INFORMATION ON ACCOMMODATION IN BRITAIN
At adeo Travel, we understand that you are here in Britain not only to see the sights and visit the landmarks but also to experience the culture and hospitality of our nation. We believe that your overnight accommodation experience should be as much a part of your trip as your daily sightseeing and as such, your lodging each night should reflect the unique character and nature of your destination, Britain.
For this reason on an adeo Travel tour, wherever possible we avoid bland and anonymous highway motels, budget chains, "room factories" and featureless hotels. Our focus is always to provide quality and characterful accommodation with a personal service to match (and tailored to your budget). Many of our hotels are set in historic buildings which retain original architectural features and an authentic local charm. In our portfolio you will find everything from country cottages, terraced townhouses, traditional coaching inns and historic city hotels to opulent country manors and grandiose castles. To ensure a local hospitality and personal service in keeping with the adeo Travel ethos, many of our recommended hotels and all of our B&B accommodations are independently owned and managed.
We also understand that budget can be a concern, but a little character does not have to cost the earth. With everything from chic city centre hotels and luxurious castle accommodations through to family-run B&Bs and homely guest houses, we will always source accommodation to suit both your tastes and your budget.
Understand some of the terminology, protocols, standards and inclusions so that you know just what to expect when you visit Britain on your adeo Travel tour.
Understandably, accommodation in different countries can vary dramatically compared with what we are used to at home. Expected standards, levels of service, what's included in the price and the terminology used can all vary from country to country; a hostel in Thailand will be very different to a gite in France which will offer alternative accommodation to a highway motel in North America or a Castle in the Scottish Highlands! When travelling in a foreign country the selection of lodging can be bewildering; below, we explain some of the terminology, protocols, standards and inclusions so that you know just what to expect when you visit Britain on your adeo Travel tour.
This varies depending on the level of the accommodation in which you are staying and the type of accommodation however most hotels and B&Bs that we recommend on adeo Travel tours would offer the following as standard:
- Hospitality tray (complimentary tea/coffee making facilities in your room)
- Iron and Ironing board (available to borrow from reception where not provided in each room)
- Trouser press Wardrobe or hanging space
- Writing desk
- Toiletries (hand soap, shampoo, shower gel amongst others - British accommodations do not usually provide wash-cloths or flannels which are often present in North American hotels)
- Baths (often with shower over the tub)
- Fresh Towels (changed daily or on request)
- Television with remote control and selection of channels
- Direct-dial telephone
- Adjustable heating
- Additional pillows or blankets on request
Some hotels will offer air-conditioning but this does not come as standard (it is rarely needed in Britain, even in the Summer months).
Some hotels will offer mini-bar contents of which are usually chargeable.
Most hotels and B&Bs offer wired or wifi internet connection; increasingly it is complimentary however at some establishments there is still a charge for using the service.
British hotels do not usually provide wash-cloths which are common in many US hotels, we recommend that you pack your own.
Due to the historic nature and character of many of the hotels that we recommend, room-size and room-shape may vary; losing a little in space is sometimes the price we pay for gaining in terms of character. Room size in hotels in Britain is generally smaller than in the USA and Canada and in London, as in all major cities, space is at a premium and as a result bedroom size, even in top class hotels, can be smaller than in other locations throughout Britain.
The modern traveller generally has a whole host of gadgets and technology that he travels with such as digital cameras, GPS systems, i-pads or tablets, cell-phones, Kindles or electronic books, laptops to name just a few. You will want to stay charged up and connected during your trip so don't forget to bring a suitable adapter! Electricity in Britain is supplied at 220 Volts (50 cycles). Plugs are flat with three pins. An adapter is needed to convert from foreign plugs to the correct British plug size and a transformer is needed to convert American appliances (except for dual-voltage equipment which needs only an adapter). We do not recommend that you bring travel irons and hairdryers as most accommodations will provide these facilities. Adapters and transformers are available to purchase in good hardware or department stores in your home nation or can be purchased at your airports of departure or arrival.
