What is Bed and Breakfast?

We know Bed and Breakfast means accommodation - but so does hotel, guest house and inn. What distinguishes a B&B? Is it size, quality, price or facilities?

The AA, ETB,  etc have said you can only be a hotel if you have more than 6 letting rooms, 75% of these en-suite, a restaurant, lounge and liquor license. The real distinction of a B&B is that you stay in someone's home. This means that it will be small, with usually 1 - 4 rooms. Many do not serve meals other than breakfast and some have very basic facilities. However, in the higher quality B&Bs the facilities and services can compete with the top hotels.

A guest house was originally accommodation for your visitors. In their commercial form, guest houses generally had more facilities and were (and are) usually larger, perhaps half way between a home and a hotel. Today, the terms have become blurred, some owners don't like the term B&B because it sounds downmarket, others don't like guest house because it sounds too impersonal.

Confused with the English grading system? You are not alone. Now we all have stars, but previously B&Bs and guest houses had diamonds (and before that crowns). Hotels have always had stars. However, it is obvious that a B&B with 3 stars is going to be different to a hotel with 3 stars. In theory, the more stars the better the quality, but this could be very misleading because the odds are you won't agree with the inspector who hands out the stars and, dare we suggest, the standards vary across the country. The trick with B&B is to match the ambiance and facilities offered with what you like.

Let's try an example. Why does Brownhill House not have 5 stars? There are no televisions in the bedrooms (deliberately) but there is nothing much else missing in the way of facilities. We don't get marks for computers and internet as those are not on the inspector's check list. A good reason is that our rooms are moderately sized, not too small but not huge either. The bathrooms are good and the lounge generous but there are no king sized beds or four-posters. We don't get points for 2 acres of garden featured on TV. Our walls are mostly painted (some exposed stone) not expensively papered. We like the pictures on the walls but they are not valuable. Our curtains have no frills, the baths are not coloured pink and the furniture is relatively plain. In other words everything is comfortable and functional with quality where it matters, but not posh. If frills, bone china cups and silver cutlery are important to you don't come, but if what we offer on these web pages appeals to you then you might give us 5 out of 5.

In fact we hope Brownhill House epitimises the modern B&B in that you are in our home (which is not a stately home)  so we are in close proximity and have to respect each other's needs. We invite you in because we like meeting people and want you to enjoy the attractions of our locality. We hope you will enjoy our company in the evening if invited to join us for a drink and good conversation around the kitchen table. But, if you prefer to watch television, read a book or go to bed that is fine. We are not a hotel so if you are a big strong man nobody offers to carry your case and if you phone during the day or arrive before or after your expected time do not be surprised if if nobody is in - we have lives of our own. However, we try and provide the facilities and services which will make your stay both comfortable and enjoyable - some of them not matched by hotels with several stars.

On-line reviews  have become more important that grading to some people. The problem is that they are extremely subjective, often completely without validation and could well be incorrect. We get some very complimentary reviews but only a small percentage of those who enjoyed their stay post comments. In contrast,  everyone who was less than satisfied for whatever reason writes a negative review and inevitably we get a few. We find that in all such cases we would rather they had stayed elsewhere.

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