoners (including Lord Nelson, Keats and Turner) entertained when they decamped here for the summer.

    The former graphic-design-and-DJ duo have restored floor-to-ceiling sash windows, exposed brick fireplaces and distressed slate-blue plasterwork, which is thought to date back to the 1760s. Now the top three floors are split into just three bedrooms in which whitewashed beams and parquet flooring are teamed with Anglepoise lamps, ornate antique chandeliers and salvaged iron radiators. There is, of course, plenty of reading material, from Penguin paperbacks and coffee-table books on design and Margate’s heritage, to stacks of World of Interiors magazines by the bedside tables. The top floor has a skyline sea view across the three-window-wide room and a bathroom so big it could host a morning yoga class.

    There is no mingling at The Reading Rooms: no bar, no reception area or formal check-in and, brilliantly, breakfast is served in the comfort of your room. Just tick what you fancy from the menu the night before and specify a time. Louise and Liam will appear right on cue with an antique wooden tray laden with carrot and ginger juice and their speciality: toasted ciabatta topped with cream cheese, honey and cinnamon.

    Address: The Reading Rooms, 31 Hawley Square, Margate, Kent, UK

    Telephone: +44 1843 225166

    Website: thereadingroomsmargate.co.uk

    Price: Doubles from £160

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  • 10 of the UKs best B&Bs

    The Post House, Chewton Mendip

    Once the post office and bakery for the local village and part of the Waldegrave Estate, this Grade II-listed, 400-year-old building was bought by Karen and John Price in 2005. Karen has plenty of experience in renovating and restoring properties (her most recent project is The Townhouse in Bath which opened last year as an exclusive-use rental for up to eight people) and it’s obvious in her elegant French-country-style interiors.

    Downstairs, thick lime plaster walls are painted in Farrow & Ball’s Old White and Clunch, there are original flagstone floors and low wooden beams, a huge 1950s poster for engine oil propped up against the wall and clusters of oversize glass vases. Through the wooden stable door and up the stairs, the choice is between the cosy Blue Room in the eaves, which has a bath at the end of the bed, or the bigger Suite with its own sitting room and a bathroom with a clawfoot, roll-top number (there’s also The Old Bakery, a one-bedroom apartment with a fully equipped kitchen, living room and private terrace). Thoughtful, homely touches are evident everywhere: a little jug of orange lilies on an oak table; all-butter biscuits baked that morning in a kilner jar on a dresser. Monty, a tail-wagging, wire-haired Jack Russell, is usually on meet-and-greet duty at the door. Breakfast – the full English if you’d like, with eggs and tomatoes supplied by a gentleman in the village and sausages from Walter Rose Butchers in Trowbridge – is served either by a crackling log fire or outside in the courtyard if the sun shines. Popular with walkers wanting to stride out over the Mendip hills, Chewton Mendip is also perfectly positioned for days out at Cheddar Gorge and the glorious cathedral city of Wells.

    Address: The Post House, Chewton Mendip, Somerset, UK

    Telephone: +44 1761 241704

    Website: theposthousebandb.co.uk

    Price: Doubles from £80

  • Trevose Harbour House, St Ives

    This whitewashed 1850s mid-terrace house in artsy St Ives is as refreshing as the breeze that blows gently through its harbour-facing windows. Painstakingly transformed from a fusty B&B in a 15-month project by owners Angela and Olivier Noverraz (who met at Switzerland’s prestigious Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne, speak six languages between them, and have worked in some of Europe’s top hotels), it’s now a dazzle of bright-white and sea blues, mid-century Ercol chairs and tables, and not a shell-print in sight. No detail has been overlooked, from the stamped silverware keyrings to the placement of the plug sockets.