Arrival and Departure
Hotels - Check-in and check-out times will vary at each accommodation but are generally between 2pm and 4pm for check-in and 10am to 12noon for check-out. Bear in mind, if you are coming to the UK from North America you will generally be travelling on an overnight flight arriving in Britain early in the morning. Early check-in can be requested at hotels and guests houses but will not guaranteed and may be subject to the occupancy levels of the hotel the night before. Most accommodations have luggage storage facilities for guests where guests can stow their suitcases prior to check-in, this enables you to grab some breakfast, go for a walk or even begin your sightseeing without having to keep your luggage with you! These facilities are also available upon departure if you are on late flights and need to check out of your rooms in the morning.
Guest Houses - For B&B accommodations you are usually expected to check in between 4pm and 7pm however it is courtesy to contact your hosts the day prior or early on the day of check-in to advise them of your approximate time of arrival - that way they can guarantee that someone will be available for you to let you in and show you around. Most hotels will have a 24 hour reception so can accommodate late check-ins however it would usually be expected that you call ahead if you are going to be arriving particularly late, this reassures the accommodation that you are coming and will not be a "no show". They will often be able to make special arrangements for you in this situation such as keeping the kitchen open for you or preparing a cold snack that can be kept for your arrival if required.
With regard to checking-out, please don't forget to hand-your keys in at reception or to the owner and always check with them that the bill has been settled. Whilst your voucher will usually pay for your accommodation and breakfast any additional drinks, meals, services etc. will be your responsibility. Late check-outs are available at most hotels by request so if you fancy a lie in, don't forget to pre-warn your hosts.
It should be noted that many accommodations in the UK do not provide a dedicated porterage service. A large proportion of our guests choose to stay in small, family-run hotels and B&B accommodations; whilst these establishments offer a welcoming hospitality they have a limited staff and generally do not offer dedicated porters. Reception staff are often willing to help guests with bags but we generally recommend that guests should be able to carry their own luggage if opting to stay in this kind of establishment. Elevators are not present in all accommodations. If you specifically require a porterage service we would recommend that you stay in minimum 4* graded hotel accommodation where a porterage service generally comes as standard. Guests travelling on an escorted coach tour benefit from full porterage of their luggage at accommodations however guests on mini-coach tours are generally expected to take care of their own luggage at each hotel. Those travelling by rail should be able to manage their own luggage and lift bags on and off of trains (usually two or three steps maximum) as porterage is not available at train stations.
With a range of accommodations to choose from sometimes the terminology can be confusing, below we offer a brief glossary of different types of accommodations. Each one has its own range of services and characteristics so it is best to take in to account all factors when deciding what accommodation you want to use for your vacation. Most people choose to stay in a variety of accommodation types during their trip so that they can experience all that Britain has to offer; for example you may opt to enjoy the personal hospitality of a B&B for a couple of nights followed by the creature comforts of larger hotel for a night or two. And of course if you have a special date to celebrate or just want something a little bit special you can select a luxurious spa hotel, country manor or castle hotel...
British B&Bs and Guesthouses
Bed and Breakfast accommodations can be found throughout England, Scotland and Wales. They are generally large family homes or suburban houses where the owners open one or more bedrooms to the public for overnight accommodation and provide a breakfast the next morning, usually in their own dining room or kitchen. The income from renting their rooms is usually supplementary to the owners who may have other jobs or just operate the B&B as a hobby. Guest house accommodation is similar but they tend to be slightly larger with a dedicated breakfast room and are often run as a profit-making business in their own right. In terms of accommodation, guest houses and B&Bs can provide some true gems - pleasant settings, quality accommodation and an unrivalled personal hospitality and service! It should be remembered however, that you are essentially staying in someone's home and the owner's may have their own house-rules, quirks and eccentricities - a degree of acceptance is expected. As B&Bs are not specifically designed for guest accommodation you usually find that their location is suburban or out of town, that room-sizes are smaller than in hotels and that sometimes you are expected to share a bathroom or your private bathroom is located down the hall.
