/ What do walkers and climbers look for in a B&B?
We are about to launch a B&B in the Cairngorms.
We will be aiming at folk who love the outdoors. Ski, walk, climb, bike.....
What do you folk look for in a B&B when you are off on a Scottish adventure?
usual bits like, clean tidy, option to be self catered if poss (though I accept its more for bunk houses).
Plus: drying room, somewhere safe to keep your stuff (valuable bits like gear/bike/skis) away from other guests, good powerful shower and CHEAP. Most of us (that I know at least, still try to do everything on a small budget)
To be honest, I rarely stay in B&B's. Perhaps if the weather is driech, and I'm only up for a short stay (so want some creature comforts). So perhaps I'm not your target market, but
*Good quality* drying room/ kit storage
Free Wifi (and not involving a tiresome sign-up process; just a password)
Decent choice for breakfast, including a help yourself for folk leaving early
Not too twee
Good, powerful showers
Evening meals if no pubs/restaurants nearby.
The best ever B&B welcomed us with tea & biscuits after a day on the hill, the same when we came back from the pub and did evening meals.
Oh. One more thing.
Labels on the taps saying whether its drinking water or not. I'm always a bit suspicious of hotel taps, and whether the water is fresh or been lingering in a rat-infested tank in the attic for a month.
Drying room essential
Off road parking
Loan of local maps/guide books etc is always a nice touch and much appreciated
Non creaky bed for couples :)
I meant to add good luck with the venture!
A useful second income but no great shakes. We gave up with it when they changed the fire regs a few years ago. Too much hassle and expense, and the income was steadily declining with the upsurge in self catering.
Use climbing huts or wild camp when on trips up north now.
So do your research but dont class me as a typical customer as I have a very dusty wallet.
Some tools & offer to help with puncture repairs or other basic repairs might make you stick out.
Actually that's a good one (for hotels as well). It can be very frustrating to miss breakfast because you need to make an early start. Owners who take that extra bit of trouble would go up a lot in my estimation and make me more inclined to book again and recommend.
We never stay in B and B's mostly because it forces you to have a meal out. If you could have access to a kitchen i would much rather stay in a b and b than a hostel as it costs so much for a double/twin room.
Best places we have stayed are mini suites that have a mini kitchen included in the room. All bases covered there.
I haven't read the thread, but as a B&B user for both work outside and for play I'd say
Very early breakfasts
REAL coffee (less common that you might imagine)
A telly in the room rather than a communal lounge (mainly for workies)
Beds long enough for people who are over 6ft.
The most welcome sight I've had at B&B was arriving at the B&B after a long and scorching hot day's surveying on a windfarm and being greeted by the proprietor with two ice cold pints of lager for us.
All the above suggestions are good.
One thing that probably goes without saying is to make sure that people feel welcome when they turn up in their muddy boots and sodden waterproofs - don't make people feel like they can't get mud on the carpet. That probably just means some kind of porch where people can strip their boots and outer layers off before coming in (which can double as a drying room if it is big/warm enough). I know that sounds kind of obvious, but I have stayed in at least one B&B that said it welcomed walkers but made me feel distinctly uncomfortable that I wasn't immaculately attired when I turned up!
For your own sake, invest in a decent dehumidifier for the drying area. It will be cheaper to run and more efficient than cranking the heat up.
Secure, dry place to store bikes, a hose to rinse the mmud off bikes.
A drying room.
A front hall that you can walk into with muddy boots to take them off, with a storage rack, rather than hopping around in the rain outside, worried about the brand new cream carpet in the hall! Could just be a good porch...
I personally would prefer access to a kitchen, to make a drink and to store milk and sandwich making kit and to get my own breakfast and tea - that would save you work in making meals for people who prefer to get their own. You could always offer breakfasts as an extra that people can choose to order and pay for, which would keep the price and the work down for those who don't want them?
Good showers. I don't mind sharing showers.
If there is a communal sitting area, then I quite like that, but it wouldn't sway me one way or the other.
I tend to stay in huts or bunkhouses which let you be more independent and tend to be cheaper.
