Britain's hotels used to have a reputation for eccentricity – an image best captured in the sitcom Fawlty Towers. But no longer: the nation's hotels have been rated among the best in the world by holidaymakers after eight consecutive year-on-year improvements in customers' ratings.
Rising above the rival travel markets of the United States, Germany, France and Spain, the UK's stock of B&Bs and hotels have been rated above the global average for the first time by users of the travel-review website TripAdvisor.
Releasing a compilation of review data since 2004, the website said that by the end of 2011 British offerings were rated 4.09 out of five on average, up from 3.48 when the website 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. The data also showed that Cumbria has the best-ranked hotels and B&Bs, with a countywide score of 4.3. "Hotel and B&B owners have, it appears, clearly been listening to the free feedback they have received," TripAdvisor's business president Christine Petersen said.