    Each of the six rooms offers a slightly different spritz of the same palette (even the specially commissioned artworks by local artists are colour-coordinated) but all feature handpicked second-hand furniture, sink-in Hypnos beds and zesty Neal’s Yard potions. From here you can explore the galleries in St Ives, stroll the craggy Coast Path or delve deeper into Cornwall (most of the county’s highlights – Eden, Padstow, Heligan – are within an hour’s drive). The top-floor suite, which has a bath beneath a huge skylight for a good soak under the stars, is the ultimate retreat; equally romantic is the Terrace Deluxe annexe at the back, which still steals lovely harbour views. Downstairs there’s a snug with a log fire and a deep-blue sofa for cosying up with an aperitivo from the honesty bar in winter, and a small, suntrap terrace for summer. These spaces are where breakfast happens too. Everything is either homemade (bircher muesli) or organic (bread and pastries). There are daily changing smoothie shots and proper machine-brewed espressos while hot options run from traditional eggs and bacon to potato scones with Penryn Smokehouse salmon.

    Address: Trevose Harbour House, 22 The Warren, St Ives, Cornwall, UK

    Telephone: +44 1736 793267

    Website: trevosehouse.co.uk

    Price: Doubles from £140

  • 10 of the UKs best B&Bs

    Berdoulat, Bath

    No doubt there’s a whole gang of other B&Bs set in former Masonic digs and rustling up fresh Turkish mezze for breakfast, but if so they’re keeping pretty quiet. This singularly individual household belongs to Patrick Williams and his Istanbul-born wife Neri; Patrick counts William Morris and Lutyens among his heroes and restored his last home, above a Stepney pub, using skipfuls of salvaged treasure. He likes history without the creakiness, and the patina that ageing brings. At 5 Pierrepont Place – a townhouse built by Bath’s ringmaster architect, John Wood the Elder – the air is heady with the scent of vintage wood and the centrepiece kitchen, garlanded by crimped monte et baisse pendants, is as dimly lit and textured as a Vermeer still life. Both personal and architectural pasts are on display, from Patrick’s Victorian high chair (he’s not that old) to the building’s vellum deeds, collected in a huge frame by the front door. In the library upstairs is a thrillingly large collection of Penguins, a rare flirtation with modernity; downstairs are the two suites. In the bathroom of the biggest, a statue of the Madonna and Child avert their eyes and ghostly organ chords from the chapel next door may cause a Gothic shiver, despite the underfloor heating. The other has a huge stone hearth and a book-binding press bearing tea cups (boiling water and fresh milk are placed outside in the morning). The B&B is two minutes’ walk from the station and a toga flick from the Roman baths. Over palate-wakening dishes of melon, tomato-and-pomegranate salad and flaky börek (there’s also a meatier Somerset option), Neri will point you to lesser-known landmarks such as the Gin Shop on Queen Street and Menu Gordon Jones for some seriously outré cooking.

    Please note, Berdoulat is in the process of re-locating and is not currently taking bookings. Please check the website below for updates.

    Address: Berdoulat, 5 Pierrepond Place, Bath, Somerset, UK

    Telephone: +44 7734 543844

    Website: berdoulatandbreakfast.co.uk

    Price: Doubles from £150

  • 10 of the UKs best B&Bs

    The Linen Shed, near Faversham

    Unashamedly romantic is the only way to describe this dove-grey wooden house, framed with a wisteria-clad veranda, tucked high up off the road between grassy banks of wild flowers and higgledy-piggledy cottages in Boughton-under-Blean, Kent. All three bedrooms have their own quirky twist on owner Vickie Miles’ inspired style. The Green Room (downstairs, along with the laundry room which wafts out the crisp scent of freshly pressed linen) has a roll-top bath; there’s a wall of vintage 1950s mirrors in The Bird Room, and The French Room (the biggest) has a huge Empress bed, lace curtains and an upcycled cupboard to hide the television. The main upstairs living space has a rococo feel – a palette of pastel-painted wall panels, exposed floorboards and rattan armchairs – with a zinc-topped table and Singer sewing-machine chairs in the kitchen at the far end.

