Inside the English B&B revealed by TripAdvisor as the second best in the WORLD: MailOnline Travel stays at Maxwell's Piece in the Cotswolds to discover what all the fuss is about
Guest house has been reviewed by more than 260 people, and every single one of them has given it five stars
Maxwell’s Piece is filled with mod-cons including free wifi and a digital fridge and rooms have pristine décor
The property, which is filled with English charm, is particularly popular with American tourists, the owners claim
Maxwell's Piece has been crowned the second best B&B in the world in the TripAdvisor Travellers' Choice Awards
It is not the most beautiful lodging in the Cotswolds. Nor is it the most luxurious.
But Maxwell’s Piece in Moreton-in-Marsh has just been crowned the second-best bed and breakfast in the world in the 2016 TripAdvisor Travellers’ Choice Awards. And competition is stiff, as the awards are determined by millions of reviews and opinions collected in a single year by the review website.
In the 18 months since it opened for business, this three-bedroom guest house has been reviewed on Tripadvisor by more than 260 people. And every single one of them has given it five stars.
Maxwell's Piece was formed of two cottages knocked together, although if guests weren't told, they wouldn't necessarily know it
Inside, the building is bright and airy, with a double-height ceiling in the hallway and a glassy rear which looks out over a pond
In the 18 months since it opened for business, this three-bedroom guest house has been reviewed on Tripadvisor by more than 260 people
This is a tough feat to pull off – especially for a bed and breakfast that looks, well, like so many others.
It was formed of two cottages knocked together, although if guests weren't told, they wouldn't necessarily know it. Inside, the building is bright and airy, with a double-height ceiling in the hallway and a glassy rear which looks out over a pond.
Instead of the low ceilings and cosy stone walls that many would associate with the Cotswolds, the rooms at Maxwell’s Piece are large, with décor that is pristine, if a little bland.
My husband and I stayed in ‘Stowe’, which looks out over the driveway at the front of the house, and has a bathroom so enormous I suspect it could contain some of the flats I have lived in.
It has all mod-cons, as one of the owners, Dave Hollingworth, points out: free Wi-Fi! A digital fridge! A TV!
He and his wife Angela say that their property is particularly popular with American tourists, and I suspect this is one of the reasons: Maxwell’s Piece has just enough history to satisfy their appetite for English charm, but also has all the mod-cons and none of the usual Cotswolds pokiness.
Instead of the low ceilings and cosy stone walls that many would associate with the Cotswolds, the rooms at Maxwell’s Piece are large, with décor that is pristine
The Hollingworths, who own the beautiful B&B, greet guests with a personal note in their rooms and a selection of handmade chocolates
Even so, I can’t believe this would compel hundreds of visitors to write such quite such glowing reviews. They wax lyrical about the smell of the sheets, the yoghurts and the well-appointed rooms.
When I ask the Hollingworths how they have done it, Dave jokes that he has people’s home addresses, and – as someone who used to work in the construction industry – access to plenty of burly builders.
In reality, one can only assume that they are all charmed by Angela and Dave’s careful attention to detail.
The couple text their guests on the day they are due to arrive, wishing them a safe journey – then greet them with personal notes in their rooms, along with delicious handmade chocolates.
They are also only too willing to provide a complimentary taxi service – a great boon for all those city slickers who have escaped to the country for the weekend and still want to be able to drink.
Maxwell’s Piece is up a muddy country road a little way outside Moreton-in-Marsh itself, but Dave ferries guests to and from the station.
And almost as soon as we set foot in the door, he was offering to drive us down to the local pub for dinner that evening.
Maxwell’s Piece is up a muddy country road a little way outside Moreton-in-Marsh itself, but the owners ferry guests to and from the station
The stunning guest house in the Cotswolds has all of the mod-cons, including free wi-fi, a digital fridge, and a TV
At first, I bristled at the slightly too hard sell (I can’t stand following other people’s timetables on holiday) but by the time we were sat at a table in The Plough Inn, in nearby Stretton-on-Fosse, I had come round to its benefits.
I ate rich, creamy risotto, whilst my husband ordered a Brobdingnagian hamburger. This pub’s French chef does not cook for delicate eaters.
The Gallic influence notwithstanding, it feels like a truly local joint, with villagers holding conversations about their health and holiday plans across the diminutive bar. Those inclined to eavesdropping - like myself – will have a field day.
It was only the next day, around the breakfast table, that I realised how many of the people I had spent the evening listening to were also guests at Maxwell’s Piece.
Perhaps I should have been ashamed of my own nosiness at this point, but luckily I had Angela’s breakfast to distract me.
A B&B lives or dies by its fry-up, in my book, and this one was delicious.
The scrambled eggs were yellow and perfect; the locally-sourced sausages memorably tasty.
The rooms leave guests feeling properly rested, but it is hard to put your finger on the thing that makes this place so special
And for guests who wanted to eat healthily (or simply double up on breakfast) there was fresh fruit and cereal.
This is where many guests would also start talking about the yoghurts Maxwell’s Piece serves – and it may also be where Dave revealed his secret to top-flight reviews. As we tucked in he told us that he had bet his supplier that he could make sure guests mentioned them in their reviews.
Instead of asking them to do so outright, he mentioned them just enough times to make sure they were firmly planted in people’s minds, without them even realising what has happened.
He won his bet almost immediately.
As we drove off on Sunday morning, ready to meander back to London, I wondered how much he had used that technique to boost reviews on TripAdvisor.
But I also realised that Maxwell’s Piece had done the trick: we both felt properly rested. It is just hard to put your finger on the thing that makes this place so special.