We spoke to Julie and Neale from Copperfields Vegetarian Guest House to find out all about their recent win on channel 4’s Four in a Bed!
Can you tell us more about your time on the show?
We’ve been contacted on and off for about 3 years – ever since we started up the business. But we’d never really felt ready to do it until this year. So we agreed at the beginning of this year to do it. They came down to film at the house which took four days and it was a bit of a shock to see how long these things take, the filming takes quite a lot longer than you’d imagine.
Would you recommend other properties to get involved in the show?
Yes, I think we would. When we were about half way through the process, some friends of ours who have also got a B&B, were saying don’t do it – it’s such hard work. And it is absolutely exhausting! But by the end of it (and I guess because we won that was a big help) we just had such a good time and we met some really lovely people. The whole of the film crew were lovely – we were looked after really well. They sorted out all of our travel arrangements for us and hired cars for us. The filming itself takes just over two weeks, and they did just over 100 hours of filming for each 23 minute programme.
Do you hope that winning the show will see an increase in bookings?
Well that is the hope, it was the whole reason for doing the show. We wanted to get ourselves out there and have five half an hour adverts on the telly. And also to promote the fact that we are a vegetarian guest house. Because often vegetarians are portrayed as bit weird or a bit strange, and we’re really not like that – we think we’re quite normal! Although having watched it back I’m not quite sure.
Was there anyone on Four in a Bed that was particularly tricky to deal with?
Well it was a terrible thing being sat downstairs when the other contestants are upstairs. Knowing that they’re lifting up mattresses and they’re pulling cupboards away from the wall, and running their fingers over the tops of door frames. And they found a little bit of dust which we were disappointed about. There were two people that were put in the show who were real anti-vegetarian, which we figured that they would do. They were quite pleasant to our faces but when we watched it back on TV there were quite a few subliminal messages as well. So that was quite interesting to watch.
Can you tell us more about your property?
Well, we are totally vegetarian but that doesn’t mean that we only get vegetarians coming to stay with us – everybody can come and stay. The main difference is the breakfast really. We don’t serve bacon and we’ve got a vegetarian sausage. Apart from that everything is as you would hope for in a bed and breakfast. We try and use all cruelty-free products in the cleaning, eco-friendly stuff in the laundry. So we try and be as eco-friendly as possible. But that is side-line to being a really good bed and breakfast. Our property is a 3-story Edwardian, Victorian house. We’re also just a 3-minute walk to the sea.
You’ve recently won some trade awards, can you tell us more about that?
Yes, Hotels Combined put us up for an award and we’re also number one on TripAdvisor at the moment. And we’ve also won an eviivo award – which was really lovely. We came along to your awards evening at Madame Tussaud’s – it was really lovely.
So what would you say is the most important thing about running your own accommodation?
Well you have to be the right sort of person. You have to be very hospitable, polite and friendly. And mostly run a clean place. Everything has got to be really clean, you really can’t let things go. What we’ve always done here, we’ve tried to make our rooms, rooms that we would like to stay in. And the things that we put in the rooms are things that we would find useful for us. So we put lots of little extras in there – not just toiletries but things people may forget when they come away. And that seems to work, we get lots of lovely comments about it.
How did you get into the accommodation industry?
Well it’s a bit strange really, we both came and stayed at this particular guest house, because we were both working in London. Neale was a furniture maker and I was in teaching. We were both out of the house 12 hours a day and we never saw each other. So we just came down here – like people do, just to get away and we just fell in love with Broadstairs. So we decided to put a four year plan in place, which we did and ended up doing in 18 months. It all just snowballed really.
Do you have any memorable guest stories that you can share with us?
Well we have a few that we can’t share with you. We have a couple who are in their 80’s that always come twice a year; they come for Folk week and for Dickens week. When they come for Dickens week, they’ve got their costumes. Elizabeth always dresses up as a militant maid and goes around with her rolling pin threatening everybody and Brian who is now in a mobility car, he dresses as an old Victorian drunk and sits on the side of the road.
If you want to apply for Channel 4’s ‘Four in a Bed’ click here to find out more.
And to read more customer stories click here.