    Breakfast is a feast, cooked whenever you want and using local produce (except for the salted butter which Vickie pops to France for twice a year). Start with natural yogurt and homemade compote (rhubarb with orange and ginger is especially delicious), followed by potato rosti, fried eggs and smoked bacon, or pancakes, all served on pretty, mismatched china. Some regular guests bring foodie gifts (one Canadian lady travels with two tins of maple syrup in her luggage); it also attracts over-nighting musicians (Paul Young has slept in The French Room). If a few days here makes you long to run home and redecorate immediately, Vickie will happily draw up a map of the best antiques shops and dealers in Faversham to get the ball rolling.

    Address: The Linen Shed, 104 The Street, Boughton-under-Blean, Faversham, Kent

    Telephone: +44 7714 646469

    Website: thelinenshed.com

    Price: Doubles from £85

  • 10 of the UKs best B&Bs

    The Laindons, Hastings

    Right on the high street, in the heart of Hastings Old Town, this Grade II-listed former coach house was bought by Sara and Jon Young last year after a stint living in Stockholm (working for Design Hotels and as a product designer, respectively). The pair have swept a light, Scandinavian touch through the building. Breakfast is served at weathered oak tables in the grey floor-tiled conservatory, attached to the living room, which has views of pretty East Hill park. The full English is fantastic, the attention to detail spot on. Bread is home-baked and still warm from the oven. There are hand-carved wooden spoons for dishing out dollops of thick-cut Seville orange marmalade and Sunberry jam (a blackberry and raspberry cross) by Battle-based Martha & Ed’s Kitchen. And Jon brews coffee from beans that are roasted and sold in No.23, his new coffee shop out front.

    The five bedrooms all share the same understated livery of calming coastal-inspired colours. Some have grey and white wallpaper with fat, vertical pinstripes, original fireplaces and shuttered sash windows; room five comes with a freestanding bath and a window seat big enough for two, perfect for watching passers-by below (when you do want to venture out, head to Maggie’s on Rock-A-Nore Road for a tasty fish-and-chip supper). On the walls there are seascape oil paintings, a pair of rowing oars and straw hats hooked over pegs; industrial fisherman pendant lights hang from the ceiling, decorative starfish and wooden seagulls perch on ledges. The bespoke beds with navy throws are made from recycled wood by award-winning craftsmen at the Hastings & Bexhill Wood Recycling Project; along with the ‘Gull Ear Plugs’ provided (the neighbourhood flocks are incredibly noisy) they guarantee a proper night’s sleep.

    Address: The Laindons, 23 High Street, Hastings, UK

    Telephone: +44 1424 437710

    Website: thelaindons.com

    Price: Doubles from £120

  • 10 of the UKs best B&Bs

    Hannah’s, Winchester

    Last year, when 25-year-old Hannah McIntyre decided to put her singing career on hold and open a sophisticated city-central bed-and-breakfast, she plumped for a 19th-century former dancehall and livery stable, tucked into a tiny courtyard garden. The outer walls remain but she started from scratch inside, remodelling the space into three floors (an eye for interiors runs in the family: her mother owns nearby Jane McIntyre Design).

    Subtle scents of ginger and coriander root, due to the constantly burning Astier de Villatte candles, drift across an open-plan breakfast room (with a piano, should you feel like playing a few notes), and into an atmospheric sitting room with squashy sofas and a log-burner. The bedrooms are all upstairs (those in search of ultimate privacy book out all three and have the place to themselves). Careful, in such a functional building, not to overdo the reclamation, McIntyre has pulled off loft living with contemporary cosiness, and it’s a real struggle to haul yourself out of the sublimely comfortable beds. Each room is double-height, too, with a wooden ladder-staircase to a mezzanine-level, bathroom with a skylight (scrub up with lashings of Hannah’s fig-and-vanilla-scented products).

    This is an ideal bolthole for weekenders in search of one-off independent shops, cathedral detours and cut-above dining – which, in Winchester, means booking ahead for tables at Rick Stein’s eponymous restaurant or Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Canteen.