Internet booking. When there are multiple options the one with online booking will always win over somewhere I need to phone or e-mail to cehck availability.
Location, price, online booking which lists availability.
Outdoor types are generally practical / thrifty dirty bags but low maintenance guests.
1. Sound insulation - quiet bedrooms...
You'll lose repeat customers and reputation amongst guests with just one night with a screaming baby next door, or vigorous and vocal lovers in the next room, or people stumbling about late and drunk, or getting up super-early and banging around with outdoor kit, doors and bathrooms...
2. Flexibility with parking, leaving kit and cars during the day - even after checking out.
3. A friendly welcome and some small free treat - like home-baked cake or biscuits. It amazes me more places don't do this - cost is minimal compared to the good feelings it generates.
4. A bit of local "stuff" - info on the best pub, restaurant, cafe, short cut across a field to the crag (or pub!), walk that takes in some local interest, rainy day options, locally sourced breakfast-ingredients etc Always interesting and memorable to get a bit of the story behind things.
May be worth dividing into two groups (both of which I have been part of)-
Walkers and possibly ski-ers- same as other mid range B+B's but with a drying room and store for kit plus plenty of parking if possible. Lots of nice luxuries and plenty of leaflets. Directions to the most twee little pub in the area and close proximity to local gear shops, so if the weather is remotely poor the day can be spent looking at coats and the latest 'Icebreaker' apparel.
Climbers and probably mountain bikers aswell-
1)Cheap-most important-we're all dirtbags at heart.
3) Coffee closely followed by food, but keep it cheap or you'll find us cooking on gas stoves in our rooms.
Main thing though.. nice reliable shower... decent power..
As an outdoor instructor and guiding company based in the Cairngorms, I'm frequently disappointed at the B&B provision for climbers and walkers. Despite it being a popular ski and climbing area, I'm oftened surprised at the poor drying facilities and the inflexible hours of many places. To make the best of the winter conditions or weather, clients oftene have to miss a cooked breakfast or evening meal, if we decide on an early start or late finish!
Not much to add to the list, but here are things that put me off otherwise great b&bs...
1) No curtains or innefectual curtains. After a hard days walking I just might want to sleep in after sunrise, esp true up North.
2) impeller driven poo choppers (e.g. saniflow) - often used to fit showers, sinks and crappers into rooms more cheaply than running proper wide bore plumbing. I can sleep through someone flushing on the next room at 3am but these infernal contraptions could wake the dead...
Actually, that's about it, other than the obvious ones of stark raving mad staff (very rare) and filthy rooms or bogs.
On the positive side, a highlight for me of some Scottish B&Bs are those black pudding sized hagis slices, and it's always nice to fid quality biscuits in the room, and hot chocolate for us weirdos that don't drink tea or coffee.
Lots of good points above. The things that would make me more likely to go back somewhere, or less likely to if they're rubbish/not there, are:
Good powerful and hot shower.
Curtains/blinds that make the room dark.
Effective drying room.
Towels are nice too as they're a pain to bring.
Over heated rooms are terrible as well.
We rarely stay in B&Bs, tending to use the campervan or stump up for a decent hotel, for the following reasons:
I like to be able to get a drink (hot or boozy) when I want one, and not have to go out to a different place (eg a pub) if tired. Similarly, I don't just want a coffee in the morning or after dinner, I may want one, or a hot choccy, after a long hill day in winter.
I don't like feeling that I am staying in the house of someone I don't know. I always feel like an intruder. This is especially bad if the décor is old fashioned and homely, but the worst place I ever stayed was the bedroom of the owner's teenage son who was away that weekend. Girly and footy pics on the wall. Ugh. This can be resolved by keeping the décor smart, modern and hotel-like.
B&Bs generally have no drying facilities.
In winter especially, early starts mean early breakfasts. Yes the campervan is cold, but at least we can get out and about earlier.
If you can resolve all of the above, and be friendly, welcoming, and competitively priced, it would be a good start.
Oh, and one more thing... in summer, midges permitting, it's always nice to have a garden or patio to sit out in, rather than feeling you need to be confined to your bedroom.
