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Do you provide Bathroom Toiletries in your B&B?

cest la vie

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It would be a really sad day if b&b's were just seen as little hotels.  The whole point is that they are all different, with their own charm and aren't the same as chains all the world over.  So as I see it, we offer our paying guests a similar standard to what our personal friends and family get.  I think that's what most of our guests expect.  The only extra is that I put a kettle etc in the rooms, but my reasoning is that I like a morning a cuppa, and take my own guests a cup in bed in the morning, but I don't want our PG's wandering into the kitchen, neither am I going to wait on them, so they can make one themselves.  Some don't even use it, but at least they have the option.  I always put sample toiletries, tissues, hair dryer and towels out for family so I do it for the PG's.  It really is down to personal choice and we should do what we feel comfortable with.  A lot of our French guests say they prefer to stay in English run B&b's; some are cagey as to why, but one or 2 have said they find them more comfortable, and the breakfasts are better. 

I had a list from Gdf when they were coming to rate us and on it as part of the 3epis rating was - yes - soap and gants.  Both of the inspectors we have had have made a point in asking if we supply them.  I don't think it's a requirement as such, but would I have my coveted 3 epis.................[8-|]

As far as I can see Sawday et al are just other advertising outlets, if they work, all well and good, but for me they are too expensive for what we would get out them (I've got a good turnover anyway, maybe if that drops.......). 

I agree very few English run B&b's here are with GdF, I think the language thing has a lot to do with it and some misconceptions as to what you can and can't do. 



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[quote user="Miki"]Will, honestly they are no more upmarket than G de Fr, just another splinter group who advertise with big words !! Like Quality Label [:)]

In other words, they judge almost exactly like G de Fr (they are not stupid !!) but with a soap and a gant on top, making them exclusive................ indeed  !!


Yes Miki, it was the advertising I was referring to rather than the reality. Having stayed in one, where the nightly room rate was well into three figures, and where madame's idea of unused soap was a half-empty bottle of Auchan washing up liquid, and, to boot, one bath towel between two people, I would never accuse Fleur de Soleil of going after the five-star boutique hotel market. [:P]

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[quote user="Miki"] Well put Quillan.

This is the big beef that the Hotel association has (along with the campsites and all the similar subsideries) and has had for many years. They merely want to guard their establishments and their workers against serious damage done by C d' H's.

G de Fr have fought tooth and nail to ensure we are able to carry on and as said, able to gain the considerable abattement against Impôts. The main reason for C D'H's in the first place (and it has been extremely well documented on here several times before) was



I think that the biggest problem is that people want to exist totally on their income from their CDH which we all know just can’t be done on it’s own. The Brits for instance tend to compare the French ‘room of hosts’ to the B&B accommodation now found in the UK which in my opinion is not correct. If you look at the new regulations as issued by the English Tourist board for B&B’s and their grading it’s now fairly strict, far, far, more strict than anything seen in France.

I personally believe in the basic principles of the Chambres D’Hotes system which translates to Room of Hosts and means just that and it’s remained unchanged in it’s principle since the first farmers wife took in the first ever guest. Like many we are not farmers and although there is no requirement to have one we have added en-suite bathrooms because whilst B&B’s don’t technically exist in France most Europeans and now even the French expect the rooms to have one.

As Miki has said there are other places that have more rooms than allowed for CHD yet they have been vetted and have passed by basically just showing 6 bedrooms to the inspectors when in truth they are small hotels (they can only inspect the rooms you show them). As I said this is really starting to get serious and will effect us all. I am lucky I can survive (just) on the income I get from my CDH but that’s because of its unique position, our ethos, our hard work and the value added services we offer via our sister websites (specialised outdoor activities etc).

Likewise my survival is intrinsically linked to my ability to benefit legally from a tax system that was never really set up for the type of thing I am doing (by that I mean I am not a farmer). Without the benefit of this tax system I know I would not survive so I really don’t like the way things are going with these ‘mini hotels’ because the government will jump and that’s not a if that’s a when as moves are already a foot as Miki has said. As always there are rumours going around even within GDF at local levels and probably based on stupid gossip but one solution it is said being discussed is the if you have en-suite accommodation you are a hotel, if you don’t then you are a CDH and to enforce the rules of eating at the same table with at least one of the owners eating with the guests at all times. Personally I doubt if this will happen if anything I could see them charging bed tax depending on the standard of accommodation or even as a (low) percentage of the room rate and only framers benefiting from the Micro Bic system. I also think that compulsory registration which has been employed in some regions (badly in some cases) will be extended country wide even if you don’t take French nationals.

