Room for Improvement – Making the Most of Your Bedrooms
Jenny Dixon’s (Hilden Style Guide) insightful article in the August edition of Innkeeper Magazine detailed how our smaller independent hotels are transforming their tired, old-fashioned guest rooms into ‘affordable luxury havens’, splashing out on the best beds, bringing bath tubs into the bedrooms, and injecting a vibrant often quirky décor to create that all important ‘wow’ factor to tempt people to stay. And, it’s not before time as guest’s expectations are higher than ever, they expect all the comforts of home and more to ensure their time away is memorable.
This exciting and developing trend is brilliant for Britain’s hospitality business and it’s true to say that our boutique pubs with rooms are now challenging country house hotels for design, comfort and attention to detail but often offer better value for money.
Boutique or not…?
However, going boutique or top end with your room offering may not be the best option for your pub with rooms. You must look at your location and understand your market, whether it’s suitable for boutique rooms or more simple accommodation. Boutique rooms are capital intensive, requiring significant investment in each room, greater attention to detail with top-notch housekeeping, with guests demanding great service and a decent food offering. The returns will be greater but only if you get the offer right. Finally, if you go the boutique route make sure both pub and rooms complement each other – invest in quality design downstairs as well as upstairs.
What makes me smile…
First impressions really count, so a big welcome from friendly, informative staff is very important. If arriving after dark, especially after a long journey, we wish to enter a warm room, with curtains drawn, lamps switched on, and digital radios switched on to Classic FM – always soothing and a nice touch.
High on the room ‘essentials’ list is a quality bed topped with the best linen and duvets to ensure a comfortable night’s sleep, and a great shower with a generous supply of top toiletries. Cossetting extras that make me smile are two easy chairs (if there’s room), decent tea, fresh coffee and milk and homemade biscuits, a clock, a good information pack (food times/sample menus/local information); up-to-date magazines, plenty of plug sockets, free wi-fi, and a shaving mirror in the bathroom.
Finally, however good the food is at dinner, the guests last memory of their stay is breakfast, so make it equally special by offering an imaginative buffet choice and an interesting selection of cooked dishes. Ban the cereal boxes, cheap sliced bread and packet butter and jams, and bring out the warm croissants and pastries, home or locally made preserves and the big bowls of compote and fruit salad.
What makes an Inn Places inn
InnPlaces.co.uk features the best boutique inns and the Michelin starred pubs with rooms, where the quality of the rooms matches that of the fabulous food, but the website also showcases some brilliant coaching inns and more traditional pubs with cosy rooms that ooze simple country-house charm.
We invite inn owners to become members of Inn Places and join our club of passionate, like-minded operators – the Inn Club. Each inn is visited, often involving an overnight stay, so we can assess every facet of the business. We then craft a detailed web entry following discussions with the owner and the head chef, who also provide us with information on local artisan producers and suppliers for the Food Trail.
We do look for rooms with a ‘wow’ factor that will draw guests back time and again, but also for a winning combination of wonderful food and wine, comfortable bedrooms, relaxing drinks beside blazing log fires or a glorious garden for summer, and a genuine welcome from hands-on owners. Also important and high on our wish list are good local, seasonal or organic food, enthusiastic staff, excellent housekeeping, and inns that brim with individual charm and character.
Founder of Inn Places