Though realise this may not suit those who like their full english!
To summarise, your B&B needs to have/be the following: -
Cheaper than camping.
24 hour meal provision.
Communal TV viewing area.
Private TV viewing area.
Private secure area for large items like bikes, etc.
> To summarise, your B&B needs to have/be the following: -
> Cheaper than camping.
> Self catering.
> 24 hour meal provision.
> Drying facilities.
> Communal TV viewing area.
> Private TV viewing area.
> Private secure area for large items like bikes, etc.
> Power Showers.
> Free Wi-Fi.
sounds like home :-)
> To summarise, your B&B needs to have/be the following: -
> Cheaper than camping.
A bed under a roof in a home cheaper than a piece of grass to stick your tent on? Why on earth would that be cheaper? Why would a BnB survive as a business if it charges less to have more than a patch of grass?!
Something that really annoys me is the poor provision for single travelers.It works out expensive paying each time for a double room ! I realise that single-occupancy brings in less revenue, but might be something worth considering.
I really appreciated ( in a B & B in Thurso) being able to bring back some takeaway and eat it in the breakfast room. I arrived far too late to eat out. I cleared away and washed up afterwards.
Finally, when you're paying £80 a night for B & B you expect something decent. My most recent experiences in Scotland were all very encouraging, much more so than in England where the owners had a much more inflexible attitude.
Good luck !
> A bed under a roof in a home cheaper than a piece of grass to stick your tent on? Why on earth would that be cheaper?
Some homes probably work out cheaper than the inflated prices at some campsites.
> My most recent experiences in Scotland were all very encouraging, much more so than in England where the owners had a much more inflexible attitude.
At the end of the Nineties I worked away from home a lot.
I was always pleasantly surprised at the value and hospitality of B+B's north of the border.
We usually only stay in B&B's when the weather is good (most lack drying facilities). We'll often not use them in winter because skiing, climbing, hillwalking etc all require an early start on the hill (or lift queue).
As a walker / climber, my ideal B&B would have:
* A decent drying area (have stayed in one where they put the fire on especially for our sodden kit so we'd not have to go out damp in the morning).
* The ability to have breakfast early (as in 6am). Continental in the fridge or whatever is fine. I'm not asking someone to get up at silly o'clock to cook a fry up but the fact I'm paying for breakfast and don't get it is a major deterrent for B&B's in winter, even for hillwalking you want to be on the hill early and breakfast at 8 or 9am just doesn't work for that.
* Personally don't care about tv's etc but if you do have them, then in the room is better than a communal lounge. I don't think I've ever sat in a communal lounge in a B&B!
* Ensuite - personally not bothered as long as the shower/bathroom is shared between a smallish number. If not en-suite, having the toilet separate from the shower is best to avoid queues.
* Wifi is brilliant but if you don't have it then printing out MWIS, MetOffice + SAIS forecasts is very helpful.
* Ability to provide a packed lunch is useful but not essential.
* A, kettle is always useful in the room.
All the best with the business.
Engage sarcasm filter!
An accommodating hostess.
Big tits & a warm smile.
Only one thing - cheap, that's it. Personally can do with a little bit of mess/untidiness/uncleanliness and have no problem with it being basic, as long as it's CHEAP.
> Internet booking. When there are multiple options the one with online booking will always win over somewhere I need to phone or e-mail to cehck availability.
Yes, agree with this. Online booking is preferable to e-mail and e-mail is preferable to phone-only.
And I agree with whoever mentioned websites: you don't need to have some masterpiece of cutting edge web design, but I generally plan trips via the medium of google, and hence I'm much more likely to go somewhere if they have at least a basic website that tells me where they are, what they have to offer and how much it charges.
Free (safe) parking
Powerful showers with plenty of hot water
Kettle in room and generous supply of tea/coffee etc
Full cooked breakfast
The option of DIY toast/cereal if you need an early start
Somewhere safe I can remove/store muddy boots and wet waterproofs, without making a mess of your carpets.
Free flask filling service at breakfast
Depending on what facilities are available locally, the option of a packed lunch.
