Brackenbury House (Portland, Dorset)
Member Name: musicreviewer80s
Brackenbury House (Portland, Dorset)
Date: 28/07/12, updated on 28/07/12 (97 review reads)
Advantages: Friendly, clean, cosy, well looked after, good price
Disadvantages: None for the type of accommodation it is
The owners have described the B&B themselves nicely: "Brackenbury House is situated on Portland in the centre of the Jurassic Coast. We are a 3 star family run bed and breakfast with 5 bedrooms close to restaurants, local shops and public transport. A multitude of sea and rural views are within easy reach, and the historic town of Weymouth is a short distance away. Sporting facilities include Sailing, Diving, Fishing, Climbing, Walking and Bird Watching etc."
Portland is a limestone tied island, connected by Chesil Beach to Weymouth, and of course surrounded by the sea. Whilst the popular holiday destination Weymouth offers plenty of activity from shopping, beaches, attractions and a good amount of nightlife, Portland is more for those looking to take in some fantastic scenery and enjoy walking.
Being born in Dorchester, I lived in Weymouth for roughly four years before the family moved to Portland where I spent my childhood growing up in the best place I could ever imagine. Although we moved to Cornwall in 2005, I still like to visit Portland and hope to live nearby in the future. After not visiting Portland for almost two years, me and my now ex-girlfriend decided to get to Weymouth on the train, meet up with an old friend of mine and stay overnight, catching the train back home the next day. This was December 2010, our first stay at Brackenbury House.
I had originally looked for simple accommodation, something that wouldn't turn out too costly. A search online revealed Brackenbury House to be an obvious choice, and a place I recalled the location of. Booking a room was very easily done through email and after meeting up with my old friend and spending the day looking around Portland, we arrived at the B&B and were greeted by the couple who run the house. Being the first time I've ever stayed somewhere without my family, I found the quiet atmosphere and friendly reception excellent. After our stay, we returned again in April 2011 for two nights to see a couple of my friends and again in September 2011 for another two nights, just to see Portland as the two of us. All three visits were in the same room.
The B&B has five rooms available, one double room with an en-suite, two twin rooms with an en-suite, one double room with a separate bathroom and one double room with semi en-suite (shower and wash basin). Although we were only in one room each stay, I am sure that all other four rooms are in exceptional condition. As stated on the website, although the house, both outside and the rooms, has undergone much restoration over the years, most of the original features remain and the house still retains its original character, which is certainly true in my opinion. Also, as a family based B&B, the guests were very considerate and we ourselves were never once disturbed at any point by anyone during our stays.
The house on the outside is very nice, having a well looked after image, including some attractive foliage outside. Although not used by us, two free parking areas are also available whilst the B&B will make special parking arrangements for you should these spaces be occupied. Located along the main road which allows traffic to come from Fortuneswell and make their way higher up the island, towards Easton, there is the sound of traffic but this isn't unbearably loud at all, far from it. As our room was at the front of the building, we were at our closest to the road outside and as one of Portland's busiest roads, we still easily got some good sleep as the solid windows do keep the traffic noise to a minimum.
Inside, the corridors of the B&B were also very nice, well decorated and exceptionally clean. As you come through the main door, there is an inner door and then the downstairs hallway. On the left is a private lounge for the owners and on the right is the dining room for breakfast. Straight past the stairs are further private rooms and the kitchen. All five rooms are located upstairs, which is where the guests will be at all times aside from breakfast, as although there is no guest lounge area, the rooms are fully comfortable for relaxing and taking it easy.
Our room was a twin room, both nicely decorated, tidy, clean smelling and comfortable for two people. Although the room size is limited, the furniture doesn't demand all the room so moving around is still easy. The decoration is a nice green colour, not too light or too dark, as well as patterned wallpaper for the bottom half of the walls. Coming through the stable and secure door to the room, a non-operational fireplace is seen, a nice addition to the room, patterned with a mix of black, brown and grey. With this fireplace, there are plenty of leaflets to look at, based on local attractions in Dorset and some artificial flowers, as well as a small mirror above. The leaflets and brochures had me interested as during our short rests from walking during the day, an hour or so can be used to read through some of them, and obviously help guests decide where they might like to go.
Each bed was comfortable, clean, fully made and overall very satisfactory, not once did I have a problem falling asleep although after a long day of travelling and walking, sleep was probably unavoidable anyway. As mentioned, the other guests on all occasions were considerate and quiet, allowing plenty of relaxing time should a guest want it at any point in the day as well as the night. Overall, the beds were in good condition with no faults whatsoever.
