Advantages: Reasonable price, no extra charge for singles, all diets catered for and a relaxed place to stay.
Disadvantages: Not easy to tell it's a B&B from the road and no on-suite bathrooms (didn't bother me!).
When I decided I wanted to stay in a bed and breakfast in York the first thing I did was a Google search for "York vegan B&B" because it was important to me that they'd be able to cater for my diet (there's no point paying for bed and BREAKFAST if you can't have the brekkie!).
The place that showed up regularly in the results was this one, York Alternative B&B, their website is:
After doing a bit more Googling I decided this place would be worth a try so I sent an e-mail asking if they had a room available on the nights I needed and in less than 24 hours they gave me a phone call to confirm they had. I didn't book straight away as I wanted to organise my coach/train ticket first to be sure I could actually get there for a reasonable price but they were happy to reserve the room for me for a few days.
The actual booking was really straight forward; I just phoned back then sent a deposit for £32 (the cost of one night's stay) and let them know when I'd be arriving. They sounded really friendly on the phone and checked that I knew how to get to them and that I wanted vegan breakfasts.
Using the directions and map links from their website I was able to find the place easily, taking just ten minutes to walk from the train station. However, as you can see from the photo, York Alternative Bed and Breakfast is a house that's been converted into a B&B and it's not obvious that it's a B&B as there's no sign outside and it was hard to see the house number due to the garden being a bit overgrown. I don't mind 'natural' gardens but I would've expected a house number on their gate so travellers can clearly see they're in the right place.
On arrival Di Hennell, the person who runs the B&B with help from her husband, gave me a warm greeting, an information pack, a quick tour of the place and asked if there was any specific information about the city I wanted or if I needed anything.
I was staying in the 'lizard room' (I've called it this because it was decorated with lots of lizard models, pictures etc.) which contains the two single beds. I felt there was plenty of space for two people to share this room although I was travelling alone. It had a real 'home' feeling to it (as does the rest of the B&B) with knickknacks on shelves, books to read, a TV, spare blankets, bedside lamps etc.
There was tea/coffee making facilities and soya milk was provided for me although I made more use of the filtered water as I'm not really a hot-drinks-person! As the water was just stored at room temperature it wasn't cold which didn't bother me but I know many people prefer water to be colder. There was also Original Source bathroom products (shower gel, shampoo, and conditioner) for me to use during my stay which is fantastic as they're vegan, cruelty-free and smell great!
Each visitor is given a laminated card on which to mark their choices for breakfast and asked to leave it outside their room by 10pm the day before. I really liked the sound of the cinnamon toast so I chose that for my first morning.
I was given a key to the house so that I could come and go as I pleased during the day but I wasn't given a key to my room which did make me a bit concerned about leaving my belongings there. However as the B&B only has two guest rooms and is quite small I thought that it would be too risky for other guests to steal my stuff so I put my trust in Di and her hubby, and I wasn't disappointed - my things were safe all day.
Overnight my bedroom wasn't too hot or too cold but I could've opened a window or popped an extra blanket on the bed if I'd needed to. The bed was comfortable and I had a wonderful night's sleep.
I stayed for two nights so enjoyed two breakfasts as well! I enjoyed the cinnamon toast so much on the first morning that I chose it for the second one too! Di used a homemade seeded loaf to make it and it tasted lovely (I'm now trying to recreate it to have at home!). There were also different cereals to choose from as well as toast and fruit. It was all very tasty and great not to have to worry about checking ingredients labels or asking lots of questions about what was vegan as Di had sorted it all for me.
I met Hoover the cat on my second morning (there's a whole page on their website dedicated to him!). He was really friendly but Di warned me that he can act all friendly one second and then suddenly nip. He must've liked me because I left with nip-free hands! Considering a cat is in residence, there were no noticeable cat hairs or the typical 'catty' smell you sometimes get.
The bathroom had a bath with an electric shower attached, toilet and sink, and is shared by everyone staying in the house. It was clean and airy with plenty of space for dressing and has a towel-drying rack too. I'm normally one of these people that has to ask others how to use a shower when staying with friends or family but I managed to figure out the B&B's shower easily so it must've been simple to use!
On my departure I settled my bill and handed back my door key. Di said I could use my room for a bit longer if I wanted to leave my bags there while I went for a walk before my bus was due but I declined as it was just easier to take them with me.
Overall, York Alternative B&B is a really chilled and relaxed place to stay for the ethical traveller (all the products they use are environmentally friendly, locally produced or homemade when possible, not tested on animals, fair trade and organic!) and it feels just like staying at a relatives house as there are photos, pictures, knickknacks, plants etc. all over the place. Some would say it was cluttered but I really liked it as I love looking around at what people have on display in their homes (my house is just as 'cluttered'!).
When I go back to York I definitely intend to stay here again and am going to recommend it to any of my friends/family who will be visiting York, five stars! It's an 'alternative' to all the other B&B's out there and that's definitely a good thing :)