Andy Banner-Price, co-owner, The 25 Boutique, Torquay
We were once asked for a roll of cling film so a guest could wrap it round his soft top car as the roof had a leak in it.
Hugo Woolley, co-owner, Woodlands Country House, Padstow
Ages ago, when we first opened, we decided that we would welcome dogs, as Padstow is full of them, on holiday, with their owners. Alastair Sawday’s – before Booking.com came along – asked if we took dogs, and we said we did. But they put on our profile page that we accept pets, not just dogs.
A French couple asked if they could bring their Siamese Cat. We said that would be fine. But then they said that they would not be taking the cat out during the day, to the beach. “Won’t that upset the cat when we clean your room?” my wife asked. “No,” the French guest said, “just go in there and clean, she is very friendly. But she only understands French!” Our school-days French was well tested.
We then received a request whether we would accept a rabbit. When the couple in question checked in, they told us with great pride that the rabbit was a very rare, prize-winning rabbit called Norbert. One evening they asked if we would baby-sit the rabbit. We could not say no – it was just a rabbit after all. But then we were told that he was very sensitive and not to frighten him or he would have a seizure! We spent all evening with Strictly Come Dancing turned right down and whispering at each other. The rabbit spent this time looking out of his cage at us, with a constant worried look on his face and his nose rapidly twitching away. We were continuously wondering what to do if Norbert had an ‘episode’ and how we would treat it. How do you give a rabbit mouth to muzzle resuscitation? Luckily, Norbert survived the evening without any complications.
Shannon Slater-Dent, co-owner, Bove Town House, Glastonbury
I was asked how my washing was done, and whether the duvet, sheets or any other bedding hit the floor. Rather than lie, I had to say I could not guarantee that at no point did the duvet or sheets make contact with the floor. We don’t throw stuff on the floor, but how can anyone guarantee that laundry has not hit the floor at any stage? We wash it here then send it out to be ironed and I said we can’t guarantee that the laundry facility would not allow it to touch the floor at any particular point.
Mark Hinchliffe, owner, The Chapel B&B, Harrogate
I have had some strange request over the years. The strangest was a couple from Turin who want to get married in the Chapel B&B. She is in love with Tony Hadley from Spandau Ballet and wants Tony Hadley singing Gold at the wedding, and her husband-to-be dressed as Elvis. It will happen.
Karen Smith, co-owner, Tigh Na Leigh Guest House, Perthshire
I had a guest asking for a cooked breakfast – with a boiled egg cooked for a specific length of time – six minutes precisely. People don’t generally ask for things like that.
Dan Visser, director, Langdale Hotel, Lake District
A guest who had booked two or three rooms wanted to check out and they wanted help with return travel to London. They asked a manager to help them book a train. He came back saying he had booked four seats on a train. But no came the reply, we wanted you to book a train. This guest was adamant that we would be able to book an entire train in order to be able to travel in private. We did our best but we had to tweak their expectation slightly.
Victoria Tagg, Hurst Farm B&B, Kent
Just after we opened we had a last-minute booking from a single man who showed up a short time later on foot and carrying just a small back pack. He went to bed very early and didn’t emerge again until sometime after lunch the following day. A man of very few words, he then went for a walk and returned some hours later carrying a single daffodil. The following morning he rose and then sat in the sitting room staring out the window, holding his daffodil. He then simply disappeared without saying goodbye. Strange, but harmless!
Fiona Gardham, co-owner, Eighteen 97, North York Moors
“Every day I cook and Tim does the front of house, and every day when Tim would go to take the breakfast order and this particular guest would simply say, “Surprise me,” rather than giving a breakfast order. On each occasion Tim would say he needed to give a breakfast order or he wouldn’t get anything. He was something of a challenge,” she recalls, adding: “That same guest on his last morning asked as the rain poured in rivers down the road asked what the weather was going to do that day!”