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Historic B&B business is a hit with the national press!
Happy new year! Hope you had a great one. We've had a fantastic start to 2019, with our 10 bed guest house property, The Old Parsonage in Farrington Gurney , near Bristol, featuring in The Sunday Times Home on Sunday 6th January. This is another great result for this business, which we also placed in The Week magazine in December last year.
UPDATE: This B&B was in the national press again on 29th January, featured in The Metro. Read the article by clicking here.
Sunday Times Home piece January 2019
Taking centre stage in The Week, December 2018
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Room to Celebrate!
A new home evokes hopes for happy gatherings of friends and family, especially at Christmastime. So we asked the owners of five of our houses currently on the market to share pictures of the main rooms they use for the festive season, to help you imagine you and yours there in years to come
This elegant townhouse in one of Somerset's most fashionable towns has a large ground floor drawing room with plenty of room for kids to play with presents and adults to lounge on sofas, Baileys in hand!
Celebrate in an 'upside down' house where the stairs from the entrance lead to the spacious sitting room upstairs where glazed double doors overlook an amazing view of the Mendips.
This impressive Victorian farmhouse has 5 beds and a 2 bed annexe - giving you plenty of room to host a large family get-together, using the dining room as your main celebratory room.
Tastefully decorated, you'll only need to add some sparkle to create a stylish Christmas scene.
The Old Vicarage is hidden from the road so gives you plenty of privacy and seclusion - and means you can make lots of noise come Christmas and New Year's Eve.
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Hampton Cottage, Evercreech
Find out what the owners of this pretty Grade II listed, Somerset home enjoy most about living there.
Hampton Cottage, Evercreech, near Bruton in Somerset
Tell us how you felt when you first viewed this house
Well, we've lived in Hampton Cottage for 39 years so that should tell you everything you need to know! From the moment my husband and I and our young daughter first walked in, we felt very happy, like we'd been wrapped in a secure, comforting blanket. It was only later that we learned from several surprise elderly visitors that it had been a halfway house for Dr Barnado's children. Here they'd found the same harmonious presence that we have.
The cosy kitchen
Tell us more about why this house is so special
This is a Grade II ancient building, the original cottage being some 300 years old. The Georgian style, Victorian frontage was added 100 years later. Over the years we have hugely improved the building, bringing it into the 21st century whilst being mindful of retaining its character and original features but there, of course, remains the opportunity for further changes to be made to suit individual tastes. There are different floor levels which reflect the two ages of the property with low, cosy rooms to the rear and lofty Victorian rooms to the front. It stands in a large walled garden that is extremely safe for pets and we have developed it into manageable areas that are planted with a variety of perennials and shrubs with a lovely pond under the shade of mature trees to sit beside and mull over the meaning of life!! We use the large south facing conservatory throughout the year and an ancient vine provides an amazing crop of black dessert grapes.
The owners of Hampton Cottage have created manageable areas in the large garden
What do you treasure most about living here?
It has to be the fantastic outlook across the extensive dairy farmed fields to the front with the rolling hills of the Mendips as a backdrop. An Iron Age fort stands atop the hill at Chesterblade slightly to the east and this is a local beacon point.
The south-facing conservatory has an ancient vine growing in the roof, providing a crop of black dessert grapes
What about the location?
The road that runs to the front of the property is a great asset because it gives you easy access to all the major routes north, south, east and west without having to negotiate narrow country lanes. Bath and Bristol are nearby. We came here from the South East and found that getting into central London was an easier and faster drive from here than the 45 mile distance from our home in Sussex!!! An alternative is the main line link to Paddington from Castle Cary just 5 miles away.
And the village?
It's is a tight knit, strong community that offers something for everyone with a wide variety of clubs, societies and activities of all types for all ages. The selection of local shops are great and both the pubs provide excellent places to meet, eat and sleep.
The rear view of Hampton Cottage
Where are you going now?
Such is our love of the immediate area and its environs that we will not be moving far away! A car accident some weeks ago has forced us to carefully consider our future meaning that we now need a smaller, single storey home and that is the only reason that we are leaving our much loved family home.
