A Victorian country house believed to have been designed by the author and poet Thomas Hardy and located in the heart of the Wessex landscape he immortalised has been named the world’s best bed-and-breakfast hotel.
Lisa and Clive Orchard bought Bindon Bottom in West Lulworth, Dorset, three years ago after giving up their jobs in retail and IT, then changed its name and renovated its five bedrooms and en-suite bathrooms.
Now their efforts have been rewarded after the double-fronted villa was declared the winner of the B&B category in the Travellers’ Choice awards, based on public reviews and comments posted on the TripAdvisor website.
Six of the top 10 B&Bs were in the UK, with the top three in seaside resorts. All Seasons Guest House in Filey, North Yorkshire, was second, while Saxon Villa, at nearby Robin Hood’s Bay, was fourth.
Mrs Orchard, originally from Australia, fell in love with the English countryside while backpacking in her 20s. She said the secret of a top-class B&B was about getting the basics right. “It is about attention to detail, but you have to offer a great breakfast and a lovely bed,” she said.
Bindon Bottom has five bedrooms, all named after poets and writers. Rooms cost between £85 and £110 per night. West Lulworth’s village church, Holy Trinity, was rebuilt by a Dorchester architect, John Hicks, in 1870; his pupil was a young Thomas Hardy. It was completed around the same time as Bindon Bottom, then known as Bindon Villas.
In pictures: World's top 10 B & B's
In pictures: World's top 10 B & B's
1/10 1. Bindon Bottom B&B
One of the award-winning rooms in the Bindon Bottom B&B, West Lulworth, Dorset, United Kingdom
2/10 2. All Seasons Guest House Filey
The welcoming All Seasons Guest House Filey, Filey, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom
3/10 3. Historic Oak Hill Inn
A lounge in the Historic Oak Hill Inn, Natchez, Mississippi, United States
4/10 4. Saxon Villa
A bedroom in Saxon Villa, Robin Hood’s Bay, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom
5/10 5. Baan Malinee Bed and Breakfast
The tempting pool at Baan Malinee Bed and Breakfast, Thalang District, Thailand
6/10 6. Linnett Hill
An airy twin room at Linnett Hill, Keswick, Cumbria, United Kingdom
7/10 7. Riad Alnadine
Atmospheric architecture at the Riad Alnadine, Marrakech, Morocco
8/10 8. Dumfries House Lodge
A cosy room at Dumfries House Lodge, Cumnock, East Ayrshire, United Kingdom
9/10 9. Millgate Bed & Breakfast
A spacious room at Millgate Bed & Breakfast, Masham, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom
10/10 10. Arbor Guest House
A private fireplace at Arbor Guest House, Napa, California, United States
Hardy was later to write the poem At Lulworth Cove A Century Back, marking the poet John Keats’s point of embarkation for his ill-fated visit to Rome 100 years earlier.
As well as its literary associations, Bindon Bottom, which stands five minutes’ walk from the busy beach at Lulworth Cove, provides ready access on to the Dorset hills and the World Heritage Jurassic Coast.
The B&B has garnered 459 reviews on TripAdvisor and is rated with five stars. A typical comment posted by a guest in November read: “This surely is the best bed and breakfast you can stay in – just the most wonderful place and the most fantastic hosts – everything is exceptional – their high rating is duly justified – wonderful! Brilliant breakfast, gorgeous organic toiletries, the most loveliest of places.”
Mrs Orchard said many of her guests came for the weekend from London and the Home Counties, but they had also welcomed visitors from Australia, New Zealand and Germany. “The location is obviously wonderful, but strangely enough I think one of the reasons for our success is the fact that neither of us had a catering or hospitality background.
“The reviews rave about Clive’s breakfast. He goes to a great deal of trouble to get the best local produce and we have a fantastic local farm shop which gathers all the ingredients we have handpicked,” she said.
The couple both gave up high pressure jobs to pursue their dream of running a B&B and say they enjoy the lifestyle having got through the first year “running on pure adrenaline”. They decided on the new name for the house during a shopping trip to Waitrose. It is one of 100 “Bottoms” in Wessex.
James Kay, of TripAdvisor, said 15 of the world’s top 25 B&B’s were in the UK. Devon was home to 11 winning hotels in five of the seven categories – more than any other county in Britain and more than New York and Rome combined.
The Chester Residence in Edinburgh was named third-best luxury hotel in the world, while Lauriston Court Hotel in Llandudno was third in the “best bargain stay” category.
“It is great to see that Britain continues to lead the way when it comes to outstanding B&Bs,” Mr Kay said.
Good night’s sleep: The top 10
1 Bindon Bottom B&B, West Lulworth, Dorset, United Kingdom
2 All Seasons Guest House Filey, Filey, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom
3 Historic Oak Hill Inn, Natchez, Mississippi, United States
4 Saxon Villa, Robin Hood’s Bay, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom
5 Baan Malinee Bed and Breakfast, Thalang District, Thailand
6 Linnett Hill, Keswick, Cumbria, United Kingdom
7 Riad Alnadine, Marrakech, Morocco
8 Dumfries House Lodge, Cumnock, East Ayrshire, United Kingdom
9 Millgate Bed & Breakfast, Masham, North Yorkshire, United Kingdom
10 Arbor Guest House, Napa, California, United StatesReuse content