We caught up with Lynn Ruse from Barclay Farmhouse in Biddenden, about what makes a stay there so special.
Congratulations on being nominated for one of our Hidden Gems and Star Amongst Stars awards in our upcoming eviivo awards. What does being nominated for this award mean to you?
It means a great deal as I enjoy my job and I enjoy meeting people. I do receive recognition from my guests when they depart, either with thank you letters or TripAdvisor reviews, but this really would just be the icing on the cake.
What makes a stay at Barclay Farm House different from anywhere else?
Well, all B&Bs are different, we all run them in a different way and we all have different standards, but I try and make it as special as possible for each guest from the moment they book. I offer to make them dinner reservations and if I can take them to the restaurant and pick them up I will. I like going the extra mile.
Also with my breakfast I try to be different. We’re getting longer stays now, so if they are staying a long time, coming down to the same breakfast each day can be a bit boring. So I’ve put together a series of different breakfasts, always using eggs, bacon, mushrooms and tomatoes, but I put them together differently and healthily each day. So they never know quite what they are going to have.
How do you keep guests coming back?
Just by being myself. And by making sure they have a great time, a relaxed stay, a very cheery welcome and just chatting to them every day. I like to make them feel like they’re friends visiting and not guests, and when guests reach the front door, they’ll say ‘we’re home.’
Can you tell us the story behind how you both got into the industry?
In a very strange way! We moved here in 2002, and it was just going to be a family home. I had a 3 and 4 year old and the barn, which is now the guest dining room, was just a barn and the children were going to play in it. But the wood was all rotten and had mice in it, so we had to close it off and forget about it. And I cried solidly for a week, thinking we’d left a beautiful house in Chislehurst for this. But eventually we got an architect in and he pulled it down, salvaging all the timbers (which are 300 years old) and we built a new barn. So my husband said to me, you could always start a bed and breakfast!
Was that something you’d always wanted to do?
Absolutely not! I worked in London before the children were born, in the Foreign Office and I was thinking about going back to work in London but I don’t think it would have worked very well with the children. So I gave the bed and breakfast a go and it’s worked perfectly. I bought the children up here, they’ve never needed a child minder. So it worked out perfectly, I was meant to do it. And I’ve been doing it for 12 years.
And for fun, what’s the strangest thing that’s ever been left behind in a guest bedroom?
I don’t think we’ve had anything strange left, but a couple of Americans sadly left their American passports in the bedroom safe. They had reached Heathrow and were checking-in and they realised after they’d given the car back. So they had to hire another car, come back and they missed their flight!
To see who else made the eviivo awards shortlist click here.