There’s a something about B&Bs that goes beyond the titular bed and breakfast.
Maybe it’s the tendency to be family-run, the penchant for charming country cottages, or the gloriously greedy fry ups invariably served up each morning. Whatever it is, it’s something uniquely British – the accommodation equivalent of an orderly queue outside the post office on a Sunday afternoon.
To inspire future getaways, we’ve trawled the nation to find a few special B&Bs that are doing all this and rather more. From weather-beaten windmills to old, converted churches, these are our picks.
1. The Llama’s Pyjamas, Cumbria
It may sound like a quirky pub, but The Llama’s Pyjamas – a Cumbrian cottage – does at least half of what it says on the tin. A gaggle of resident llamas live in the backyard, and are on hand for petting, trekking, and all your other llama-related needs.
The rooms themselves are decorated in South American styles – the Inca room with glittering purple fabrics; the Aztec room with mosaics of brown and red – while the attached Llama Karma Kafe features a range of llama-themed food (not, we hasten to add, made from them).
2. Rye Windmill, East Sussex
B&Bs come in all shapes and sizes, and nowhere proves this more elegantly than Rye Windmill, a grade II listed lodging on the banks of the River Tillingham in Sussex.
The aptly named ‘windmill suite’ boasts two circular storeys connected by a spiral staircase – while the luxurious ‘four poster room’ fills the windmill’s base. With a licensed bar and sleepy, suburban setting, this bizarre bolthole will blow you away.
3. The Old Church of Urquhart, Moray
‘The Old Church Of Urquhart‘ may sound like a fantasy novel, and the reality is only marginally less fantastical. A converted church dating from 1843, which still has an altar, Gothic windows and an ecclesiastical high ceiling, only the rust on the tower bell shows any real sign of age.
Nestled between the Grampian Mountains and the north Scottish coast, they even offer a dram of the local whisky.
4. Bryn Elltyd Eco Guest House, Snowdonia
From ground level it can be difficult to see what makes Bryn Elltyd so special. Comfortable if unspectacular accommodation, two conservatories, the usual array of board games – it’s perfectly pleasant but hardly revolutionary.
But the solar panels on the roof give the game away. This guest house runs on 100% renewable energy, lasting through the Welsh winter with a self-cleaning water boiler, well-developed insulation, and south-facing solar electric PV.
And within eco-friendly walking distance, you’ll find trout fishing, mountaineering, bouldering, and kayaking.
5. Vinegar Hill B&B, Hampshire
You’ve seen a church, you’ve seen a windmill, but how about a luxuriously restored 1885 Showman’s wagon? Rosie, as she is known by her proprietors at Vinegar Hill, comes fully equipped with a double bed, converted oil lamps, a cast iron stove, and an electric kettle.
There is a proper house on hand too, complete with food and facilities, but given the ornate swirls of gold gilding your wagon interior, you probably won’t want to spend much time away from it.