Andy and Julian Banner-Price have spent a small fortune on providing their guests with comfy beds, hi-tech gadgets and power showers. But it is the smaller details that visitors to the 25 in Torquay tend to comment on: the personal greeting at the door on arrival, the handwritten notes of welcome in the rooms, Andy’s baked goodies that await after a hard day’s sightseeing.
Though the B&B – newly crowned the world’s best – is closed at the moment for a winter break, the couple were there on Tuesday getting ready for their first visitors of 2019, who will arrive next month. Andy was busy preparing beds while Julian was up a ladder dusting light fittings.
They received news of their accolade towards the end of a rather trying redecorating session. “It hadn’t been a brilliant day,” said Andy. “It was a pretty big shock. We had to sit down.”
No 25 Avenue Road is an Edwardian building a few minutes’ walk from the waterfront. When they took it over, it had 10 bedrooms. They knocked walls down and added others in to create six larger, much more luxurious rooms. They thought carefully about the position of every plug socket, every light, every bin. One of their own bugbears when they visited another hotel or B&B, they said, was that teabag-dripping walk from the kettle to the waste basket.
If they were shocked at the recognition, their customers weren’t. “Not a surprise at all,” said Simon Bexx, a company director who has visited three times with his wife, Jenny. “I was at a big hotel in Mayfair recently but The 25 was better than that. It’s spotless, they couldn’t do more for you. The attention to detail is just amazing.”
Online reviews are just as positive. One contented visitor, Emily Jenkins, said she had asked if there was a different kind of pillow available and was impressed when Andy produced not one alternative but an “array” for her to choose from.
Other happy guests rave about features ranging from the heated bathroom mirrors that do not mist up to the online tutorial for the whizzy coffee machines.
Not quite anyone is welcome, however. The B&B is for adults only and just one pet is allowed: Andy and Julian’s dog, a miniature schnauzer called Patsy.
The Banner-Prices arrived on the English Riviera after spending seven years running a successful country house hotel in north Wales. They fell in love with the feel of The 25 and were not put off by the association of Torquay with the sitcom Fawlty Towers or by outdated notions of what a B&B is.
Andy said he had always enjoyed John Cleese and Connie Booth’s BBC sitcom and the pair relished showing visitors that English seaside B&Bs were not all about paper-thin walls and strict curfews. “We love to convert people to the idea of the B&B,” he said.
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