Review share: Sunflowers BnB, Gillingham, Dorset, as reviewed by Luxury Travel Diary!

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Room 3 – Blackmore Vale views

Wow! We’ve been reviewed by the team at the Luxury Travel Diary website and are delighted to read what they have to say about us. Here’s the highlights – accompanied by a photo of room 3, as taken by London Backline Photography on our recent professional photo shoot with them:

A peaceful, luxury boutique retreat awaits in the beautiful north Dorset countryside at Sunflowers Bed and Breakfast.

Location

[Sunflowers] is located in the beautiful town of Gillingham, the most northerly town in Dorset. It is the perfect base for a trip exploring the West Country; lying on the borders of Somerset and Wiltshire. Gillingham is located close to Shaftesbury, on a direct train line from London Waterloo with a journey time of under 2 hours. The B&B is a short walk from the railway station, or ten minutes’ drive from the A303.

Style & Character

This boutique B&B is set in a beautiful contemporary house which inside oozes country chic. It is luxurious, comfortable and stylish. The stunning gardens and the views of the surrounding countryside add a lot to the appeal of staying here and make for a relaxing stay.

Service & Facilities

There is ample free private parking here, a beautiful garden, a private living room and dining room space that includes Sky TV and a DVD player, complimentary Wi-Fi and the pièce de résistance; a hot tub; set in a private, covered area of the garden it is the perfect place to enjoy a glass of something chilled and bubbly while soaking the day away. They even provide the fluffy robes and towels, just bring your swimwear! It’s the little homely touches that you really notice when staying here; be it the complimentary dog treats (this place is definitely dog-friendly and they’ll spoil your four legged friends rotten given half the chance!), the Dorset Tea served in the guest rooms or the toys and books that are available for little guests. You are guaranteed to receive a wonderfully warm welcome at Sunflowers; depending on when you arrive, you’ll receive a fresh pot of Dorset tea served with locally made biscuits or cake, or maybe a glass of wine if the hour is right! They have a comprehensive pack of local information for you to pore over to help you decide how to spend your days in this delightful part of the country.

Rooms

There are just three en-suite rooms at this intimate B&B. All include high thread count cotton sheets and plenty of pillows; black out blind; Freeview TV with built in DVD player, tea, coffee and hot chocolate making facilities (with a choice of bottled water and fresh milk), fluffy bath robes, hairdryer, alarm clock and assorted toiletries. Room 1 is a large en-suite double room with a view looking over the church, Room 2 is a single room looking over the garden and Room 3 is also an en-suite double room with views over the Blackmore Vale. Rooms 2 and 3 are right next to each other and are popular with families, Room 1 is the largest (plenty of room for a travel cot or an extra single bed which they will provide) but my favourite would have to be Room 3.

(c) Luxury Travel Diary 2017

Want to come and see for yourself? Please check availability online here, contact us or call – we look forward to welcoming you to our “peaceful, luxury retreat”.

Book directly with us for the best prices when you visit Gillingham, Dorset!

FreetoBookWe are delighted to be able to share with you the news that we are now able to take online booking reservations through our site! Simply click the link that you’ll find on every page to see which rooms are available for your dates and how much your proposed stay will cost you.  You can even choose to add on optional extras,  such as a full cooked Dorset breakfast, weekday use of the hot tub or accommodation for your dog.

We also now take credit card bookings online and we guarantee that you will always get the best price by booking directly with us – as well as lots of little extras. Our reviews often refer to the “special little touches” that we love to share with our guests and you can look forward to experiencing some if not all of the following on your directly booked visit to ‘Sunflowers’:

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Feedback from recent guest Tracey
  • A welcome drink upon arrival (tea, coffee etc), served with cake or biscuits (sometimes home-made – I love to bake!)
  • A wide choice of local teas and coffees on your in-room amenity tray
  • Bottled water
  • Chocolates
  • Fresh flowers in your room
  • One of our legendary ‘Special Sunday Breakfasts’ (if you’re here on a Sunday – although I did recently magic up a Special MONDAY Breakfast for regular returning guest Jordan!)
  • Breakfast options including dairy free, low carb and gluten free items upon request
  • Complimentary Prosecco if you’re celebrating – plus a card

Sunflowers Dorset_Prosecco in the hot tub

  • Fluffy pool towels and robes to use in the hot tub, and plastic drinkware for you to use on the legendary floating drinks tray
  • If you choose to eat in one evening, we’ll happily set the guest dining table for you with plates, glasses, napkins and candles: just ask
  • A guest fridge (stocked with fresh cow’s milk for your use – soya or almond milks also available)
  • A range of DVDs, toys and books for use by our mini guests (plus a stair gate, landing night light and in-room blackout blinds)
  • Complimentary dog treats for our canine visitors.