Well that’s my personal opinion anyway.


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Yes Miki, it was the advertising I was referring to rather than the

reality. Having stayed in one, where the nightly room rate was well

into three figures, and where madame's idea of unused soap was a

half-empty bottle of Auchan washing up liquid, and, to boot, one bath

towel between two people, I would never accuse Fleur de Soleil of going

after the five-star boutique hotel market. [:P]


Think I know the place Will, or, it was very similar [:D] Novel idea

though, I wonder if Carrefour washing up liquid would suffice ?

We are always surprised at the number of places that supply just bath

towels (one each though !) and no hand towels (gants I rarely use,

except I always take one on holiday !!)

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  • 5 weeks later...

[quote user="Quillan"]We too were approach a couple of years back as they had nothing in this area. We got them to send us a free book so we could look at the sort of places advertised and to be honest I thought we would be out of place amongst the grand old houses. They then told us how much we had to pay to get in the book which although I can't remember I did think was rather expensive at the time. They also expected the person who was coming to inspect us to only be charged something like £20 for their nights stay including dinner. I remember thinking I might be tempted to apply for a job of inspector, tester or whatever. I asked if they would give me 60% discount on being in the book as that was what they were asking me for but I hit a bit of a stone wall. Personally I have only ever met one couple in four years who has used the book and to be honest I had never seen or heard of it before they mentioned it which to my mind makes me think I am not alone and I can't see it's a good investment. I would be interested to hear if anyone is in the book and how much trade it brings them. The only English private book we are in this year is the Thomas Cook one and its produced quite a few clients. We paid to be in it for three years and we have had our money back already and its our first year so this to me is a good investment.[/quote]

I have been using these books for many years, I have in the past used the guide to Paris Hotels, English Bed and Breakfasts, and French Chambres d'Hotes. Indeed I am using their website right now to find a B&B here in East Sussex for some relatives who will be visiting me in December.

I have never been disappointed with any of the places I have stayed at, so I'm sorry to hear that some people on this forum have had bad experiences.  The whole point of them is that the guides are not all necessarily "de luxe" expensive places, as long as they are special within their budget. Also, it has to be noted that things change, people move on, and AS only inspect every two years - so it is possible that a place has gone downhill since the guide was published, particularly if you are not looking at the latest guide.

Yes, we are in one of their guides (French Holiday Homes), and I can vouch that it was certainly not "easy" to get in - we had to fill in a detailed application form and provide loads of other information such as examples of our info pack, etc etc. Then, once we were "shortlisted" I had to badger them to make sure that they came and did our inspection. In the end the inspector came about 2 weeks before the deadline for the last inspections and I am sure that they only sent her because they were sick of me phoning them every week. Once she was there, she spent over two hours looking around the place and asking some very detailed questions. She told me that they had had over 1,000 applications for the 360 places that ended up in the book.

Some people have mentioned the "high" cost to the advertiser for appearing in the book. Well, I paid £344 inc vat for being in the book and on the website for 2 years. This is cheaper than www.holiday-rentals.com and to me, 10 times as valuable - not just for the large number of bookings I get from the AS book and website, but also for the ability to mention in all our other advertising that we have been inspected by AS. Our gite has only had 4 vacant weeks since 4th February this year and is now booked to mid November. Not bad, and I am totally convinced that the AS guide has played a large part in this.  

Anyway, to get back to the point, whilst I was looking at their website just now, I noticed that Alastair Sawday himself is going to be on Channel 4's "No Going Back" program this Thursday, if anyone is interested. (He is going to visit a chambres d'hotes in France, one that was previously featured in the last series, Chateau de Ribagnac). 

