Frequently Asked Questions

Cleo and Steve
Your hosts, Steve and Cleo

‘Sunflowers’ is a modern, contemporary three bedroomed bed and breakfast, run by Cleo and Steve and located in the small North Dorset town of Gillingham.  We are a short walk from the town centre and the railway station and are located on the edge of the Blackmore Vale and a ten minute drive from the A303.  We are close to the borders of both Wiltshire and Somerset and so nearby towns include Shaftesbury, Mere, Warminster, Wincanton, Blandford Forum and Yeovil.

Book securely and directly with us for the best price, delicious breakfasts and lots of little free extras – check availability here. Our online calendar is always up to date.

All of our guest bedrooms and directly booked room rates include:

  • A private bathroom: Rooms 1 (Church View) and 3 (Blackmore Vale View) have en-suite shower rooms and Room 2 (Garden View) has its own private sole use bathroom, complete with bath and overhead rain shower
  • Complimentary toiletries: shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, hand wash and hand cream
  • Additional amenities which include an alarm clock, tissues, local magazines and a hairdryer
  • Use of an iron and ironing board (upon request)
  • Lockable bedroom doors
  • Adjustable central heating controls
  • Fully opening windows
  • Flatscreen Freeview TVs – and Rooms 1 and 3 also have DVD players
  • Wi-fi usage, with no limit on the number of connected devices
  • High quality cotton bedding and fluffy bathroom towels; down/feather duvets
  • Complimentary bath robes (available upon request)
  • An amenity tray stocked with a wide range of local Dorset Teas, coffee, hot chocolate and biscuits and supplied with mugs, wine glasses and a bottle opener
  • Complimentary seasonal chocolates – how about mini eggs at Easter or foil wrapped chocolate coins during December?
  • Access to a guest fridge, supplied with free bottled water and fresh milk (cow, soya, almond available upon request)
  • A wide range of freshly prepared breakfast options using seasonal and local produce, plus the addition of weekend Specials and three daily breakfast upgrades
  • Parking

First things first – do you have wi-fi? 
Free, fast wi-fi is available in all the guest rooms as standard, with no limit on the number of attached devices. The router is on the landing, in the guest library area, in order to facilitate speed and access. 

What local shops and facilities do you have in Gillingham, Dorset?
Gillingham is a small, working town, rather than a tourist resort and as such has what could be dubbed “functional” shops. Our High Street is home to a number of independent retailers such as a chemist, the butchers, a pet shop and an ironmongers; there are several hair salons, barber shops and beauty salons and the supermarkets include Waitrose, Asda, Lidl and the Co-Op. The local leisure centre has a swimming pool and a children’s soft play area and there are a number of playgrounds within a walk of ‘Sunflowers’. Banks include Lloyds and the TSB.

For weekend visitors who wish to attend church, we are close to St Mary’s (Church of England), the Methodist church, the Baptist church and a small Roman Catholic centre of worship.

For eating out and coffee shop suggestions, please see our Eating and Drinking page.

I’ll be arriving in Gillingham (Dorset) by train.  How close to the station are you?
We are a short taxi ride (c. £5) and there are always cabs at the station rank or you can walk, which will take you c. 12-15 minutes. We’ll always send you walking or driving directions on how to find us (complete with a pedestrian short cut) when you book.

I’d like to treat my mum to a stay at ‘Sunflowers’ – do you do gift vouchers?
Yes, gift vouchers are available, in multiples of £25. Each gift certificate is personally designed for the recipient and can feature their name,  the occasion or celebration and can show the value of the gift or be left blank (eg:”This certificate entitles you to a one night stay at Sunflowers Bed & Breakfast Dorset, to include two Special Breakfasts and Use of the Hot Tub”)

Can I bring my dog?
You certainly can. We love dogs and welcome up to two toilet trained dogs, who can stay with you in your room. We make a charge of £5.00 per dog per night and ask that you please book Room One – Church View. Please see our dog friendly page for more information and the Eating and Drinking page for suggested dog friendly pubs.

Do you have pets of your own?

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‘Sunflowers’ house dog Peggy

Yes, we do have pets, although, due to the layout of the property, many guests stay with us and never see, hear or meet our animals. We have two cats (an elderly pedigree Maine Coon called Thomas and Jesse, a black and white mog) and Peggy, our adored spaniel cross collie rescue pup. None of the animals are permitted in any of the guest rooms,  although Peggy does sleep upstairs with us at night. 

What time can we have breakfast?
Weekday breakfasts are served from 7.30 am onwards and on Saturdays and Sundays we aim for no earlier than an 8.30 am service. If you’re visiting us on business and need an earlier start, perhaps you’d like to take advantage of our Monday to Friday Breakfast To Go service – please see full details here.