We try and be so much more than just somewhere to sleep and I’m always keen to think of new ways to improve and offer an even better bed and breakfast experience – so do please check out the new direct booking facility and come and see for yourselves!  If you’re in the UK – we have two more long Bank Holiday weekends coming up and some availability over those dates; why not check us out and make a booking? We’d love to meet you.

Staying at Sunflowers Bed and Breakfast in Gillingham, Dorset – some recent feedback!

We love to make people feel welcome and at home in our home – so far at this point in 2017,  we have hosted just over 50 guests this year,  who have travelled to Dorset from all over the UK, as well as from Holland, France, Italy, Portugal and China.

Our booking calendar is already looking forward to welcoming bed and breakfast travellers from Germany, Sweden, Belgium and New Zealand (who may find themselves receiving a special gift for being our most far flung guests!).

And we also love to get feedback – read some here on our main feedback page and here’s a few of the lovely comments we’ve received in recent weeks:

wp-1483517050541.jpgDear Cleo – thanks for the lovely stay. I’ll recommend you in Holland! Great breakfasts and I loved the wonderful dinner you made me. Dank je wel! Simen, The Netherlands

 

A real home from home, with a lovely comfy room, a great breakfast and a charming host. Thank you! Paul, Berkshire

 

Thank you so much. The perfect getaway – a lovely room and a real treat to use the hot tub! ObrigadaMarta and Rita, Portugal

 

Thank you for an amazing stay – I had a very peaceful and restful night. Just perfect! Mark, West Midlands

 

Thank you for a lovely stay and a delicious dairy free breakfast! What a great room – we have the feeling we will be coming back again soon. Justin and Diana, Lincs

 

A warm welcome and a lovely, peaceful stay. Mike, Bristol

 

Thank you for a fantastic weekend – warm, comfortable and very well looked after! My third return visit and I’m sure it won’t be the last. Elizabeth, Kent

 

Thank you for fitting us in at such short notice after our car broke down! A fantastic stay in a warm and comfortable room. Hope to see you again soon. Ann and Ian, Essex

 

wp-1486645313818.jpgA lovely stay; we were very well looked after by a fantastic host whilst in the area on a house hunting trip. We were all made to feel very welcome, especially Harry aged 2½. We hope to be back soon. The Mitchells, Kent

 

Very welcoming and very comfortable. A fantastic night’s sleep. Lovely to stay in a cosy home rather than in a hotel when away on a business trip. Simon, London

Want to come and stay? Just give us a call or drop us a line with your dates and let’s make it happen. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Dorset breakfast recipe: layered raspberry granola pots

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Breakfast – Gillingham, Dorset style!

I recently made these cute little fruity breakfast pots and posted the picture on social media – where they very quickly became one of my most popular posts. Lots of people asked for the recipe in the comments,  so here it is for you to make and enjoy at home – or to have made for you by me when you come and stay at Sunflowers!

I love to cook and really (really) enjoy making special breakfasts,  either because people are celebrating or to accommodate different dietary preferences or food allergies. I have some guests booked in for February who eat a paleo diet, so I am currently researching delicious grain and dairy-free options for them; I’ve also recently catered for vegan, nut free and low carb guests. So do please just let me know what you need when you book – and I’m sure we’ll be able to create something delicious for you.

Just to whet your appetite – here’s a few photos on Facebook of previous breakfasts.