Adequate heating, but with thermostat control in bedroom as I can't sleep if I'm too hot.
Curtains (or blinds) which fit the windows.
Daily printed update of MWIS forecast
If nowhere local (within walking distance) to eat, option of booking an evening meal with you
Not bothered about shared common room, or TV
Not important to me but....
Secure storage for skis/bikes
Pickup service from train/bus station (cheaper than a taxi)
We do a lot of scuba diving and the dive centre we stay at usually let us keep the room on, so rather than having to pack up at silly o'clock on Sunday morning we can come back to the room do our packing and (very usefully) get a hot shower before driving south.
I would happily pay a few extra quid for this as it lets you make the most of your last day, and getting a hot shower before driving home means you feel fresher and more awake - also it means whilst you get home later you can simply unpack the car and fall straight into bed. Assuming you don't have anyone using the room the next evening it won't cost you anything (other than a bit of hot water) to provide this for your guests, as there is no need to make up the beds on the last day.
Agreed, this is something that doesn't take much time or effort but really makes me feel like a place cares about walkers and climbers...
Not a B&B, but I once stayed at a bunkhouse in the area which locked its doors at 10:30pm, although they knew we would be travelling from Manchester when they accepted our group's booking. So far as the owner was concerned latecomers would have to sleep in their cars (in February, with no bedding). He also locked the kitchen until 7 am. Unsurprisingly, it shut down not long afterwards.
Place we use regularly has a key code on the door and now they know us just give us the code and tell us which room we are in (leaving the key in the room door), so we can arrive as late as we like. Much better for everyone as they don't live onsite, so it means we don't screw up their evening and can drive up at our leisure after work on a Friday evening.
You need to remember that a b&b is someone's home. It would be very inconsiderate to arrive at a b&b at midnight. If anyone is arriving at this time of night they should be looking at staying in a hotel rather than b&b.
Remember to run the b&b and not let it run you. It's your house so you make the rules.
Also most of your visitors will be non outdoors types, even although you are in the Cairngorms, and especially in summer.
We're not talking about turning up unexpectedly and knocking on the windows here! It's up to the owners to decide what time they consider reasonable for people to arrive, but it's worth pointing out that if they can deal with late arrivals one way or another then it'll be a good thing for their business.
Here's what we want:
Secure bike storage and a drying room.
Un-cluttered decor and bathroom, with hot showers and a heated mirror and decent shaver socket.
Firm clean beds.
Alternatives to cheap sausages and bacon for breakfast.
Disagree. If you want to rock up at midnight you need to book a bunk barn or a hotel with night porter. B&B hosts frequently have to be up at 06h00 to make breakfast for clients and, contrary to popular belief, they do need *some* sleep!!
secure drying room ,HOT showers(did I mention hot?) breakfast up till 10am.comfy arm chair/sofa ,good books ,mags. a large os map on the wall covering a wide area,local knowledge.goes without saying a comfortable bed.no noise after 11pm.NO SALTY porridge...just a few things to consider maybe!!,
> We're not talking about turning up unexpectedly and knocking on the windows here! It's up to the owners to decide what time they consider reasonable for people to arrive, but it's worth pointing out that if they can deal with late arrivals one way or another then it'll be a good thing for their business.
I appreciate that this is your home, but if travelling north for a weekend after work on a Friday night, I'm not going to be getting there for 6pm.
An idea on your website of what time you request guests to arrive by would be helpful and avoid embarrassment/inconvenience for both parties. Better still if you are able to accommodate late arrivals from (pre-booked) guests, it could lead to more bookings from those of us south of the border.
Nobody mentioned the most important point:
A GOOD RACK OF MAGAZINES IN THE TOILET!
We cater predominantly for cyclists but we have climbers and hikers staying with us either side of the cycling season. You made some good points, I think we cover most of these and a few others.
> Clean accommodation
Brecky here is ace - cereal, fresh bread and croissants from the boulangerie EVERY DAY, bananas, fruit (different stuff when in season) Coffee, tea etc etc. We'll have a pan of porridge on the go on those cold spring mornings.