I’m a vegetarian and my partner is a vegan. What can we eat if we stay with you?
Lots! Many of our breakfast items are vegetarian/vegan/plant based (fruit, eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms, veggie sausages, baked beans, halloumi cheese) and we can also provide almond or soya milk and olive oil, coconut oil or non-dairy spread upon request, in addition to soya or coconut yoghurt.  Many of our ‘standard’ dishes can be modified to make them vegetarian or vegan – please just let us know when you book, so that we can ensure that we have the relevant ingredients to hand to magic you up a delicious breakfast. 

We prefer not to eat gluten – what can we have for breakfast?

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The ‘Sunflowers’ breakfast parfait

Many of our standard breakfast items are naturally gluten-free (eggs, bacon, vegetable dishes) but we also serve gluten-free (meat) sausages as standard, as well as gluten-free baked beans. We also keep a number of gluten-free baked goods in stock; these include porridge oats, granola, muesli and sliced brown bread. This enables us to make, for example, our popular signature ‘Sunflowers’ breakfast parfait in a gluten-free iteration. We also keep a separate toaster for gluten-free bread in order to minimise cross-contamination, although please note that we CANNOT GUARANTEE that this will not occur as we do not maintain a “free from” kitchen environment as standard.

I’m dairy-free: please tell me I don’t just have to eat fruit for breakfast!
Far from it – just let us know when you book. We always have soya and almond ‘milks’ available and can provide dairy-free spread or yoghurt upon request. We will also make sure that the biscuits in your room are dairy-free so that you don’t miss out!

I prefer to eat a low-carb breakfast.  What can I look forward to?
We have quite a few items which are low-carb or Paleo on the breakfast menu; these include Paleo muesli, as well as cooked items such as bacon, tomatoes, mushrooms and veggies such as spinach and asparagus (when in season). We can also cook in butter, olive oil or coconut oil upon request and serve you with a cold platter of ham and sliced cheese. Our locally produced Greek style yoghurt is full fat and comes from a local farm, four miles away. 

Your hot tub looks gorgeous! When can we use it?

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Enjoy the ‘Sunflowers’ hot tub/jacuzzi

The undercover hot tub (complete with the legendary floating drinks tray!) is available all year round, as long as you request it when you book.  It takes c. 24 hours to get up to temperature, so we do need a bit of notice – thank you. The hot tub is available FREE OF CHARGE to weekend (Friday and Saturday night) bookings made through this website and at an additional charge of £5.00 per person for Sunday to Thursday bookings. We provide fluffy robes and pool towels – just bring swimwear and flip-flops in order to go to and from the house.

We’d like to come and stay with our kids. Do you have a family room?
We are able to convert Room One – Church View to a family room with sufficient notice; this entails adding in a temporary single bed, at an additional cost of £25.00 per night. This is suitable and available for a child up to 12 years of age – over that point, we recommend that you book Room Two – Garden View for your child. If you would like to have adjacent rooms, please book Rooms Two and Three as they are next door to each other. 

We can also provide a range of family friendly books, DVDs and toys upon request for your children to use during their stay. The landing has a safety stair gate, there is also a nightlight and we can provide electric socket covers upon request.

I’m a light sleeper. How dark are the bedrooms?
We have invested in black out blinds for all three bedrooms and additionally, two of the three rooms have black out lined curtains.

We’re planning a cycling holiday. Will our bikes be safe at ‘Sunflowers’?

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Can you ride tandem?

We welcome cyclists, many of whom stay here when cycling National Cycling Route 25 which passes at the top of the road, and to date we have hosted guests from countries which include the UK, France, Belgium, Holland, Germany and Sweden – so you will be in good company! We are happy to store your bicycle(s)and trailer etc in our locked garage overnight,  and to refill your water bottles for you before you leave.

Where can we park?
We have parking for up to three guest cars at the front of the property.

Do your bedrooms have TVs?
All three guest bedrooms have flat screen TVs with Freeview as standard. Bedrooms One and Three also have DVD players and you are welcome to borrow one of our DVDs from the range available in the guest breakfast room. It’s our own personal collection but there are also a number of family friendly options on the shelves. 

How long have you been running your bed and breakfast?
We opened ‘Sunflowers’ as a B&B in April 2016 and since then we have hosted hundreds of guests from 27 different countries! Here’s an article on us from the Gillingham News, as published in June 2017.

Our goal is to treat all our guests as we would like to be treated ourselves, to try to exceed your expectations of what a B&B stay is like and to be welcoming and inclusive to all. Please see the reviews which repeatedly say things like “nothing was too much trouble” and “we loved all the special little touches” to judge for yourself if we are achieving these objectives!