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I'm very interested to hear all of this Catherine, as for years we only used the AS guide to B&Bs in France and were NEVER disappointed.  We also, very often found that on talking to other guests at breakfast that they had found the place via AS and likewise, only stayed at AS properties.  So although a couple of people say they've never heard of him, I think he is still widely used.

 It became my husband's goal in life to be "accepted" into the book and we were a little disappointed to discover that it had become more of a commercial venture, in that, money bought your way into the book.  I have also been led to believe more recently that it costs considerably more than £344 to get into it.  If that is an uptodate cost then I would still be interested.  I currently pay between £50 and £100 each to several sites and would quite happily drop a couple of those to finance it.  We have our own website and are on several French, Dutch, German and British sites but are still wholly represented on the web and although I know that most people use it to book holidays these days there are still those that use guidebooks and I still feel that AS is the best of the lot.  You've given me renewed interest in applying again.  The first time we applied we heard nothing, the second time I got all the forms and an email to say they would be inspecting but then nothing further, so now I know how you had to badger them perhaps I'll try again.  Although they have a lot of B&Bs in Normandy they don't seem to have too many in our particular region. [:D]

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[quote user="St Amour"]we were a little disappointed to discover that it had become more of a commercial venture, in that, money bought your way into the book.  [/quote]

Well of course it is a commercial venture! He is not doing it out of the goodness of his heart!

But, I disagree that you can "buy" your way in. Yes, you do have to pay, but only once you have been accepted. Having had many conversations with Emma and Kate, the editors, and having spent time with the inspector, I have no doubt that they would not put any old property into the book just because someone is prepared to pay. They would soon lose their credibility if they did.  

They don't hide the fact that owners have to pay - this is what they say on their website:

Owners pay to appear in these guides – their modest fee goes towards the high production costs of all-colour books.
Although you may not care tuppence if owners have paid to be in, it is a thorny subject among guides. Many books are black and white, without photographs; there is no comparison in production costs. They have trumpeted the fact that owners do not pay. We challenge them to find a finer selection of houses or nicer owners than ours. We have turned down houses that have appeared in many other guides and frequently returned cheques to owners keen to be in ours. More owners than ever want to be in and we have more readers than ever. We stand by our integrity - firmly!

We make no claims to pure objectivity in judging our Special Places to Stay. They are here because we like them. Our opinions and tastes are ours alone and these books are a statement of them; we cross our fingers and hope that you will share them.

I paid £344 just one year ago - I am not aware that it now costs considerably more. And I don't think it is an excessive price to pay, given the quality of the production of the book, and the fact that it covers you for two years on their website as well. St Amour - if you are going to reapply, then I strongly recommend that you call Emma (well, actually no, not Emma, as she is going on maternity leave shortly, but call the office and speak to her replacement). The whole point of the book is that it is not just about properties, it is about people, so I think that it is important to build up a rapport.

Yes, I know that I am coming across as a bit of a "fan", but that's because I am, and have been for a long time - many years before I even thought that I would ever be able to afford to buy my own holiday property. I like their attitude, and I particularly like their ethics and environmental policies. I am proud to have been included in their guides and make no apologies for singing their praises.  For those of you who have never seen their books, just go in to any (English) bookshop and take a look, and make your own judgement.

EDIT: Why won't any of my smiley icons display???!!!

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We too have previously used inclusion in the AS book as a sign of somewhere we would choose to stay, being rather different from the average. The book always tried to give the impression that it was totally independent rather than an advertising medium, any references to payment for inclusion being far less prominent and worded in a rather woolly way (as above) though intelligent and knowledgeable readers would never be so naive as to actually believe that. It's obviously worth being in it as a marketing medium, most seem to stay in for years, but perhaps not that good as most also seem to be with gites de france and/or at least one other guide. 

I do think, though, like so many other things, it is not what it used to be. Probably a result of spreading its resources too thinly over a growing number of guides and an increasing web presence. If the guide was what it claimed to be then it would not only be keener to attract and inspect new entries (even if it does reject most after inspection, which I doubt) and thus ensure the standards it sets itself are maintained, but also, much more importantly, its compilers would take the trouble to respond to, or even just acknowledge, reader feedback, particularly if it seems one of its establishments is falling well short of what should be expected.

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