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If you're the sort of traveller that craves in-the-know tips and boutique style, who values charm and comfort and loves to skip the large-scale hotels for something indelibly local, the classic guest house stay is ready to tick all the boxes. Forget generic check-in procedures and wave hello to the personal touch at the reception desk. Get ready for rooms that have unique flourishes and thoughtful design features aplenty. Prepare to be looked after by locals with a passion for their home. It's all in the name of making that trip just a little more special and authentic.
There are 2 things that set guest houses apart from the main hotel crowd. There's the size, which typically means you'll be sharing your stay with just a few other travellers in a few other rooms. And then there's the character, which often fuses elements of the modern with a touch of the local, mingling vintage fabrics and furnishings with flat-screen TVs, putting hearty English tearooms downstairs from contemporary suites.
The UK is the home of the guest house, which means you'll be able to pick out these characterful stays everywhere from the electrifying heart of central London to the sleepy suburbs of Cardiff, from the fishing towns of Cornwall to the remote villages of the Scottish Highlands. Of course, it's likely that all the places you find will vary immensely. Some might have swish lounges and on-site coffee shops, others hearty alehouses or simple pub-style rooms with exposed beams and cottagey interiors.
Guest houses in York offer a perfect example of how these sorts of stays can mirror the personality of the place they're in. They range from elegant 5-star boutique hotels to simple English homes with a couple of rooms like Queen Anne's Guest House, often channeling the warm welcome of the North, and capturing aspects of York's medieval and modern history in their design.
It's a similar story when it comes to guest houses in Edinburgh and guest houses in London. The former sit sandwiched between the Gothic and Neo-Classical rises of the UNESCO-tagged New Town and Old Town of the Scottish capital, offering a cosy bolthole in the shadow of mighty Edinburgh Castle. The latter, like the VIP Wesley near UCL, channel the edginess of the English capital with clean-look, minimalist rooms, airy bathrooms and a prime location.