> Not bothered about shared common room, or TV
> Not important to me but....
> Secure storage for skis/bikes
Also. Guided bike rides on most days. Quality hire bikes available.
Laminated maps for self guided rides and I have GPX files of our best rides to download to your Garmin.
<jaw drops> that's why I camp or use huts...
The older I get, the more I think that sort of stuff is worth paying for. I don't mind camping (I'm a Scout Leader, I can hardly avoid it!) but sometimes if you've had a hard day on the hills/crag there is nothing like home comforts.
Well it's horses for courses and that's who we cater for. I don't know any serious cyclists (apart from those weird touring types ;-) who would do 150km through the Alps and be happy to climb into a tent at the end of the day.
I know you don't need one but would you get a proper real live guide included with the gite?
Good point. If you have a website, put the prices on it! Don't ask me to call/ email with dates for a price. (When B&Bs do that, it just leads me to assume they're operating some cynical elastic pricing policy where they look people up and down before plucking a price out of thin air.)
> <jaw drops> that's why I camp or use huts...
Seems like a very fair price to me, for what you get. It's not something I would pay every night for a two week trip, but it would be very nice for a couple of nights.
(P.S. Enty, can't get into your website. Perhaps too much demand from UKCers!)
Talking of huts, I was astonished checking out of one earlier this month to be presented with a bill for €115 for 2 people. It's been a long time since I stayed in one, but I don't remember them being that expensive!
Sounds a good setup you have there and it looks like you've targeted your market really well.
The first thing I look for, and its a must, is that the B&B will accept our dog. These B&Bs do exist but can be hard to find. However, they do tend to get repeat business!
A bloody proper veggie breakfast, not the 'meat' breakfast without the meat! We can see the other folk on the table next to us, with their sausages, bacon, eggs, beans & mushrooms while we get the eggs, beans & mushrooms. Veggie sausages are not hen's teeth, nor is veg bacon! Or give us more hash browns.
(I both wild camp & use B&Bs, especially in winter or mix it up if staying somewhere for a few days, you know, camp, camp, B&B & a wash & someone else cook for you).
Early breakfasts -to make the most of long days in summer
Duvets and comfy beds/pillows
Very good, hot shower
I tend to avoid dog friendly b&bs. As a non dog owner who spends his evenings at home listing to some poor sod of a dog howling its head of in its the little yard round the corner, the last thing I want on our getting-away-from-it break in a b&b is some dog yapping it's head off in the night. The mere possibility puts me off!
I have no idea how common my view is though, or what the ratio of dog owners to non dog owners visiting a walking b&b is.
Clean, good shower, good breakfast, drying room and somewhere to store a bike and/or valuable kit, climbing rack etc
'If you have a website, put the prices on it! Don't ask me to call/ email with dates for a price.'
Seconded. A good clear website with prices, times and other information clearly presented on a single page so you know what you're getting. Some people may enjoy spending hours on the phone or navigating websites to choose a B&B, I don't.
I don't use B&Bs for holidays, but I do stay in a lot of B&Bs for work and would echo most of the points raised as an ideal. My work involves physical labour outside in all weathers with an early start so is a comparible experience to winter climbing and hill walking.
An early breakfast is an essential for me. What I always want, but hardly ever get is a fridge to store food for lunches. Either communal or in the room.
I suppose it comes down to whether the B&B owner has a dog or not.
FWIW I've never been kept awake in any of the dog friendly B&Bs I've stayed in.
and keep your prices up to date.
I hate phoning up to discover the actual price is £10 more than that advertised on the web site.
Don't know if it's been said but:
Keep the room decor simple & don't clutter.
Nice prints or framed maps of the Cairngorms in the shared spaces!
No weird collection of dolls or toby jugs!
May be worth offering more to attract those who will pay more.
For me I'd love:
Chance of an early breakfast
A bath and shower - but especially a bath.
Cosy and welcoming.
Don't get evicted during the day.
For me personally:
Friendly dogs are a plus too ☺
Some way to keep in touch with the weather - wifi or a tv
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