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As seen in Transitions Abroad Magazine July/August 2003
 

Bed and Breakfasts in England

By the Time You Leave, You Will Feel You’re Saying Goodbye to Friends

Bed and Breakfast

If you are turned off by group tours; if you like to examine grocery stores when you travel to see what the locals really eat; if you strike up conversations with strangers while waiting for a bus or the subway; if you think breakfast should be the best meal of the day—then the English bed and breakfast will appeal to you.

The bed is a bed—clean and comfortable. Your private bathroom is usually down the hall. But the English breakfast is something else: It starts with orange juice, fruit, cereal, muesli, yogurt, milk, and scones or buns, and of course hot tea or coffee. Then you will be offered a hot, cooked breakfast consisting of a choice of eggs (fried, poached, scrambled, or omelette), sausages, bacon, a broiled tomato, and possibly fried potatoes or mushrooms accompanied with lots of toast with butter and English jams. The black currant and the orange and treacle (molasses) jams are special treats. It is not likely you will be hungry again before late afternoon.

The Benefits

First, the price: Bed and breakfasts usually are less expensive than hotels. Some places accept credit cards but offer a discount if you pay in cash. If you book ahead online and communicate via email, your hosts will provide this information in advance so you will be prepared.

Tea at a Bed and Breakfast

Bed and breakfast owners enjoy providing for the needs of their guests. They like sharing information about their towns and villages and are happy to offer advice on the best places to go and where to eat. By the time you leave, you will feel you are saying goodbye to friends. This is a second good reason for choosing bed and breakfasts.

A third reason is that when you stay in a bed and breakfast you are visiting in someone’s home, and learning the subtleties of day-to-day life in an English home.

Finally, being in a home-like atmosphere is relaxing. At Yorke Lodge in Canterbury, for example, after a busy day of sightseeing, guests can sit in the library, pull a book or magazine from the bookshelf and read, or have a glass of sherry with good company until bedtime.

How to Book

If you like to be spontaneous in your travel, you can simply drive to your location and look for a bed and breakfast that suits you. You could also go to one of the 800 British Tourist Information Centres located in almost every town. They can book a room for you on the spot or one day in advance. If you prefer, you can go first to www.visitbritain.com. There you will find almost all the information you will need for your trip, including places to go, weather, special travel deals, and accommodations. Under the "accommodation" you will find a large database of U.K. bed and breakfasts. You can narrow your search by location, price, rating, and other requirements.

Many other global websites such as airbnb.com and homeaway.com allow you to view the facility itself, get additional detailed information, and read reviews by those who have stayed at the location.

Bed and breakfast booking agencies offer inquiry services and online booking, sometimes requiring a memebership. Karen Brown’s Guides,” is a very informative site. This listing of "romantic" places also offers links to itineraries, theater, England links, currency converter, and a reader’s forum. "Bed and Breakfast Nationwide" lists hundreds of homes by region. It includes links to travel tips and special information.

Bed and breakfasts are rated according to guidelines established by the English Tourism Council in conjunction with the Automobile Association and the Royal Automobile Association.

 
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