A MARRIED couple, who started up a guesthouse in a former mill, are celebrating after being named the best B&B in the UK.

Jane and Neil McNair of the Low Mill Guesthouse in Bainbridge, near Leyburn, took home the UK's Best B&B award at the 2019 Food and Travel Magazine awards in London.

The couple, who retired from a life in the capital several years ago, said it was a "complete surprise" when they were told that they had beaten off the competition at the Royal Automobile Club on Monday, September 16.

The Northern Echo:

Mr McNair said: "It was a complete surprise, more than 50,000 readers voted in the awards – we come out top when the readers voted for their winner."

Mr McNair, a former builder, and Mrs McNair, a former veterinary practitioner, said they had no idea that they had been nominated for the awards until they received a letter in towards the end of June.

He said: "We didn't know that we had been nominated for it, and it was an every bigger surprise to win.

"June was really pleased about it, we were excited to win it. We don't even know who voted for us or where the votes come from."

At the awards, Mr McNair rubbed shoulders with some of the industry's best chefs, before he was treat to a gala dinner cooked by Michelin-star chefs Tom Brown, Simon Rogan and Tommy Banks.

He said: "The venue was just an amazing place, the art-deco, and just a plush place to go."

The guesthouse was restored when the couple moved to Richmondshire in 2010.

Mr McNair said he believes the guesthouse's 'unusual' character contributed to being named Britain's best B&B.

The Northern Echo:

He said: "I think it is much do to with the property, it's very unusual and somewhere that people like to come because they get a different experience.

"It's something unusual and luxurious, and they get looked after here.

"They also stay somewhere where they wouldn't normally be able to stay."

Earlier this year the couple raised hundreds of pounds for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance, when brought out their own brand of marmalade.

In a joint-idea to tackle the B&B's problem of food wastage, the pair decided to make hundreds of jars for the charity.

Speaking to The Northern Echo in April, Mr McNair said: “We used to buy lots of food, and ended up throwing so much away.

“We thought let's make some and then quite a lot of people kept asking if they could buy it.”

After several weeks of selling their homemade marmalade, the pair raised about £800 for the Yorkshire Air Ambulance.