My wife and I have used these guides for several years and have found some excellent B&B's. Don't think that 'Special' necessarily means expensive as there's a good cross-section here from small homely cottages to grand chateaux. We've met some wonderful hosts and had great experiences. The 'tatty chateau' (as we named it) near Saumur (Loire) sticks in the mind, dinner in the garden starting at 10pm (waiting for late guests) and finishing at 1am, excellent cooking, flowing wine, then to bed in an ancient four-poster - magic. November in Provence, bitterly cold outside but dinner served in front of a blazing log fire, fresh trout bought especially for us. Memories are made of this.. Buy it and go...
I have already used the book to plan a stay in France. The information given was helpful in choosing here I would (or would not!) want to stay. The introduction is very clear on the criteria they use to choose whether a place is included or not i.e. there are no set parameters, it is a question of whether they like the place,and why. The star rating for the book is not reliable at this stage, as one would have to have visited the properties to know if the descriptions are accurate.
A new Special Places from Alastair Sawday is always a special treat to read and to savour the anticipation of Special Places to Stay. This new edition is fully refreshed with new discoveries plus old favourites and has a green/eco tinge, consistent with Sawday's beliefs. Great to hear that his company has won a Queen's Award for Enterprise in the Sustainable Development category.
Very much like this book, as it is very detailed, giving lots of information which is absolutely spot- on. Used it while driving round the country, and making instant decisions on where to stay, and never found any fault with the venues nor their owners. Perfect!
This book was easy to use and the B&Bs therein were mostly available with 24 hours notice unlike the French Michelin book where everyone was full. We met some delightful people, both French and English, and the standard was uniformly high. My only criticism is that the 2008 edition which Amazon sent me about a month ago was actually out of date by 3 years in one case. This book became my first choice go-to.