There is a new breed of British B&Bs that are sharpening their act and their attitude, ditching the Roberts radios, feature walls and cheery word art, and mixing esoteric design with local upcycling to create highly individual places to stay.
Here is a handful of our best picks if you are looking for ideas for the weekend.
THE LINEN SHED, NEAR FAVERSHAM
A dove-grey, weatherboarded house in the one-street village of Boughton-under-Blean, on the old Roman road to Canterbury. ('You can park on the single yellow,' yelled a resident. 'It's not London.') There's an American mailbox out front, Cape Cod verandahs all around and a tumbledown garden lit in summer with hollyhocks, lavender and foxgloves. There are just three bedrooms: book the Green Room downstairs for the most privacy and a bathroom along the corridor, the upstairs French Room for the en suite and TV, or the Bird Room if you like lots of mirrors. In the 1970s, Vickie cooked all over the world as Tiny Rowland's private chef on his Gulfstream jet; if she could rustle up an omelette at 10,000 metres, there's little she can't do on terra firma. To leave without trying her breakfast potato rosti (she's happy to give you a masterclass) is pretty much forbidden; but her passionfruit compote and crispy Serrano ham are just as good.
THE READING ROOMS, MARGATE
Driven by the opening of the Turner Contemporary four years ago, independent galleries, vintage homeware shops and pretty cafes have been popping up ever since. Louise and Liam Nabb bought this five-storey Georgian townhouse and restored the floor-to-ceiling sash windows, exposed brick fireplaces and distressed slate-blue plasterwork, which is thought to date back to the 1760s. The name evokes Margate's heyday - before the arcade slot-machine era, when public reading rooms kept wealthy Londoners entertained when they decamped here for the summer. Breakfast is served in the comfort of your own room, just tick what you fancy from the menu the night before.
THE POST HOUSE, CHEWTON MENDIP
Once the post office and the bakery for the local village and part of the Waldegrave Estate, this Grade II-listed 400-year-old building was bought and restored by Karen and John Price. Thoughtful homely touches are evident everywhere: a little jug of orange lilies on an oak table, all-butter biscuits baked that morning in a jar on a dresser. Breakfast - full English if you'd like, with eggs and tomatoes supplied by a gentleman in the village and sausages from Walter Rose Butchers in Trowbridge - is served either by a crackling log fire or outside in the courtyard if the sun still shines.
NUMBER THIRTY EIGHT, BRISTOL
Smart places to stay can be hard to find in Bristol, but Number Thirty Eight Clifton, on the outskirts of Clifton village overlooking the Downs, is truly lovely. Run as a B&B, the Georgian townhouse has 10 rooms elegantly done out in Farrow & Ball colours, with velvet bedsteads, oak floorboards and tin baths. Breakfast is particularly good: go for the fry-up, with sausages, bacon and black pudding from local butchers Ruby & White, and eggs any way you like. The chef also makes his own compote, served with yogurt and crunchy granola.
WATERLOCK HOUSE, WINGHAM, NEAR CANTERBURY
French Sophie’s home is a marvel of elegant greys and whites, gorgeous antiques and artistic flair. A relaxed welcome, an open-house vibe. A stylish Georgian town house with your own airy loft apartment on two floors. Judith gives you a key to a separate entrance, so come and go as you please. The vast bedroom/sitting room has French antique quirky pieces, a painted black and white diamond floor, a sink-into sofa and a very comfortable big bed with a colourful cover. Wake to the sound of chirch bells ringing and hop downstairs for a continental breakfast with croissants, local ham, boiled eggs – and the papers too. There's a fantastic, authentic Provençal-style walled garden behind. Sophie and Judith's decorative antique shop is next door – have a browse.
This individual household belongs to Patrick Williams and his Istanbul-born wife Neri. The townhouse is built by the Bath's ringmaster architect, John Wood the Elder, the air is heady with the scent of vintage wood and centerpiece kitchen as dimly lit and textured as Vermeer still life. Both personal and architectural pasts are on display. In the library upstairs is a thrillingly large collection of Penguins, a rare flirtation of modernity.
Neri is in charge of breakfast in the morning and alongside the essential Full English is the Full Turkish, a slightly healthier option, which includes (depending on the season) marinated olives, ewe's milk cheeses with honey, tomatoes, cucumber, figs and bogrek (a cigar-shaped filo pastry filled with herbs and feta). Baked Eggs with Sage is a family favourite and self explanatory, served in a ramekin with sourdough soldiers
TEVOSE HARBOUR HOUSE, ST IVES
This whitewashed 1850s mid-terrace house in artsy St Ives is as refreshing as the breeze that blow gently through it harbour-facing windows. Painstakingly transformed from a fusty B&B, it's now a dazzle of bright whites and sea blues, mid-century Ercol chairs and tables and not a shell-print in sight. Each of the six rooms offers a slightly different spritz of the same palette but all feature hand-picked second hand furniture, sink-in Hypnos beds and zesty Neal's Yard potions. The top-floor suite, which has a bath beneath a huge skylight for a good soak under the stars, is the ultimate retreat. Breakfast is home-made and organic, there are daily changing smoothie shots and proper machine-brewed espresso.