Wolsey Lodge B&Bs that are also stars of the Small Screen

film cue card

It isn’t surprising that top B&Bs should appear on British TV. There are several reasons for this: here we look over some Wolsey Lodges that have starred in various shows, and look at what makes them such a ratings success.

Overall, the combination of picturesque settings, personal interactions, potential for drama, and diverse guest experiences make B&Bs a popular choice for reality TV shows seeking engaging and entertaining content. Some Wolsey Lodges have starred in shows of their own, giving you the chance to get a sneak introduction to your hosts before you actually meet.

Tall John’s House B&B, Brecon Beacons

Tall John's House Bed and Breakfast
Tall John’s House

Most recently featured is Tall John’s House, which appeared in Channel Four’s ‘Four in a Bed’ back in 2017. This show is where four B&Bs sample each other’s accommodation – and often offer some very critical reviews.

Four in a Bed
Four in a Bed: October 2017

This episode shows the climax of four programmes, when three B&Bs have already been inspected and come together for a last time to sample a stay at Tall John’s House in Wales. Grab an early introduction to your hosts Robin and Liza and an instant preview of their Georgian Mansion. It is, perhaps, unsurprising they win their series.

The success of the programme lies in the way it personalises the experience. Robin and Liza’s history is clearly sketched out, from when they first settled into their Brecon Beacons home – and realised they’d need some way of making the house pay its way. They come over as charming owners and excellent hosts: perfect for a family-run B&B.

Further drama is added by the other guests. These are all B&B owners, some smarting after recieving critical reviews – from each other – during previous installments of the series. The scene is set for some drama and conflict. All ends well – but not too well, adding a touch of reality.

And finally it adds a touch of escapism. Tall John’s House looks a lovely property in a beautiful part of the world. I’m tempted to book it up now.

Warwick Hall B&B, Cumbria

Warwick Hall
Warwick Hall B&B

It seems somewhat unfair to include a youtube copy of Warwick Hall‘s chance at stardom: it was all filmed a long time ago and so much has changed. But when they put themselves forward for Channel Four’s ‘The Hotel Inspector’ they can’t have expected a soft-soaped overview.

the hotel inspector
The Hotel Inspector, 2017

‘The Hotel Inspector’ is where Alex Polizzi visits ailing or failing hotels and offers them some very forthright advice. This feeds into the natural drama inherent in any hospitality business, with its range of challenges. Decor, service, and personell all come under Alex’s razor-like scrutiny – and she doesn’t hold back.

So it can’t have made easy viewing for Val Marriner, your host at Warwick Hall, when it aired in 2017. As one guest said on camera after a sligthly chaotic stay there were too many ‘Faulty Towers’ moments to justify the price and, as Alex Polizzi pointed out competition is fierce for B&Bs in Cumbria: you need to offer plenty to retain your place in the market.

Fortunately it’s Val herself who saves the show. Her sense of humour shows through – as does her remarkable ability to turn constructive criticism into actuall improvement. I’ve stayed here and it’s now a remarkable place to stay, beautifully furnished with huge guest bedrooms with open fires. What was in 2017 a rather desolate attempt to run a busy kitchen single-handed has been transformed by sub-contracting out the catering: breakfasts are slick and professional, while in the evenings the busy a la carte restaurant offers probably the best food anywhere near Carlisle, with a choice of meals every night of the week.

Vera at Warwick Hall
Vera at Warwick Hall’s dining room

More recently Warwick Hall was also the setting for Vera, (ITV, Series 9 episode 3), where the interior and exterior is clearly seen. Many thanks to regular guest Heather Erridge for pointing this out. It’s well worth a watch, though new viewers might need to register with ITV to stream it: the episode is online here or click on the dining room image.

Apart from film crews following marauding murderers, Warwick Hall still maintains its distinct, Val-inspired character. Barely ten minutes from the motorway it’s become a hugely popular stop-off for travellers breaking the journey to or from Scotland.  Dogs are still welcome – it sometimes seems it is the human guests on sufferance – and it’s a lovely place to stay. You can walk along the River Eden and then relax on the terrace, breathing in the clear country air and summoning a waiter to bring gin.

Crow Leasow B&B, near Ludlow

Crow Leasow B&B guest House
Crow Leasow B&B

A last source of drama is offered by a general wish to escape the rat race, to head out to the country and take on a major renovation project as well as building a new way of life. And this was the USP of Channel Four’s ‘Great Hotel Escape’ that aired in 2019. In this Gogglebox stars (and ex-hoteliers) Stephanie and Dominic Parker help families who have risked everything to run their own hotel.

the great hotel escape Crow Leasow trailer
The Great Hotel Escape trailer

One of the B&Bs to star in the pilot was Crow Leasow near Ludlow. When Channel Four were shooting the first episodes Sally and Robin Kellard had just bought Crow Leasow and were renovating it to open as a luxury B&B. Their struggles and successes were aired, along with other potential hotels, for the first five programs in the series. Sally Kellard told me ‘I haven’t watched them all I don’t think. There were just too many of them.

It seems unfortunate, then, that despite being relatively recent among the TV programs discussed here, the series itself is no longer available on Channel Four, and even Youtube yields only a trailer. This means your only way to fully experience this charming B&B is to haul yourself over to Ludlow and book one of their three guest bedrooms. With a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere the Kellard’s have created a wonderful place to stay.

Long Crendon Manor B&B, Bucks

Long Crendon Manor B&B - facade with vintage car
Long Crendon Manor B&B

Long Crendon Manor hasn’t been in any of these new-fangled reality TV programs. Instead it’s been a media mainstay for period dramas, with its interior specially valued. As one of the country’s oldest and most beautifully-restored properties this is perhaps unsurprising.

The Woman in Black trailer
The Woman in Black trailer

On the big screen it was used to film Daniel Radcliffe in ‘The Woman in Black’, as a background to romps in ‘The Private Lives of Henry VIII’ and taking a darker turn for ‘The Seven Dials Mystery’. More prosaically its wood-panelled walls and polished floors have been in countless Midsomer Murders, one of the better police procedurals to fill daytime TV schedules.

The only problem is it’s not always easy to tell which scenes Long Crendon Manor is in. The larger the budget the more sets will be used, and the more edits to stitch it all together. The only way to know is to book yourself in for a stay of a few nights, that way you can scout out the angles and work out how it might film at its best.

And don’t expect cobwebs. Or, of course, ghosts. Long Crendon Manor is polished to perfection and not remotely haunted.

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