Britain's hotels have been rated among the best in the world by holidaymakers after eight consecutive year-on-year improvements in customers ratings.
Rising higher than accommodation in the rival travel markets of the US, Germany, France and Spain, the UK's stock of bed-and-breakfasts and hotels have been rated above the global average for the first time by users of the travel reviews website TripAdvisor.
Releasing a compilation of annual data for reviews dating back to 2004, the website said that by the end of 2011 British offerings were rated 4.09 out of 5 on average, up from 3.48 when the website first launched eight years ago.
The key driver has been an improvement in customer service and cleanliness, according to the results, with smaller venues outrating larger chains.
Pierre Williams, spokesman for the Federation of Small Businesses, said: "Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy, so it is great to see British B&B's holding their own against the large hotel chains. It just goes to show how much people appreciate the personal touch, and how you don't need vast resources and a huge marketing budget to provide great service."
Jo Causon, chief executive of the Institute of Customer Service, added: "We know from institute data that as customers we have become more demanding. What the TripAdvisor data shows is that where there is a focus on delivering excellence in service it will be rewarded by the recommendations customers post."
The data showed that Cumbria has the best-ranked hotels and B&Bs, with a countywide score of 4.30. It was closely followed by Cornwall, with Northumberland, Devon and Somerset completing the top five.
"Hotel and B&B owners have clearly been listening to the free feedback they have received, and used it to improve the service they provide," said TripAdvisor's business president, Christine Petersen.Reuse content