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As seen in Transitions Abroad Magazine July/August 2003
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Bed and Breakfast in England

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

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 range from £40 to £70 (approximately $60 to $105). Some places accept credit cards but offer a discount if you pay in cash. If you book ahead through email, your hosts will provide this information in advance so you will be prepared.

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 the official British Travel Authority’s website at www.travelbritain.org. 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 deals" location you will find the entire database for U.K. bed and breakfasts. You can narrow your search by location, price, rating, and other requirements. Many places have websites where you can view the facility itself and get additional detailed information.

Bed and breakfast booking agencies offer inquiry services and online booking, for a booking fee. “B&B My Guest,” www.beduk.co.uk, lists 300 “romantic hideaways and historic properties.” The website itself is interesting, helpful, and easy to use. It lists nearby attractions for all of the places in their listings. “Karen Brown’s Guides,” located at www.karenbrown.com, is another informative site. This listing of "romantic" places also offers links to itineraries, theatre, England links, currency converter, and a reader’s forum. "Bed and Breakfast Nationwide," located at www.bedandbreakfastnationwide.com, lists at least 650 homes. It includes comments from contented traveler and links to travel tips and special information. "B&B NET," www.uk-expo.com, offers free inquiry service and secure online booking of private established bed and breakfasts and hotels. There are links on this site to tours, car hire, and other travel 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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