British Hotels and Inns
Hotels and inns are generally larger establishments but can have anything from a handful of guest bedrooms through to several hundred in a large city centre hotel. At adeo Travel, outside of the major cities, we generally recommend small hotels. Hotels differ from B&Bs in that they are developed specifically for the purpose of providing accommodation (and food and drink) for travellers and locals. A hotel will generally offer a guest lounge/lobby area and dedicated reception desk (often open 24hrs in city locations or with overnight porters on hand) to offer extra guest services such as laundry service, concierge service etc. A key feature of hotels and inns is that they will almost always have a bar, lounge-bar or restaurant in which to take evening meals - this is a real bonus for many of our guests as they can enjoy good, local cuisine conveniently in-house after a long day sightseeing. And not forgetting that the bar is a great place in which to relax, sample a regional ale or malt and socialise with the locals. If it's an early night you're after then hotels will also offer services such as room-service and en-suite (in room) bathrooms as standard. As they are dedicated to providing guest accommodation, hotels are often better situated than B&Bs with many in city-centre locations, close to train stations and amongst the pubs, restaurants, sights and attractions of a town or city.
Types of accommodation
Castles and Manors of Britain
A feature of accommodation in Britain is the historic nature of many of the hotels available. Manor Houses and Castle hotels are a great example of this; often historically privately owned family homes of the aristocrats of the past, or developed from other uses such as hospitals, public buildings or Royal ownership, Castle and Manor House Accommodations are set in historic buildings often with decorative or unique architectural features and are usually set within large grounds and gardens. Whilst there are some which provide 3* accommodation, most manors and castle hotels offer more luxury accommodation in keeping with the grandiose nature of the building itself. Many will have spa or leisure facilities in which to relax and unwind and most will also have quality restaurants with well stocked bars. Rooms will usually be spacious and retain original features of the historic building such as feature windows, fire-places or mantles, wood panelling, cornices etc. With excellent levels of hospitality and service reflecting the opulent surroundings, the ambience at these establishments can sometimes be formal but is almost always atmospheric.
Self-Catered Accommodation in the UK
Self-catered accommodation is usually found in countryside cottages or in typical coastal resort towns. In cities it can take the form of apartments or serviced apartments. Basically, self-catered accommodation means that you are provided with only accommodation and any additional meals such as breakfast are not included. The cottage or apartment would usually be equipped with a functioning kitchen or kitchenette containing crockery, cooking utensils, a stove, sink and refrigerator allowing you to prepare your own meals. Guests are not only expected to provide their own food but often also their own bedding, towels, toiletries etc. Self-catered accommodation is usually designed for larger groups of four or more people and normally carries a minimum rental period (often a week), especially through the summer high season. In cities, serviced apartments would still have their own kitchen facilities but are more like hotels in that they often have a staffed reception area and would provide towels, bedding etc. These establishments however are only usually cost effective when you book for extended periods and when staying for just a couple of nights their pricing is often comparable with a similar standard hotel which will also provide guests with breakfast each morning. Self-catering is an excellent option if you are spending several weeks in the UK and intend on staying in one area or base for a significant portion of time but are not always convenient or cost effective for touring holidays.
Here in the UK we operate a star grading system (similar to those in other countries) which rates each accommodation on a basis of their service, quality of accommodation and their range of facilities and then grades them with a number of stars from 1 to 5 (one being poorest and five being best). Simple!
However it should be noted that the ratings can be awarded by any number of bodies including national tourist authorities (Visit Britain, Enjoy England, Visit Wales and Visit Scotland) or independent rating bodies (such as the AA or RAC), though they do all work under agreed criteria.
In recent years, to confuse matters further additional categories of accommodation have been introduced such as "Small Hotel" and "Specialist Accommodation", each with their own rating systems. The important thing to note is that there are different criteria for B&Bs, Guest Houses and Small Hotels compared with traditional or larger hotel accommodations; a 5 star B&B may offer elements of luxury but will not be comparable, in terms of range of service, to a 5 star hotel. The rating of B&Bs is focussed more on quality and customer care as opposed to the availability of additional facilities and services as is the case for hotels. Some awarding bodies, rate B&Bs with diamonds instead of stars to make this distinction clear.