Recipe: raspberry granola breakfast pots – serves 4

200g fresh or frozen raspberries (or your berries of choice – I think this would work beautifully with blueberries or fresh strawberries)
8 tablespoons of granola (I like to use Dorset Cereals’ version!)
250g cream cheese
100g Greek yoghurt (from the lovely Dorset Dairy Co in my case – see my blog post from last year at their launch event)
2 tablespoons of runny honey
Mint leaves, to garnish

4 ramekins or small glass dishes

Method:

  • Divide the granola equally between the four dishes.
  • Using an electric mixer, whisk together the cream cheese, yoghurt and honey. Spoon over the granola to create a lovely creamy layer, then cover each pot with cling film and refrigerate it until you’re ready to serve.
  • To serve: remove the cling film and add an even layer of fresh or defrosted berries to each pot. Garnish with mint leaves and serve.

Enjoy! And feel free to request this when you book – I’d love to make it as part of your Dorset breakfast.

Visiting Gillingham, Dorset on business and need a place to stay?

We continue to meet a fascinating range of guests who are in the Gillingham, Dorset area on business and who want to stay somewhere that has a bit more personality than a chain hotel – but yet which appreciates the need for flexibility when it comes to dealing with business travellers.

In recent weeks,  we’ve hosted guests who work for such a diverse range of entities as the NHS, our local coffee roastery (918 Coffee – check it out in Waitrose!), the National Trust and an international charity, as well as guest speakers and performers at many of our local area schools.

Feedback from 918 Coffee who often use us to host their guests:

“They said they really enjoyed their stay and felt very pampered by you – I really appreciate it.”

And from the guests themselves: “Thank you for a good night’s rest after a busy working day.  A beautiful house with very welcoming hosts.”

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(c) Francis Frith Collection

Some of our locally based companies include Dextra, Sigma, Neal’s Yard and vintage photo company Francis Frith (owner of this lovely photo, taken in 1965,  which shows the road around the corner from ‘Sunflowers’) – so if you have Gillingham, Dorset area based business dealings with these or any other local companies, please do keep us in mind for your accommodation needs.

We offer fast wi-fi as standard and are happy to check you in/out and to serve breakfast at times to suit your business commitments. We also have a private guest dining room where you are welcome to work outside scheduled meal times. Please call Cleo via the link on the page to discuss – and we look forward to meeting you soon.

Will you be attending a wedding in the Gillingham, Dorset area in 2017?

It’s often said in the hospitality trade that people don’t travel in January – but that they PLAN to travel.  And I’ve certainly found this to be true this week;  the phone has been ringing off the hook with people making enquiries and booking as far ahead into 2017 as October!

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Image from NotontheHighStreet

It’s very exciting to see the names filling up on the booking system and the #1 reason that people give at the moment when they tell me why they’re coming to Gillingham is … to attend a wedding. It’s such a beautiful area that I can absolutely see why happy couples would choose to get married around here and obviously lots of brides and grooms-to-be sent out their “save the date” reminders and invitations with their Christmas cards.  So we’re looking forward to welcoming lots of wedding guests to ‘Sunflowers’ this year – please do give me a call and book in as soon as your plans get finalised,  as the summer Saturdays are filling up fast!

Remember, our direct bookings always get the best prices as well as lots of little extras, such as an early check in if needed (we understand that you want to get ready for the wedding) and perhaps a glass of Prosecco to help get the party started. Please contact us – let me check the calendar and then you can tick that job off your January “To Do” list and start planning your outfit!

 

 

Happy New Year from Gillingham, Dorset!

wp-1483517050541.jpgHappy New Year! We hope everyone had a lovely Christmas and New Year break.

We were fully booked from December 30th and had five wonderful guests staying with us, who took advantage of our special New Year package and enjoyed  complimentary cocktails in the hot tub (I made a big jug of Poinsettias – here’s the recipe), a very special New Year’s Day breakfast (pictured: triple cheese strata, local sausages and oven roasted tomatoes) and a late check out.

Both sets of guests had dinner on New Year’s Eve at our local restaurant South Street Kitchen and came home raving about their delicious food and cocktails!

Sharon was kind enough to leave us this feedback:

We spent two nights at this lovely B&B for New Year’s and it was the best experience we’ve had. Cleo and Steve were so welcoming and the rooms made us feel right at home! The beds were very comfy and the rooms had everything you need for a pleasant stay. The breakfast was delicious, as Cleo had invested the thought and time to bring in local produce for us to try and on New Year’s Day she even made us a very yummy cooked breakfast. We were very happy to discover the beautiful, quaint town of Lyme Regis and have a nice dinner at South Street Kitchen in Gillingham, which is 10 minutes walking distance away from the B&B – which was all recommended by Cleo, for which we are very grateful.

