Tourism Awards 2021-2022: Meet the B&B and Guest House of the Year Award finalists

The Alma Inn and Dining Rooms bedroom in Harwich

The Alma Inn and Dining Rooms has been at the centre of Harwich life since the 1850s - Credit: Tania Hipkin

The finalists have been announced for the B&B and Guest House of the Year Award, sponsored by Tiptree, at the East of England Tourism Awards 2021-2022.   

This award recognises bed and breakfasts and guest houses providing memorable guest experiences and demonstrating excellence across every aspect of the business.   

Alma Inn and Dining Rooms

The Alma Inn and Dining Rooms has been at the centre of life in the Essex coastal town of Harwich since the 1850s, with a building that even has links to the Mayflower. Owner Nick May resurrected the old building 11 years ago and transformed it from a closed pub into the busiest in Harwich.  

The building features five guest bedrooms and one family suite, and guests at the Alma Inn and Dining Rooms are provided with comfortable double beds, luxury cotton linen, flat-screen TVs and Nespresso machines. Bar service and locally-sourced food are provided seven days a week. Guests at the Alma range from locals who are “more like family” and visitors to the historic town for business or leisure travel, as well as sailors arriving at the quay. 

The judges said the team members could not be faulted for their friendliness and service. They are always smiling and are happy to chat to guests. 

Argyll House exterior in Westleton

Argyll House is a small bed and breakfast set in the beautiful coastal village of Westleton - Credit: Katherine Tretheway

Argyll House Bed and Breakfast

Argyll House is a small bed and breakfast set in the beautiful coastal village of Westleton in Suffolk. With just three rooms managed by a husband and wife team, guests are guaranteed tailored and attentive customer service throughout their stay. 

Each room has an en suite and is equipped with Wi-Fi, tea and coffee making facilities, USB charging points and a television. The building dates from 1749 and required a total renovation during lockdown before the business opened its doors in May 2021. Since then, Argyll House has been booked up with visitors wishing to explore the area, visit the beaches and go bird watching at Minsmere.

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The judges said the owners, Oliver and Kate Trethewey, were passionate about their business and also enjoyed sharing recommendations for other places to visit in the local Suffolk area. They are true advocates of all that is on offer to enjoy.

Downham Hall interior bedroom in Billericay

Downham Hall is a multipurpose venue in Billericay catering for weddings and corporate events - Credit: Jamie LeBeau

Downham Hall

In 2017, renovation began on a residential manor house in Billericay, Essex, to transform it into a boutique hotel and bed and breakfast called Downham Hall. Run by husband and wife Andrew and Christina Metcalfe, Downham Hall opened its doors in 2018 and is a multipurpose venue catering for weddings and corporate events, as well as being loved by travellers in the area seeking an independent venue.

The business employs 30 members of staff who are the heart of the business and will go the extra mile for the community. Despite Covid, the business has remained open throughout the pandemic to key workers. The staff even prepared and delivered food for the NHS during lockdowns. It receives glowing reports on TripAdvisor and Booking.com for the consistently high level of service, excellent quality of food and beautiful countryside setting. 

The judges described it as a charming guest house adding that the presentation of the communal interior and external areas was excellent. The staff’s friendly, smiling demeanour and ‘nothing is too much trouble’ attitude contributes in a big way to creating a positive experience for guests.

Suenos Guesthouse in Southend-on-Sea

Suenos Guesthouse is the only five-star guest accommodation in Southend-on-Sea - Credit: Teresa Jones

Suenos Guesthouse 

Opened in 2013, Suenos Guesthouse is the only five-star guest accommodation in the Essex resort town of Southend-on-Sea and surrounding areas. Situated on the seafront, the luxury accommodation features a welcoming guest lounge and outside terrace with far-reaching estuary views, and a log burner for winter. 

Guests can enjoy personal touches including homemade shortbread and granola while tasting the locally-sourced, award-winning breakfast menu. Owners Teresa and Neil Jones provide excellent service and hospitality in a relaxed atmosphere which is reserved just for adults looking to savour a leisurely coastal visit, staycation or business trip. The guest house plays a big part in encouraging tourism to the area and increasing overnight visitors to the traditional seaside town of Southend-on-Sea. 

The judges said the guest house was in a great location on the seafront, with lovely views from the bedrooms. It’s also a perfect base for a short break. The owners offer a very warm and friendly welcome and are great hosts.

The winners of the East of England Tourism Awards 2021-2022 will be announced at a black-tie event held at Imperial War Museum Duxford on Thursday, February 24.