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Case study: The Swallows Rest

The Swallows Rest in Brigstock has been crowned the 5th Best B&B in the world in the TripAdvisor 2019 Travellers’ Choice Awards – for the second time! We love to celebrate the successes of our freetobookers, so we phoned Sam and Nick to pass on our congratulations and have a chat about their wonderful news.

Opening in 2013, Swallows Rest is a beautiful 3-bedroom B&B overlooking a vineyard in the picturesque village of Brigstock. Owners Sam and Nick both have hotel backgrounds, and they’ve been with freetobook since the beginning of their business. They know what works, what’s needed and what’s really important for a good night’s sleep – “we just really try and give people what we would want if we were going away”.


So how does it feel to be the 5th best B&B in the world?

“Absolutely brilliant, really really delighted, as you can imagine. We came 5th best 2 years ago so yeah, it’s nice to be recognised internationally really. It’s been a bit busy today - we’ve had BBC Radio here this morning doing their live show and bits and pieces with media and press releases and things, so yeah it’s been good thank you!”

Now in their 17th year, the TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards are a brilliant accolade because they’re determined by an algorithm based on all the reviews and opinions collected in a single year from TripAdvisor users worldwide. That’s what makes it particularly satisfying for Sam – “TripAdvisor is the one to get really, it’s such an objective award given that it’s based on previous guests, it’s a really important one”.


Where are guests coming from and how are they booking?

Not only do guests come to Swallows Rest from all over the world (Australia, India, Chile and Bolivia, to name a few), but they’re also coming to the area for a variety of reasons: “we get people staying here for leisure, for business, for weddings, for funerals, for stop overs. We’re very well located, a real mix really of business”.

This mix of business is mirrored in the different avenues Swallows Rest get their bookings from – their booking eggs aren’t all in one basket! The majority of their bookings come direct through their website, but they also use Booking.com and Expedia to “top up” the business they don’t gain directly.

“We try and boost our own website more and more. So, you know they’re important channels booking.com and Expedia, but obviously the high commission rate means we try where possible to boost repeat business, and that just is a natural thing of people being satisfied and wanting to come back. It’s just building awareness and people referring to family and friends and that’s always great when you can get direct bookings rather than going through third party.”


What are your top tips for fellow B&B owners?

  • Really LOVE what you do.
  • Pay attention to the really small, noticeable little things because if you get those right then that’s what makes all the difference.
  • Every day you’ve got to make sure that your standards are as high as they always have been, you can’t let it slip because that’s what makes the difference between being great and being really really great!
  • Keep making customers happy!

As well as ranking 5th Best B&B in the world, Swallows Rest is also 4th Best B&B in the UK! They join 10 other freetobookers in the top 25 UK B&Bs, as well as Casitas Tenorio Bed and Breakfast and Farm (the best B&B in Costa Rica) in this year’s TripAdvisor Travellers Choice Awards – we’re absolutely thrilled that so many top properties are using freetobook!

At freetobook we love our customers and think it’s important to celebrate their victories – huge congratulations to ...

... on their brilliant success!


It’s great to see so many getting the recognition they deserve; their passion for personal service and attention to detail are self-evident and we’re delighted for each and every one of them.

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