    Address: Hannah’s, 16a Parchment Street, Winchester, UK

    Telephone: +44 1962 840623

    Website: hannahsbedandbreakfast.co.uk

    Price: Doubles from £185

  • 10 of the UKs best B&Bs

    Number 38, Bristol

    It’s hard to beat the location of this double-fronted Georgian 18th-century merchant’s house a short stroll from Bristol Zoo, Clifton Village (brilliant for shopping) and the Lido. Mitch Tonks’ The Spiny Lobster restaurant is a three-minute walk away; a few doors down the Berlin-style speakeasy Hausbar is the spot for an expertly mixed, late-night Mojito. It’s just one of the many on-the-money tip-offs from the knowledgeable staff at Number 38, which was opened by brothers Michael and Adam Dorrien Smith four years ago (their family also owns Tresco in the Isles of Scilly).

    Adam is behind the design of the nine individual rooms, the best of which are the double-height West Loft and East Loft suites on the top floor. The first is more masculine with wood-panelled walls, painted in deeply calming Hague Blue, which cleverly separate the adjoining bathroom and the copper freestanding bath (East Loft is lighter and brighter with a coat of Lamp Room Grey). Sisal carpets, ceiling fans and colonial shutters give it a relaxed New England vibe and the green open spaces of Durdham Downs are framed like artworks in the windows.

    Views can also be had from the sheltered, south-facing rooftop terrace, which has been primped up with pots of colourful Mediterranean flowers from Tresco’s tropical gardens. Breakfast, served at round mahogany and iron tables in the open-plan living/dining room, should please even the fussiest eaters: fresh pressed juices and flaky croissants, sausages from nearby butchers Ruby & White, perfect poached eggs and the sweetest mini plum tomatoes. Save room for the spiced black pudding – it’s a revelation.

    Address: Number 38, 38 Upper Belgrave Road, Clifton, Bristol, UK

    Telephone: +44 1179 466905

    Website: www.number38clifton.com

    Price: Doubles from £110

  • 10 of the UKs best B&Bs

    Westbrook Court, near Hay on Wye

    It’s a well-told tale: London couple on holiday in the countryside spot a for-sale sign on a tumble-down farm and turn in for a look… Here that couple are Australian Kari Morgan and her husband Chris, and the countryside is a particularly idyllic slice of the Wye Valley, 10 minutes’ drive from bookish Hay. But instead of the usual rustic barn conversion, they’ve built a refreshingly sleek black-timber-clad annexe housing five suites.

    The effect is more self-contained apartments than B&B, especially in four of the rooms (numbers 2 to 5), which have beds up on a mezzanine level. Kari retrained as an interior designer and her skills are on show here: trompe-l’oeil wallpaper of white-washed exposed brick against the minimal black four-poster give room 1 an urban loft vibe; a zingy, lime, mid-century-style sofa pops against a bookshelf print wall in room 5. All have local touches – apple crates (this is cider country) re-purposed as shelves and Welsh wool throws from Melin Tregwynt, as well as little decked terraces that catch the morning sun. During the week these are just the spot for breakfast, a delivered hamper brimming with hard-boiled eggs and fresh-baked pastries, little pots of fruit and yogurt.

    At weekends the Morgans open up their 17th-century oak-beamed farmhouse for a proper fry-up (sausages and bacon from Gibbons butchers in Hay; eggs with marigold orange yolks from the family’s hens) eaten sat on Tolix chairs around a communal table where young city couples, outdoorsy families and retired walkers swap tips. Kari’s on hand, too, for much more than just rounds of toast and coffee: out come maps of walks, Hay Festival programmes, and personal favourites and finds, depending on what direction the day looks like taking.

    Address: Westbrook Court, Hereford, near Hay on Wye

    Telephone: +44 1497 831752

    Website: westbrookcourtbandb.co.uk

    Price: Doubles from £85

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