Travelling with children can be expensive and tricky. And depending on the ages of the kids, certain issues - babysitting, cots, large rooms, breakfast times which start early - can become surprisingly important.
|Outside Becketts B&B|
But if you are looking for something a little different, and possibly, even a little bit cheaper than a hotel, we would recommend a Bed and Breakfast (or B&B).
We have always been fans of B&Bs even before we had children. When we holidayed regularly in America, we used our travel books (this was pre-internet) to search out recommended B&Bs, and hoped for friendly, informed hosts and delicious breakfast treats. We always got these and for far cheaper than a hotel. In fact, I still remember staying in a wonderful B&B in Newport Rhode Island which also served fresh cookies and sherry for tea every afternoon (all included in the price of course).
B&Bs faded away slightly once we had young children, not least because you become extremely conscious of noise when you are staying in someone's house! However, it was also because of course it meant that you had to go out to eat for supper, which was not always suitable with youngsters. Now the children are 12 and 9 (today - happy birthday Robert!) we love them again. In fact we have loved them again for quite some years. Let me tell you why.
1) The personal touch
Most B&B owners aren't part of a bigger corporation or chain - they do it to earn money and because they enjoy it. This means they really care about their guests' experience, from the breakfast (more on that below) to ensuring that that any information given is up to date and helpful. They rely on good reviews and word of mouth to survive.
2) A delicious breakfast
Hotel breakfasts can be delicious, but are often extremely expensive. At a B&B they are, of course, included, and cooked to order. You will often find all kinds of tempting goodies on offer, including homemade granola or bread, home-grown fruit salad, or delicious freshly poached eggs and sausages. You will rarely go away hungry and the service, because it's not for hundreds of guests, is good.
Bed and Breakfasts are nearly always good value - though that doesn't mean they are cheap. Always ring up to find out about the latest offers, and note that not only is breakfast included, with parking often is too.
4) Charm and originality
A Bed and Breakfast is not usually a purpose-built building. Instead you may be staying in anything from a converted barn to an historic manor house(even a castle) or semi-detached home!
5) The opportunity to live like a local
Wherever you go, if you stay in a B&B, you are staying in somebody's home. What better way to find out what it's really like to be in that city - to discover local customs and the best local places to eat.
6) An intimate experience
You won't be sharing your stopover with hundreds of others, which can make it particularly special (and, if you leave the kids at home, even romantic).
You might be surprised to find that unlike many hotels, lots of B&Bs have interconnecting rooms for families (read more to find out why I love these types of room). If they don't offer this, then they may have huge family rooms, which are often far more appealing or better suited to the kids than a hotel.
We search for B&Bs whenever we are travelling in the UK and have been extremely lucky with rooms and food (we always warn that we don't eat meat and often arrive to find delicious veggie sausages on offer). We do check tripadvisor for reviews (although that's a dangerous road to travel as someone will always find something negative to say!) and are very rarely disappointed. I can only remember one time in Banbury when the family room was so tiny we were nearly on top of each other as we slept.
That's not to say that B&Bs are for everyone, especially if you are not one for chatting (the flipside of the personal touch) and don't want to share your breakfast table with other guests. In other words, if you are a tad anti-social...
Always ring up to find out about prices, rooms and offers. When we went to Kent a few weeks ago, we stayed in a lovely B&B called Becketts in Edenbridge, near Hever Castle. It was particularly exciting for us as the children stayed in a (gorgeous) room which was entirely separate from ours. We felt properly grown-up (and so did they).
|The children's room|
Becketts was particularly lovely because, as a converted 300 year old barn, it was genuinely full of character. Our room even had a four poster bed! We also all enjoyed a truly delicious breakfast (toast, poached egg, tomatoes and veggie sausages for us, juice, cereal, toast, mushrooms and more for the kids).
|Our four poster bed!|
The children's room (which is called the garden twin) is also able to have an an extra temporary bed or cot and prices vary between £85 - £100 for two people depending on midweek/weekend and length of stay.
|Jess and Rob on the couch in their room|
Read our posts:
In praise of interconnecting rooms
A visit to Hever Castle (just 5 minutes from our B&B!)
You can find out more about Kent from the Visit Kent website.
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Labels: B&B, Bed and breakfast, Family Holidays, Kent