For each bed, a bedside drawer is available, a useful and obvious feature which has a working lamp, whilst on the side of the far bed, a small table holds another easy to use lamp. A strong and good sized wardrobe is also available, along with a chest of draws, again roomy for the holiday luggage. On the far side of the room, the windows are large and therefore allow plenty of light in, with some fully effective curtains for the night. Certain parts of the windows open with ease should the guest want some air. This is also useful should the room seem too hot although on every stay, the room's temperature was perfect and never a problem - never once too hot, particularly during the night. Perhaps one slight issue is the sound of the traffic outside, mainly at night although the room is never over-heated anyway. In front of the window, a nice and fitting vanity desk is complete with a comfortable stool, with a wastebasket next to it.
All rooms come with colour TV, which has a Freeview box, with our particular TV attached to the wall, allowing both beds a good view. The TV has a remote and worked perfectly fine on all stays with no problems. All rooms also have a clock and the facility to make tea and coffee. This is located on the chest of drawers, with a good quality kettle, clean mugs as well as the obvious tea/coffee essentials, including milk and sugar. Two ordinary drinking glasses are also provided.
As previously mentioned, the owners were friendly, polite and pleasant on every visit, and as a couple run B&B, no extra staff is needed. This is certainly no issue though as the entire B&B is perfectly clean and run very well. On each stay we were given the options of having our rooms cleaned whilst we are out of the house, and although we personally tried to keep the room clean enough ourselves, our room received an excellent tidy up whilst we were out. Upon coming back, the room looked the same way it had done when we first arrived, extremely tidy and fresh.
The bathroom, although small, has all the essentials intact. The stay includes towels, a small but still fully useable shower, along with an obvious sink and mirror, as well as a perfectly clean toilet and another wastebasket. The bathroom, on all occasions, has been very clean and fully comfortable with a working lock, something that numerous hotels and B&Bs on previous family holidays didn't have. The essential soap and toilet paper was included, along with a toilet brush. Although indeed small, the bathroom is perfectly comfortable enough to use.
Guests are able to check in on their arrival after 2:00pm and should vacate their room by 10:30am on the day of departure. Should this prove a problem, alternate times may be possible by prior arrangement. In regards to smoking, the B&B is a non-smoking establishment at all times whilst in relation to pets, dogs are welcome with advance warning. Guests are given a key to access not just their room but the main door of the house, so that guests are able to enter and exit whenever they desire without the requirement of others.
For guests, additional essentials are available on request; hairdryers, iron and ironing boards, additional blankets and pillows, high chair for a young child and a child's travel cot. Another addition is internet access for those with laptops etc. The B&B is in a BT Wi-Fi Hotspot Area, where the guests can gain access to the internet by obtaining various passes directly from the BT site. Understandably, any internet problems are down to BT and not the B&B.
On all three of our stays, we didn't once have breakfast and therefore we were kindly given a small discount off on the second and final stay. Not being breakfast people, we had no need for any of it although from glimpses of the dining room, the room was clean and well presented, much like the rest of the B&B. I'm certainly positive that the breakfast service would be friendly and pleasant throughout. A choice of continental or a full English breakfast is available from 7:30am to 9:00am. Any allergies or special dietary requirements should be sorted in advance. Although Brackenbury House doesn't offer lunch or evening meals, there are plenty of excellent places to eat around the area, so this is no problem whatsoever.
As mentioned beforehand, booking the stay is very easy and convenient. For bookings made more than 2 weeks in advance, a deposit of £50 or 25% of the total cost of your holiday is required, whichever one is the greater. For bookings made less that 2 weeks in advance, full payment is due at time of reservation. Should the guest(s) decide to pay the deposit via cheque, a Bankers Guarantee card is needed. Otherwise payment can be made by cash, with the local co-op nearby having access to a free-of-charge ATM machine, as the B&B cannot accept debit or credit cards. In regards to cancellations, a 100% deposit refund can be given if the holiday is cancelled before 30 days, 50% deposit refund before 15 days and a 0% deposit refund if less than 7 days. A nice possibility is that a full refund will be given if the B&B manage to re-let the cancelled room for the same period as originally booked.
Prices for the rooms are at very good value for what they are as all rooms are £27 per person per night, where this includes the choice of continental or full English breakfast. Discounts are also available for bookings in excess of six consecutive nights subject to Time of Year & Volume Occupation.
Over our three stays, we were able to get the bus to Weymouth and walk around the area, the shops and the beach. There are plenty of activities available within Weymouth as well as plenty of pubs and restaurants located all around the area. There are numerous attractions such as the Nothe Fort, a historic fort built in 1872 by the water's edge, overlooking Portland. This fort is a museum with plenty of world war II memorabilia, a visit is very worthwhile, again with good views. Not forgetting the Sea Life Adventure Park too, an aquarium which from what I remember is certainly worthwhile although this was a very long time ago as a young child. Near to the Sea Life Park is The Lodmoor Country Park, a 350 acre site overlooking the Weymouth Bay, perfect for families. Condor Ferries are also available for day trips to the Channel Islands of Jersey or Guernsey, whilst other local boat trips are available, giving you some great views. For young children, Sharkey's is very recommended, a large indoor soft play park which in recent years has now got a Laser Zone. Sharkey's is not far from the beach which also has a good amusement arcade near to the Weymouth Pavilion venue. Relating to the amusement arcade, there are plenty of other arcades about as well as the Lakeside Superbowl for those who want a game of tenpin bowling.
