Glenegedale house – UK’s friendliest B&B?
Recently awarded UK’s friendliest B&B of the year award by the AA, Glenegedale house boasts four individually designed, en-suite bedrooms with sumptuous fabrics, roaring fires and beautiful antiques and has a prominent position with uninterrupted breath-taking views over the Mull of Oa and out to the Atlantic. Hosts Graeme and Emma share their story with us.
Can you tell us a bit about your lives prior to running Glenegedale House and the decision behind becoming B&B hosts.
Graeme and I both trained in hospitality management at university, however Graeme pursued this career in hospitality management with his latter job being a vocational assessor in hospitality covering all of Scotland while I decided to move into the world of pharmaceuticals. I was travelling a lot and away from home more and more and with our two young children it meant I was missing out on some of their milestones. I am from Islay and we would holiday ourselves here at least four times a year so we decided to make the move across and Glenegedale House was just perfect to start out own business and build it into a very successful Five Star Gold guesthouse with scope to grow the business in the future.
How will you ensure that the very high standard you have set yourselves is maintained?
This is very easy, both Graeme and I have a keen eye for detail and commitment and this makes sure that our high standard of cleanliness, service and accommodation are always met. We both would hate to let any guest down when they choose to come and stay with us. This can be difficult as we have set a very high bar and with reviews being so easily written, found and used it is imperative that we maintain and actually grow this standard. We have many repeat guests and over the months and years it takes them to go back they can build their experience up in their minds so we aim to always have something new for them to find and enjoy when they are here. When guests read our reviews it sets their mind and expectations on how Glenegedale house and Graeme and myself will be and we cannot afford to have any bad days as each guest has worked hard, planned and looked forward to their holiday and that one moment can make such a difference to their time here with us so we make sure that we ourselves are always on top form and ready to help in any way we can.
In your opinion what part of running a B&B do you find the most challenging?
The most challenging aspect is the long hours. Graeme and I each work well over 100 hours each week. We start our day at 4.45/5am each day so we can slow cook the porridge and have fresh breads and baking ready for the guests coming in for breakfast each morning. These long hours are rewarding as it means each guest has a fantastic time here at Glenegedale house, however these unseen hours can mean you get a little tired some days.
What do you think makes a guest room extra special?
This is the most simple thing to provide. It has to be spotless – not just clean but I mean not a spec of dust or dirt and that is the most fundamental part of having a five star guest house. In my mind it should be like each room was newly renovated for each guest. We use the very best of products, linens are all pure Egyptian cotton, wall coverings are all hand printed in Glasgow, the chocolates are from the famous Highland Chocolatier, the teas and coffee are from the Edinburgh coffee company, the toiletries are all The White Company the beds are top quality, fabrics are all from Mills in Scotland and the furniture is all beautifully kept antiques. No expense should be spared for the redecoration of a room.
Tell us about your breakfasts – do you use local produce?
Our breakfasts are probably what we are most famous for. We try to use as much local produce as possible and then go further afield but always as close geographically as possible. At Glenegedale House we pride ourselves that guests enjoy true highland hospitality at its best. You have our assurance to excellence in food sourcing, preparation, cooking and serving.
Should any of our guests have dietary requirements we encourage them to make us aware of any allergies or particular dislikes of foods in advance so that we may do our best to form menus accordingly.
Breakfast comprises of dishes from our sideboards including plums poached in Cinnamon and Vanilla, Pears poached in star Anais, cloves, cinnamon, root ginger, vanilla and lemon zest, Home grown Rhubarb with a hint of ginger, apples poached in blackcurrant and cinnamon, pure fruit juices, wedges of fresh pineapple, melon, yogurt, pink grapefruit, fresh oranges, prunes, figs, physalises, kiwi halves, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, a selection of other seasonal fresh fruits, homemade granola and a selection of cereals. From the kitchen is offered porridge with a little jug of cream (and a secret ingredient served on the side) and to follow either Argyll smoked salmon (hot and cold smoked) with homemade brown bread and butter and a wedge of lemon or guests may prefer a plated selection of fine cheeses served with fresh fruits, chutney and oatcakes or indeed guests can enjoy a full highland breakfast consisting of Ayrshire bacon, locally made sausages, Ramsay of Carluke haggis, our own completely free range eggs, tomato, Heinz beans and mushrooms.
This is accompanied by tea, coffee and brown or white toast. There is traditional ground or decaffeinated coffee and Earl Grey, herbal and traditional teas. The jams and marmalades are homemade and are delicious with our freshly baked breads and muffins in the morning.
Have you ever had any bizarre/unusual requests from guests?
Not sure I can say….we have had several, however our poker face is always in action for these……breast milk handed to me in bags to be frozen as the lady was away from her baby was one! Lettuce to put in a gentleman’s porridge, raspberry jam on poached eggs recently was another.
Lastly, what advice would you give to anybody thinking of starting up a B&B business?
Errrmmmmmm well…….. the biggest compliment we get is when someone says “I think I may run a bed and breakfast like this when i retire as a wee hobby” – It is not easy and is really hard work however…..so rewarding meeting so many lovely guests and becoming so well known for being so friendly and helpful whilst having a brilliant bed and breakfast. Would I say to “do it?” I would say stay in a guest house for a few days and really think about what is going on behind the scenes. We love it!