Top positive review
17 people found this helpful
Forget about hotels - choose a B&B
on 11 October 2006
Having recently discovered Alastair Sawday, I have resolved not to look at hotels again unless absolutely necessary. This guide to British Bed & Breakfast lists hundreds of personally run places with a heart. I've already stayed at a few of them, and they live up to the descriptions in the guide. The places I've stayed at are often more stylish than hotels, although they might not always conform to conventional norms, but the most important thing is that they are real homes. When you visit these intimate places, you don't have to wait at a reception desk to register, but are always greeted by the owners (and sometimes by their pets) and helped to carry your bags into your room. There is often some welcoming tea and home-made scones, and a friendly chat with the owners in front of a fire (if the weather is unfavourable), or in the garden in sunny weather. Food is usually served en famille at a communal table, often in an open-plan kitchen with an Aga. These places make you feel a real person again. If you are on your own, you will feel relaxed, and will be sure to get some assistance in planning the day ahead, with maps for walks or cycling, or recommendations of restaurants or pubs or interesting places to visit.
Yet again, it is difficult to generalise. Lots of these B&B's haven't been rated by tourist boards, and don't follow a strict formula. They might be period houses, working farms, cottages, manors - but then the entry on each one tells you all you need to get a clear picture of what a place is like. This book is different from all the others in that descriptions are succinct and individual, and create a clear image in one's mind without all those clichés one finds in most guides. (I would here make an exception of THE GOOD HOTEL GUIDE, which is another book I like - but then that tends to cater for people who are looking for something a bit more up-market.) There are also pictures, and the guide has a website on which there are additional pictures.
Once hooked on Alastair Sawday, you'll be a fan for ever and won't look elsewhere. Sawday has guides to accommodation all over the world, including France, Italy, Greece and even India. And there is also a GREEN PLACES TO STAY which has a world-wide coverage. That is another reason why I like Sawday's guides. They are based on a vision of environmentally friendly tourism. Many of the B&B's included in his guide offer local and organic food and follow green policies. Also, in view of globalisation and global warning, it's high time that we should seek tourism which is less damaging to the environment than long-haul trips. We should look at our feet. Instead of Gran Canaria, think Wales. Instead of Ibiza, go to Scotland. And there is the Lake District, Cornwall, Norfolk, and even London - yes, I've already found lovely places in London which are affordable, and offer wonderful accommodation in real homes. Usually, these places don't have B&B signs outside. You would never know about them unless you bought Alastair Sawday's guide. I really can't think of a bad word to say about this book. Sorry.