Hotel hidden gems – what to really look out for

porto bayWhether you’re wanting to stay in a remote cottage or a boutique hotel in the middle of a city, you’re always hoping to find that special somewhere, that ‘hidden gem.’ But how do you go out about it? How can you find this special place to stay?

Gary Swarbrooke, Director of Policy and Quality at Quality in Tourism, discusses why quality is an absolute must for all ‘hidden gems’ and what to look out for when trying to book yours…

Finding somewhere unique to stay

Secrets are intriguing to all of us. The fact that nobody else really knows is the best part, especially when this involves accommodation. Anybody who fancies a weekend away with a difference needs to discover one of the UK’s hidden gems. When choosing to stay in a hidden gem, one of the greatest things about it is the simple uniqueness of it. Chances are the Jones’ next door haven’t even heard of it let alone been – so it enables you to go on a truly individual break.

It does not necessarily have to be up a mountain or in the middle of nowhere (although it could be!). Hidden gems can be found anywhere, from busy city centres to locations slightly off the beaten track.

They are basically a property which is regarded as a hidden treasure, something that is unspoilt, and when stumbled upon provides you with an experience that exceeds your expectations.

Hidden gems tread a very fine line between staying hidden and becoming too popular. There is a real art to accommodation types promoting themselves as a ‘special’ unspoilt place to stay, whilst still attracting enough guests to make sure their business is profitable, so that they can keep reinvesting. Key to this is providing a high quality experience.

Seven ways to see if you’ve found a hidden gem of a hotel

  1.  With this in mind, here are a few telltale signs to look out for that will suggest the place you are looking to book is indeed a ‘hidden gem’ establishment: Are they doing things differently to their competitors? After all, that’s what will make them a gem of a place to stay. Exclusivity can be a major factor in making an establishment a ‘hidden gem.
  2. Have they got an easy to use and informative website? Does it focus on what makes them different from other properties in the area; does it have plenty of evocative photos of their bedrooms, leisure facilities and food?
  3. There are plenty of travel writers and bloggers who provide unbiased reviews. They also tend to write about up-and-coming places to stay/eat so be sure to check them out.
  4. Another consideration is do they use social media? if yes, check out their Twitter and Facebook pages. A high quality establishment that is in tune with its guests; understanding that engagement is key to making them a gem of a place to stay, where guests are always priority.
  5. Many reputations have been built, and lost, on the quality of the food. Before booking ask to see a sample menu, does it seem something special? Or just something very normal? Also, ask about their breakfast – It’s the last meal you will have before checking out and it’s one of the last things you’ll remember about the place you stayed. There’s no better way to start the day than with a quality breakfast!
  6. What’s nearby? Any nice pubs/restaurants etc? Or will you be in the middle of nowhere? It’s what’s on-site and offsite that will help bring that extra bit of quality to your holiday and really make that hidden gem shine.
  7. Finally, is the establishment accredited!?! All accommodation types are awarded quality marks to help you determine the quality of accommodation and the amenities provided. So make sure you know what you’re booking and if it’s the right quality level for you! If it’s not high quality, then perhaps it’s not the gem you’re looking for…
country cottage pond
Duck Dive Cottage, Cornwall. Image courtesy of Michelle Simmons, via Flikr.

 *Main image courtesy of Porto Bay Hotels and Resorts.Â

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