What did you do before you opened your guest house?
Steve has always worked in the motorcycle trade and has done stints at dealerships which include Ducati, Honda and BMW Park Lane in London (where he was renowned for his customer service) prior to setting up Bid for Bikes in 2004.

Cleo previously held a number of senior director-level global roles in major companies such as PricewaterhouseCoopers, AXA and Australian engineering company Worley Parsons, which saw her travelling all over the world and gave her some great ideas as to what to do and, more importantly, what not to do when it comes to comfort and hospitality in the accommodation space.  Much of her work was involved with diversity and inclusion; this impacts very heavily on her hospitality ethos and is reflected in the reviews that we receive both on and offline.

We hope that these experiences are shown in what we offer you as our guest here at ‘Sunflowers’.

Do you have other jobs?
Steve works full time running his own motorcycle trading business, Bid for Bikes. He buys and sells motorcycles, with a particular emphasis on BMWs and other European bikes such as Laverdas and Ducatis. We usually have a few vintage models in the garage if you’re interested in taking a look and there’s also a lot (a LOT!) of motorcycling related books on the shelves.

Cleo finds that running the B&B to her very high standards is pretty full on and all-encompassing but she does occasionally undertake bits of freelance copy writing work for external clients, as well as some consultancy and speaking work related to her previous life in An Office.

I’m a motorcyclist. Are bikers and their bikes welcome at ‘Sunflowers’?
See above! Yes, we love to meet bikers and can of course store your bike in our locked and alarmed garage alongside Steve’s existing stable of stock.  We can also provide storage and hanging space for your riding kit and advise you on great local rides and routes.

What about walkers?

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Walkers are Welcome in Gillingham, Dorset

If you’re a walker, you will love a visit to North Dorset – we are on the Stour Valley Way and Gillingham is a ‘Walkers are Welcome’ town – the first and only place in Dorset to receive this prestigious accreditation. Please see our page here for more ideas and request our info pack on local walking routes when you make your direct booking.

Please can I have the recipe for … ?
Absolutely! Please check out our blog or just ask when you’re here.

Are there any pubs or restaurants within walking distance?
Yes, there are – please see a curated selection here and you will find walking directions in your in-room information folder at check-in. We also offer a small menu of light evening meals which are available between 5.00 and 8.00pm on Sunday to Thursday evenings.

How early can we check in?
Check in starts at 4.00 pm, other than by prior request or arrangement. We can offer an earlier check in time of 1.00 pm for an additional fee, but if you need to arrive prior to then, please consider booking the night before. 

And when is check out?
Check out is by 10.00 am (ish) other than by prior request or arrangement. We can offer a late check out of 12 noon for an additional fee – both this and the early check in option are available when you book

We’re on a road trip!  Do you provide laundry facilities?
Yes, we do. One load of laundry can be washed and dried at a cost of £5.00. Please allow us a minimum of four hours for this service.

We don’t always want to eat out. Are we able to cook and prepare meals when we stay with you?
Our insurance and licencing arrangements do not permit us to make the kitchen area available for you. However,  there is a guest fridge for your use and you are welcome to bring in “picnic” style items or a takeaway and eat in the guest breakfast room; we will happily provide you with plates, glasses, napkins and cutlery.  We also offer a small menu of light evening meal options, available on Sunday to Thursday evenings.

Are your bedrooms lockable?
Yes. All guests are issued with a set of keys for the front door and their own bedroom door at check-in.  These must be returned at check-out and we reserve the right to charge for replacement keys and key fobs if you take them with you (even in error!).

What do your neighbours think about you running a bed and breakfast?

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Freshly laid free range eggs

They are fine with it and have even used us as over spill accommodation for their own family members! Our immediate neighbour, Mark runs the butchers on the High Street and so supplies us with our (gluten-free) sausages and bacon.  Our eggs come from another neighbour, Emily, subject to her free range “girls” being able to lay them in sufficient quantities!  

Have you read all of those books?

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View of the guest library and sofa area

Yes, we have, although Cleo did cross to the dark side of Kindle ownership in 2011, so her reading now is more digital than analogue.

And finally – what happens if I need to cancel?
This is our cancellation policy: payment is taken in full at the time of your booking.  If you cancel four weeks prior to arrival, we will refund 90% of your payment.  If you cancel two to four weeks prior to arrival,  we will refund 50% of your payment.  If you cancel giving us less than two weeks’ notice, we will not issue a refund, other than at our individual discretion if we are able to re-book the room. We understand that life and changes happen and we will always try and work with you to secure a mutually acceptable solution, such as re-booking your visit for a different date.

 

 

 

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