Below we demonstrate the broad outline of criteria required for an accommodation to gain their star rating:
1* - Polite and courteous staff and informal yet competent service. The majority of rooms are en-suite and there is a designated eating area with a reasonable choice of food available.
2* - Smartly presented staff provide competent, often informal, service. All rooms are en-suite and have a TV. There is at least one restaurant or dining room with a good selection of food and wine available.
3* - Staff are skilled in responding to guests' needs, with a dedicated receptionist on duty. All rooms provide en-suite bathrooms and have remote-control TV and direct-dial telephone. There is a restaurant open to residents and their guests and a bar or lounge serving drinks.
4* - Staff provide a formal and professional service anticipating and responding to guests' needs. Reception is staffed 24 hours a day, with porters available on request. Bedrooms offer superior quality and comfort than at the three-star level; en-suite bathrooms have high-quality toiletries. Services such as porterage, 24-hour room service, laundry and dry-cleaning will be available, and the restaurant demonstrates a serious approach to cuisine.
5* - Staff must be attentive, professional and provide flawless guest service. Accommodation throughout the hotel is spacious and luxurious, with impressive interior design and immaculate furnishings. En suite rooms offer exceptional quality and provide extras such as bath sheets and robes and an evening turn-down service. The restaurant produces dishes created with a high level of technical skill, complemented by superior wines.
B&B / Guest House Ratings:
1 Diamond - Friendly, professional check-in and check-out, comfortable rooms equipped to modern standards with furniture and soft furnishings in good condition. Bedding and towels changed for each new guest and at least weekly if the room is taken for a long stay. Rooms to have adequate storage, heating, lighting and a sufficient hot water supply and breakfast to be full cooked or advertised as continental only.
2 Diamond - In addition to everything detailed for one diamond, two diamond properties should also offer a sound overall level of quality and customer care in all areas.
3 Diamond - In addition to what is provided at two diamond level you will also see a good overall level of quality; for example, good quality, comfortable bedrooms, well maintained, practical decor, a good choice of quality items available for breakfast, quality other meals where provided, a good degree of comfort provided for you, with good levels of customer care offered by staff.
4 Diamond - In addition to what is provided at three diamond level the accommodation will also offer a very good overall level of quality in all areas and customer care showing very good levels of attention to customer needs.
5 Diamond - In addition to what is provided at four diamond level you can also expect an excellent overall level of quality such as ample space with a degree of luxury, an excellent quality bed, high quality furniture, excellent interior design, breakfast offering a wide choice of high quality fresh ingredients, other meals, where provided, featuring fresh, seasonal local ingredients, excellent levels of customer care where owners anticipate your needs.
Using Ratings as a guide…
Whilst it is a great guide to the general level of accommodation that you want to stay in for your vacation, at adeo Travel we recommend that you do not use it as your definitive benchmark for selecting your accommodation. An establishment must tick each box in terms achieving its rating and if an excellent 2* hotel does not offer, for example, a direct dial telephone in one of its rooms, it may not achieve its third star or if an excellent 4* hotel cannot install an elevator to reach some of its rooms and it may miss out on its fifth star even though it reaches all other criteria. Each establishment must also pay to undergo an assessment (often annually), which means that some excellent accommodations (B&Bs especially), simply don't go to the trouble and expense of having themselves officially rated. This is where our expertise come in! Simply let us guide you and make recommendations for your overnight stays – we'll seek out the best options based on your preferences.
Whilst review sites such as Trip Advisor also offer some insight in to general standards of many accommodations, again we do not recommend over-reliance on such sites when selecting or assessing accommodation choices. It should be remembered that reviews are often coloured by pre-conceived expectation; it is not rare to see 2* B&Bs or bog-standard "room factory" hotel-chains leap-frog quality establishments as a result of the their surpassing the client's already held low-price/low-expectation whilst other more appealing accommodations are down-graded by their more discerning and demanding clientele. And not to be forgotten is that the different aspects work for different people - the creaky floorboard of the 18th century hotel which irritates the English Businessman might be just the character that you're looking for in a British Hotel, or the distance from the nightlife complained about by one reviewer might be just the peaceful retreat you're looking for before a day's sightseeing.
