B&B proprietors Julie and Steven are celebrating their latest achievement and testament to their hard work, a coveted listing in the 2016 Michelin Guide. They were recently ranked in the top ten B&Bs in the Sunday Times Ultimate 100 Hotels in the UK for 2015 too. "I'm chuffed to bits," chuckles Steven.
The couple had no experience of running a B&B before they bought the Old Shoulder of Mutton in 2007. They had lived in nearby Derby but had fallen in love with the picturesque village of Winster, situated in the beautiful Peak District National Park. When they found this 18th century pub they knew it would be perfect to restore and open as a luxurious three-bedroomed B&B. And this property also had something few others in the village could offer, a sizeable garage to accommodate Steven's other passion, restoring vintage cars and clocks. As it happened, the sellers were looking to downsize so in the end the transaction was a property swap!
Steven's love of vintage cars has now been developed into a thriving sideline business to running the B&B. The classic 1929 Ford Model A Tourer is the UK's only vintage car to be licensed for private hire. www.vintageadventuretours.co.uk offers a variety of day trips and tours from 'Darcy's Dales' to 'Train Tracks to Troglodyes' in the White Peaks. There is even an option to add a classic picnic hamper for lunch.
So what has been the key to their success?
Steven is happy to recommend freetobook to other B&Bs, "We're delighted with this easy-to-use booking system and its good, quick and friendly services – and the support is fantastic."
"We'd also decided that we wouldn't let the business of running the B&B overwhelm us. We take two days off a week and we close at the end of November for three to four months. This ensures we have a fresh eye for the all-important details and the high standard of luxury accommodation we are providing. We even sleep in the other bedrooms to test out our guest's experience. How does the mattress feel? Is the desk in the right place? What else might we provide to make it a truly special stay with us?"
What local attractions bring in their guests and where are they from?
"We are perfectly located to visit Chatsworth House, England's jewel in the crown. Haddon Hall and Bakewell are both close-by too. Our guests come from as far afield as the US and Australia but the majority are from London, escaping hectic city life. There is a notable divide in the age of our guests and which nights they book; those in the 50+ demographic tend to arrive for mid-week breaks whilst the 30+ crowd are weekenders. This keeps us nicely busy with around 92 percent occupancy for the five nights a week we are open to guests." www.oldshoulderofmutton.co.uk