Peggy the dog is the cutest ever and we were so pleased with how well she got on with our daughter who is two. Not only that, but Cleo even thought about providing some books, DVDs and toys for Amelie (our daughter) to enjoy. The hot tub was definitely one of the highlights of our trip – we can not fault this place in any way and will definitely be returning when Amelie is older and then she can sign the guest book too. Thank you so much again for everything, Cleo, Steve and Peggy :).

wp-1483525435233.jpgAnd the second photo for today is the guest book review in both French and Italian from Florien and Claudia!

My goal for 2017 is to continue to host lots of lovely guests from all around the world and we are off to a flying start so far; our first visitor of the new year drove here (with his dog!) from Holland and we already have guests from Portugal and Belgium booked in. So, whoever and wherever you are as you read this – here’s to a wonderful 2017 and we look forward to hearing from you when you’re ready to make your booking!

 

 

Happy Christmas from Gillingham, Dorset

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Happy holidays, Dorset style!

We said farewell to our last pre-Christmas guest yesterday and now we’re closed for a few days, whilst we celebrate with our family (there will be ten of us!)

We wish you all a very happy holiday season and we look forward to welcoming you to ‘Sunflowers’ in 2017.  We re-open on December 29th.

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Cheers!

And here’s the finished limoncello – it’s absolutely delicious! I’ve tried it in two different cocktails so far, so my Christmas gift to you is a couple of festive cocktail recipes.

Dorset St. Clements

2 measures of limoncello
2 measures of gin
2 measures of freshly squeezed orange juice

Half fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add your ingredients, shake and then strain into a chilled glass. Garnish with a twist of orange peel.

Dorset Lemon Fizz

Dip a champagne flute into lemon juice and then into sugar to create a frosted rim. Add a measure of limoncello and then top up with Prosecco.

Merry Christmas!

More on the power of feeling welcome and included

We were fully booked last weekend, in all three of our rooms; I was delighted to welcome back some returning guests, who first stayed with us last summer and also some new ones, who were in Gillingham to attend a baby shower. Hopefully we will see them again too,  when they come back to the area in the New Year for the baby’s naming ceremony!

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Welcome to Sunflowers

I blogged a few weeks ago about the various nationalities who have passed through our doors this year – since then,  we have welcomed a lady from China and a couple from Ghana; but also quite a few extremely local people who needed a place to stay whilst they went out to a Christmas party. It’s always fascinating to hear the answers to the question “So, what brings you to Gillingham?” and this lovely photo, originally shared by a bed and breakfast owners’ group of which I’m a member, completely sums up my hosting ethos: WELCOME.

Thank you – and a few thoughts on inclusion

2016-08-07-15-16-22Today my friends and former/future guests in the USA are celebrating Thanksgiving. So I give my thanks to everyone who has stayed with us since we opened up the doors of our home – I am truly grateful to you all.

And a few weeks ago, people of Indian/Hindu origin celebrated Diwali,  the festival of light; I’ve spent a lot of time in India and Diwali has always been one of my favourite celebrations. Thinking about these global traditions also coincided with Airbnb publishing its “Community Commitment”, which reminds hosts to treat people fairly and equally and to not display bias or discrimination towards potential or actual guests.  As somebody who spent a long part of my corporate career in a senior diversity and inclusion role, thinking and behaving in an inclusive and welcoming manner is very much in my DNA; now that I’m a Dorset B&B landlady, this is proving to be the most wonderful part of my life.

Today, we received a booking from a lady of Chinese origin,  who will be in the area on business – she will be our first guest from that country. Looking back through my guest book,  I can see “thank you” written in about six different languages and I note that we have hosted  people from countries which include all four corners of the UK, the Republic of Ireland, Nigeria, France, Russia, India, Zimbabwe, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and Poland.

So,  thank you again to all of our wonderful guests – we have loved hosting you and we look forward to all that the future may bring.