Use our expertise…
One of the benefits of booking with adeo Travel is that we have visited, personally inspected, often stayed in, or at least been personally recommended the vast majority of the hotels and accommodations that we use. We can get to know you and discuss and advise accommodation based on your own preferences. We provide you not only with the tangible facts of what an accommodation has to offer but can also give you a personal insight in to whether the hotel or guest house will suit your specific vacation needs and preferences. A rating system will not tell you whether the pub on the corner serves a good real ale, whether the owner has an interest in local history or if the hotel is just a 5 minute drive from that castle you wanted to visit. We will!
Confused by words or phrases that you've seen when reading about our tours, hotels or in your quotation? Below we explain some of the common terms and phrases that we use when describing accommodation in Britain:
Bedrooms in British Hotels
Double Room - A guest room for two people containing one double bed to be shared, usually booked by couples travelling together.
Twin Room - A guest room for two people containing two separate single beds, usually booked by friends or companions travelling together. It is rare for twin rooms in the UK to have two double beds in a twin room.
Single Room - A guest room for one person usually containing one single bed. If a hotel does not have any single bedded rooms they may offer a double room or a twin room for single occupancy but this almost always carries a significant under occupancy supplement.
Triple Room - A guest room designed for three people. This room may contain a double and a single bed or three separate single beds. If you are three friends and do not want to share a double then please specify when booking that you require three separate beds.
Triple rooms with three separate beds are not common-place in British hotels so booking as far in advance as possible is recommended to secure availability.
Family Room - A room suitable for two adults and one, two or more children. British hotels generally have very few family rooms so, again, they should be booked well in advance. Family rooms may contain bunk beds or rollaway beds which are suitable for children only and some hotels have an age limit on the children that can be accommodated. Families travelling with older children or teenagers are advised to book two separate rooms.
Interconnecting Rooms - These are two separate bedrooms with separate doors on the corridor but which also have an interconnecting door between the two rooms. This is a solution for families when a family room is not available. Adjacent Rooms - Two rooms located next door to each other. There is no interconnecting door but some parents of older teenagers are more comfortable knowing that their children are located in the next room and that they can check on them if required.
Bathrooms in Hotels in the UK
En-suite Bathroom - Your room has a private bathroom accessible from within your bedroom.
Private Bathroom - You have a bathroom which is for your sole use however it is not directly accessible from your bedroom. It may be adjacent or you may have to go down the corridor to your bathroom.
Shared Bathroom - Your washroom facilities will be located down the corridor and will be shared by other residents (usually another one or two rooms) of your hotel/B&B.
Board Basis at UK Hotels
Bed and Breakfast Basis (B&B) - This means that your overnight accommodation and breakfast the following morning are included in your stay. This is usually booked as standard on adeo Travel vacations.
Half Board or Dinner, Bed & Breakfast (DBB) - This means that your evening meal is included as well as your overnight accommodation and breakfast the next morning. Some hotel restaurants may operate set menus for guests staying on a DBB basis or may charge supplements for certain dishes (such as steak).
Room Only - Accommodation only is included with no meals - breakfasts where available would carry a supplement paid directly to the establishment.
Full Board - This is where overnight accommodation, breakfast, lunch and dinner meals are all included in the price. This board basis is extremely rare for British hotels unless booked as part of a residential course or business/training event where the client will be spending significant periods of time based at the hotel.
Breakfasts at British Hotels
Full English/Scottish/Welsh/Regional Breakfast - This is a traditional British breakfast which is usually a cooked meal and consists of some or all of the following: sausage, bacon, eggs, black pudding, fried mushrooms, fried tomatoes, baked beans, toast, fried bread. You may find that there are regional variations such as haggis in Scotland, some cooked fish such as kippers or local speciality sausages. Your cooked breakfast is almost always available alongside a lighter continental option (see below).
