PitStop Bead & Breakfast – Melvyn & Sindy Rutter Interview
The PitStop Bed & Breakfast, owned by Morgan Car enthusiasts Melvyn & Sindy Rutter, certainly offers something different. This boutique accommodation, based in Little Hallingbury in Essex, boasts four individually themed guest rooms and a help yourself American Diner. You can also hire one of their beautiful cream morgans for the day. Their daughter Mariella tells us more.
What made you decide to combine your love of Morgans with opening up a B&B?
In the late 1990’s we had Morgan owners arriving here late in the afternoon, having purchased parts from us, wanting accommodation. Stansted Airport hadn’t been developed back then so there was a lack of hotels and B&B’s in the area and we saw an opportunity for a new business venture.
Is owning a Bed & Breakfast all you dreamed it would be?
Yes, in fact it exceeds expectations. We get such great feedback on Trip Advisor and Booking.com which is so appreciated as running a B&B isn’t as easy as people think it is. A highlight for us of running the PitStop was appearing on Channel 4’s “Four in a Bed” and being named best value B&B.
You have a real unique style at the Pitstop from Edwardian through to Art Deco – what influenced your design?
We wanted to create an experience for our guests and provide something unique and exciting, not the run of the mill ‘standard’ hotel where every room is identical. The PitStop building was built specifically to be a B&B so it was a blank canvas to fit out. By individually designing and styling the rooms we’ve had guests return just so they can experience the different room themes.
I love your ‘Diner’, it really does have the wow factor. How does the self service work for your guests?
The idea was to allow guests to feel at ease and not have regimented breakfast times. We stock all the continental breakfast essentials plus more; eggs, jams, bread, cheese, yoghurts, juice, the list goes on. Guests can then choose to eat at any time, including on arrival if they really wanted. The diner can also be used in evenings to cook your own dinner or order in a take away, as we live separately there’s no need to feel you’re encroaching on the owners space.
One of your reviews on Trip Advisor described Melvyn as ‘probably the worlds nicest man’, great praise indeed – what do you think is most important when welcoming your guests?
Greeting people with a friendly attitude and a big smile thereby making them feel comfortable as they walk in the door. For 41 years we’ve been putting a smile on the faces of Morgan owners who visit and for the last 8 years we’ve been doing the same for PitStop guests. Fundamentally you just need to make a positive first impression as it sets the mood for the stay.
I think you must be the only B&B where you can also hire a Morgan car for the day – do the majority of your guests take up this option?
They do indeed hire the cars but it’s generally in advance of their stay. It’s rare to have an impulse hirer however we’ve had a lot of people return so that they can link up a room with one of the hire Morgans.
Lastly, what would be your tip tips to run a successful B&B?
A good web presence, whether it be through your own website, a booking agents or a review portal. Consistency – in terms of the service you provide, cleanliness, facilities and guest support. Finally, getting people to write reviews on Trip Advisor or various websites as it has such an impact on where people choose to stay nowadays and can be the deciding factor when confirming a booking.
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