Guests of a bed and breakfast can be sure of a warm welcome – and that’s official.
The Ship Inn at High Hesleden, near Hartlepool, has been voted one of the friendliest B&Bs in the UK and Northern Ireland.
The recognition for “setting and maintaining exemplary standards of hospitality and care” came after a secret inspection by the AA.
The pub, owned by Sheila and Peter Crosby, has been presented with a framed certificate and glass decanter for being a finalist in the friendliest B&B category.
Sheila said: “We like to think it’s a home from home for our guests.
“We treat the people who stay here as our family.
“We don’t spend a fortune on advertising and promotion so our success is mainly down to building a reputation and word of mouth.”
When they bought The Ship in 2001 it was derelict and had been closed for more than three years.
But they invested their time and money heavily and now it boasts six luxury B&B chalets, a three bedroom self-catering apartment, a 46 cover restaurant and one of the best garden sea views in the North East.
CAMRA, the Campaign for Real Ale, says that British rural pubs are closing at an alarming rate estimated at more than 20 each week.
But The Ship is expanding and even creating a Doggie Dining Bar for customers to eat with their pooches.
“You have to be inventive to flourish,” said Peter, 75. “It’s all about going the extra mile to look after the regulars and attract new business.
“The AA award is great. One of the comments in the visitors’ book describes us as a hidden treasure.
“We couldn’t have put it better ourselves.”
Simon Numphud, managing director at AA Hotel & Hospitality Services said: “B&Bs are an integral part of the British hospitality industry, providing a unique experience and bespoke customer care.
“The AA B&B Awards are an important date in the AA’s calendar, as we celebrate all that is great about B&Bs and highlight those that are constantly striving beyond what is expected.”