Continental breakfast - This is a light breakfast usually consisting of one or more of the following: cereals with milk, toast with preserves (jams, marmalades etc.), pastries, croissants, yoghurts, cheese and cold meats, eggs, selection of fresh or tinned fruit.
Buffet Breakfast - Can offer hot and/or cold options on a buffet service basis whereby you are seated in the breakfast room but then help yourself to your food from the buffet. Continental options are almost always on a buffet basis. Cooked to Order - Where full cooked breakfasts are served they can be cooked to order, which means that your order is taken by a waiter/waitress and the meal is prepared and plated before being brought to you at your table.
Evening meals at British Hotels
A la Carte Menu - A restaurant menu offering a full choice of starters, mains and desserts. Most restaurants operate an a la carte menu in their restaurant for both residents and visitors. If you book on a dinner, bed and breakfast basis you will usually have a choice from the a la carte menu however there may be small supplements for some dishes such as fish specials or steak dishes.
Table d'Hote Menu - Often provided for larger groups, this is a smaller menu usually with a choice of just three or four dishes for each course. The main course options would usually include a choice of different meats or fish and a vegetarian option. Tea or coffee is usually served as standard (included) on a table d'hote menu.
Set Menu - Again often used when catering for larger groups, a set menu consists of a fixed menu (one starter, one main and one dessert) with no choices. Vegetarians and people with specific dietary requirements should advise the group leader in advance if they are aware that they will be dining somewhere with a set menu so that an alternative can be prepared.
Buffet Meal - Again, buffets are usually provided by hotels when catering for large groups. The buffet can be hot or cold and usually offers a selection of dishes for each course, the only real difference being that you go and collect your own food at your pace as opposed to receiving a table/waiter service.
Lunch Meals at British Hotels
Lunches are rarely included at hotels within their standard accommodation rates however establishments with a bar or restaurant will almost always provide lunchtime meals. Separate lunch-menus (not available at evening service) are often provided consisting of a selection of sandwiches, salads and lighter snacks and meals. Lunchtime menus/service are sometimes limited to a set time-frame (often from midday until 2pm or 3pm) so always check if you plan to eat lunch at your hotel.
Afternoon Tea at British Hotels
Some accommodations provide traditional afternoon teas, a light snack or meal consisting of tea with milk, light sandwiches and a selection of cakes or scones. Afternoon tea is traditionally available around 3-4pm between lunch and evening dinner.
Bed Types and Sizes
Most UK hotels and B&Bs will provide standard UK sized beds which can vary from sizing in other countries.
Double beds - A UK standard double bed is 54 inches by 75 inches. This can be smaller than bed sizes that people are used to in the US and Canada. You may prefer to choose a twin room with two singles beds which can generally be pushed together.
Single beds - A standard UK single bed is 36 inches by 75 inches. Single rooms will usually contain a single bed whilst single occupancy rooms will contains a standard double bed but for use by one person.
King Beds - A standard UK Kingsize bed measures 60 inches by 78 inches (this is the same as a US Queen bed). Please note that few hotels have King Beds as standard and they are usually only found in Superior or Executive room-types however even upgraded rooms in many establishments still have standard double beds.
Super King Beds - A standard UK Super King Size bed is 72 inches by 78 inches (the same size as a US King Bed). These are rarely found anywhere in British hotels and if so are usually only in specialist accommodations which carry a premium.
More information and guides from our Britain experts.
Rail travel in Britain
Essential Travel Information on Britain's Rail Network, including the Britrail Pass and Airport Transfers.
Cities and towns
Our guides to the cities and towns of England, Scotland and Wales. From history and prominence of the capital cities of London, Cardiff and Edinburgh to the Victorian grandeur of Bath.
We provide a range of passes and tickets to commbine with your tour including the Scottish Heritage Pass, Cadw Heritage Pass (Wales) and a range of City Sightseeing tours.
Our destination guide to Britain and the nations of England, Scotland and Wales. Explore the geography, history and character of our country along with our take on the key places to see and do.