I’ve always thought it’s a good idea to have two copies of Sawday’s British “B&B bible” – one on your coffee table or bookshelf and one in the car, in case you need a quick stopover while travelling.
I like the book because it chooses the best British B&Bs offering that bit extra, so you are not just checking into characterless buildings with not terribly interesting owners.
The latest edition has hit bookshelves – listing 580 of Britain’s most special B&Bs.
Founder Alastair Sawday says: “In the hubbub and hullaballoo we remain a calm voice of discrimination, interesting taste and subjective opinion. We find great places and tell the truth about them. Not very much interested in the ‘creeping boutique’ world of the ‘luxury’ B&B, rather we like to champion those places where the owners have let their own personality and character be stamped right through them.”
From a restful room hiding above an ultra-trendy lifestyle shop to a Georgian house injected with Shoreditch pizzazz in the Yorkshire Dales, the team have picked out Top 10 favourite new additions:
Grab a flat white in the lifestyle shop before checking in at Caro, Bruton, Somerset
Step into Caro, Natalie’s coffee bar and design shop, the stylish bedroom is upstairs and breakfast is provided at nearby top-notch bakery At the Chapel. Natalie has thought of everything: Roberts radio and tea, roll top bath, big shower and Aesop aromatics.
£120 per night, Caro
Walk into a designer’s dream at Westbrook Court, Hay-on-Wye, Herefordshire
A smoothly contemporary stables renovation with views over the Wye Valley. Each suite opens on to the sun deck, most have a mezzanine bedroom above your sitting space and all have vintage pieces, unusual books and Welsh throws; smart bathrooms have aromatics and bath sheets. Breakfasts are local and generous.
From £90 per night, Westbrook Court
Get a taste of India in the Yorkshire Dales at The Malabar, Sedbergh, Cumbria
Well-travelled Fiona and Graham have restored the barn next to their farmhouse in the glorious Yorkshire Dales into deeply comfortable spaces. Graham was born in India and tea plays a big part here; arrive to a mound of scones, meringues, triple choc brownies, retire to the Indian inspired sitting room upstairs.
Doubles from £160 per night, The Malabar
Sleep soundly in the Pembrokeshire National Park at Argoed, Newport, Pembrokeshire
Pictures of changes over the years at 1600s Argoed cover the walls – there are stories galore about this fascinating house. The big bedroom has calm natural colours; goose down pillows and Welsh blankets keep you snug; the sitting room has vintage wallpapers, wood-burner, comfy red sofas and views across wildflower meadows.
£90 per night, Argoed
Indulge in a spot of croquet at Summerhow House, Kendal, Cumbria
In four acres of fine landscaping and fun topiary is a large and inviting home of flamboyant wallpapers and shades of aqua, lemon and rose. Bedrooms have gilt frames and marble fireplaces, Molton Brown goodies and garden views, there are two sitting rooms to retreat to and fabulous breakfasts.
From £80 per night, Summerhow House
Shoreditch pizzazz reaches Yorkshire at Stow House, Leyburn, Yorkshire
Step into Stow House to find – Shoreditch pizzazz! Sarah and Phil have swapped the world of London advertising for a dream house in the Dales; she does cocktails, he does breakfasts. Floors, banisters and sash windows have been restored, stairs carpeted in plush red, sofas covered in zinging velvet – the paper mâché hare’s head above the bar says it all.
From £110 per night, Stow House
Sleep under beams in the South Downs at Dunhill Barn, Petersfield, Hampshire
Arrive for Jan’s homemade cake and feel quite at home. Her relaxed, rustic house is full of natural tones, quirky pieces, candles and twinkling wood fires. Bedrooms brim with beamy character; Cartshed is ideal for a sharing party; snug Granary is on two floors. At breakfast, tuck into home-baked banana muffins, granola, berries, and a full cooked spread. You’re in the heart of South Downs with good pubs nearby.
From £110 per night, Dunhill Barn
Stay for a harpsichord recital at Harlington Manor, Harlington, Bedfordshire
Charles II may have stayed, and his bedroom has changed little… David’s home is a dramatic trove of antiques, art, rich colour, grand piano, rose carvings, gorgeous bedrooms. Breakfast is continental with compotes and yogurt, home-baking, tea in heirloom china. David’s a good cook, and dinner with the family might include a harpsichord recital.
From £80 per night, Harlington Manor
Homemade cream tea awaits at Garfield House, South Brent, Devon
Every original watercolour and eclectic piece here has a story. Art Deco mixes with vintage maps and a French vibe, wood fires burn, sash windows look out to the moor, and elegant bedrooms have space, light and roses. Tuck into heaps of local produce at breakfast.
£95 per night, Garfield House
Find The Netherlands hiding in Kent at Great Selson Manor, Sandwich, Kent
This is one of the earliest Dutch-influenced buildings in east Kent. Step inside to wonderful features at every turn: a striking brick hall floor, a Jacobean oak staircase, Graham’s artwork, oriental musical instruments, an elegant library. Inviting bedrooms, claw foot baths, and cushiony sofas in the sitting room add to the comfortable vibe.
From £100 per night, Great Selson Manor
Sawday’s Special Places British Bed & Breakfast is available from all good bookshops (RRP £15.99).
For more information visit Sawdays