This house is currently off the market April 2019
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What it's really like living in: Hornbeam Lane, near Frome
We enjoy selling beautiful Somerset homes and are thrilled when the new homeowners collect the keys and move in. But sometimes we don't hear from them again. So we were so pleased to hear from a new occupant of our Hornbeam Lane development in Leigh on Mendip. Here's what she said:
"I was delighted to find this amazing development of just 7 individual houses in Leigh on Mendip. I can’t believe I have found this fantastic home and everything it has to offer!
The perfect location near Frome, Wells and Bath and yet surrounded by stunning countryside, with beautiful views from every window.
The house is superb with the attention to detail second to none. The standard of finish is of the highest quality and careful consideration has been given to every need of the homeowner.
There is a local pub within walking distance which has a friendly atmosphere and good standard of delicious home cooked food at a reasonable price.
These houses are a gem of a find!"
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How we made our business boom!
Charlotte and Brian Murray run the highly-rated B&B, The Old Parsonage in Farrington Gurney, Somerset, which has 5 stars on Trip Advisor. They moved to the area 11 years ago, for family reasons, but now circumstances have changed they are looking to pass the fruits of their hard work onto the right people… To help find the next owners, we asked Charlotte what she thought the 5 tips to building a successful guest house business are and why their property is such a find…
The Old Parsonage, Farrington Gurney
Do it for the right reasons.
“We started running B&Bs in 1987 when property was going bananas" begins Charlotte, "and I wondered how we could buy a much nicer family home than we could afford. By running a B&B I realised we could put lots of the costs against the business.” You can also choose when you want to work and also put your other skills to good use, like marketing or catering, as she explains: “I had cooked professionally and offered suppers when I began.” We assume she was also a dab hand at cooking breakfasts too!
The breakfast table
Choose or create the right flow– for you
“It’s very important to create the right layout for your own convenience,” says Charlotte, “so that you can separate your family life from guests.” One of the big advantages of The Old Parsonage is that it has two staircases, so that one never has to overlap with the other. “If I want to go to the kitchen in the middle of the night, for example, I can just slip down the back stairs” says Charlotte.
There are two staircases in The Old Parsonage
Bathrooms are essential
“Nowadays everyone is looking for the facilities of a hotel – so shared bathrooms are a no-no. “ says Charlotte. The couple were lucky with The Old Parsonage as this listed building, which had once been owned by The Duchy of Cornwall, had an unusually large number of bathrooms – three ensuite with the five bedrooms upstairs and a separate but sole-use bathroom for a studio guest room downstairs. There are also bathrooms with the four annexe rooms in the grounds.
Three of the five bedrooms in the main house are ensuite
Location is paramount
Being slap-bang in a busy area for visitors and your own family life is important emphasises Charlotte: “When we first moved here Brian was still working abroad quite a lot, so he needed to be near an airport and this is only 25 minutes away.” The Old Parsonage is set-back from the A37 which has proved invaluable for bookings. “It’s is a winner” she explains, “because you also have passing trade for those travelling down to Devon and Cornwall from the Midlands. It’s also located at the centre of a perfect triangle between Bath, Bristol and Wells (all about 15-20 minutes away), so there is so much on the doorstep for guests to do.”
Keep your online presence up-to-date
“We keep the website and Facebook page fresh with all the festivals and food and drink events in the area,” says Charlotte – and in Somerset there are many, which further adds to the attraction of staying here. It’s also important to be listed on booking sites like Booking.com (the biggest and best according to Charlotte) as they will always rank higher than your own website on Google – so they find you there and then go to your own social media for further info.
The Old Parsonage has annexes in outbuildings for further guest accommodation
3 WAYS TO TOP TRIP ADVISOR
- Make sure everything works every day, the whole time - Reviewers will mark you down if the facilities are not up to scratch.
- Make sure you excel in all the review criteria - On sites like Booking.com, guests receive lists with tick boxes as reviews, on Trip Advisor they receive a blank box. To ensure you get great reviews, make sure you are 10/10 for all of the choices they receive.
- Ensure your hosting is beyond brilliant - Charlotte and Brian regularly receive rave reviews about their hosting. They give their visitors a warm welcome with a cup of tea and plenty of details about the varied history of the house, which was once visited by Edward VIII. The Murrays are also always a mine of information the local area, which always impresses guests. To read the reviews click here