Portland itself is easily explored from Brackenbury House, our visits allowed us to walk all across the island, being about four miles long and 1.5 miles wide. Aside from the wonderful views of the land and sea, as well as some very good pubs located around the island, there is plenty to do on the island, all in walking distance for those who are keen to go on foot. One recommended pub is The Cove House Inn, a nice pub that sits right next to Chesil Beach. With Portland being famous for it's stone, there are a few working quarries that can be seen from a distance, an interesting site. Tout Quarry is a non-operational quarry, where visitors can enjoy the walks around the area whilst viewing some nice sculptures. During the Christmas, Easter and Summer holidays, Portland Market is open on Tuesday in Easton, not far from Brackenbury House. Above the B&B is Verne Common which allows you to take in the glorious views from high up, overlooking Fortuneswell, Chesil Beach and towards the mainland.
Both Portland Castle and Portland Bill Lighthouse are two key attractions, with the castle being near the Sailing Academy which is also for the 2012 Sailing Olympics. The castle was built by Henry VIII to defend England and was also used in both world wars. The lighthouse is available to go inside during the peak season and very worthwhile for a good price. Although I haven't been to Portland Castle in years, it is an interesting visit whilst we went to the top of the lighthouse in April, and of course there are a lot of steps to climb but the view is excellent from the top. Other highlights are the coastal walks, Portland Museum, that we saw in September, a small but very nice museum that highlights a lot of Portland's history and Church Ope Cove, a small secluded beach right near the museum. Finally, Chesil Beach can be seen stretching from the island across a big part of the Dorset coast, a total of 18 miles. For those who have an interest in it, Portland Spa is a new addition, a premier luxury day spa & health club.
In recent times, Portland's first large supermarket was built, a Tesco, which is also in walking distance of Brackenbury House, located in Easton. On both 2011 visits, we would take an evening stroll to Tesco, although a Co-Op is down the road from the B&B. An Esso petrol station is located in Easton should the guest(s) have a car, with a Texaco also available in Wyke Regis, the nice village between Portland and Weymouth. Portland itself has all the essential shops so nobody would be forced to travel to Weymouth.
This site highlights the whole of Dorset and many great attractions which are outside of Weymouth and Portland: http://www.visit-dorset.com/
A great site here lists many attractions for visitors to the area as well as plenty of other information: http://www.visitweymouth.co.uk/
An excellent site about Portland's history, also covering each area of the island can be found online by Geoff Kirby. This site features many old photos, showing Portland's development through time as well as providing plenty of wonderful information: http://www.geoffkirby.co.uk/Portland/
For sure though, those looking for a very reasonably priced B&B on Portland, Brackenbury House is one of the best options. Compared to Weymouth, there are not that many B&Bs on Portland, and so being in the area that it is, Brackenbury House is perfect for those looking to explore Portland thoroughly. Another good point about the B&B is that the location is also perfect for those wishing to visit Weymouth, only five miles away and easily travelled to via car or bus. The B&B is not highly fancy, and it isn't meant to be, therefore perfect for those looking for a comfortable and simple place to stay with all essentials included. For those who wish to have more on-site facilities will of course benefit more from staying at a hotel, but as a B&B, everything that Brackenbury House offers is first rate. At the time of writing, one Google review from a previous guest gives the B&B a full 5/5 rating. For what Brackenbury House is meant to be, a simple and pleasant place to stay, the B&B does a wonderful job with no major issues whatsoever. With polite and friendly owners, a well decorated house, clean and spotless rooms and a nice atmosphere, Brackenbury House is thoroughly recommended.
On an additional note, a bit of research shows that the house is up for sale although the B&B is still running fully with the usual service. On our stays, there was no indication that the house was on offer. I do hope that any future owners will continue to keep this great house as a B&B.
A website for Brackenbury House can be found here: http://www.brackenburyhouse.co.uk/
Brackenbury House Address:
01305 826509 - Landline
0800 0836637 - Free Phone
07940 851568 / 07973 877172 - Mobile
Some small photos of the corridor, dining room etc can be found on the B&B's website and here: http://www.portlandholidaylet.co.uk/bed-and-breakf ast/brackenbury-house.php
Review originally posted on Ciao
Summary: A very worthwhile B&B, offering some excellent service all around