A COUPLE in Keswick are living the dream – having started up their new guest house they have rocketed to the top position as the number one choice for B&Bs and Inns on Tripadvisor.

Ben Goodman, 42, and Fiona Goodman, 38, own and run the Squirrel Lodge Guest House in Eskin Street.

They moved to Keswick from Leicester last February, after ditching their day jobs as a tree surgeon and legal secretary in order to make their dream come true, and began trading in March 2019.

When lockdown happened, the couple found that they did not qualify for the 80 per cent self-employed help from the government, as they could not show their monthly profit, because they had not been trading for 12 months. Ben said they feared they would lose the house. He said: "It was a really worrying time, I went back to Leicester to work on trees again."

They reopened on July 4 and had full occupancy in August – with the positive reviews flooding in. Ben said it was their aim to try and get their guest house into the top 50 by the end of the year, but within a couple of weeks of reopening they were in the top 15, then they went up a couple of places each week.

On their winning customer service, Ben said: "We try and put ourselves in their shoes, we write to everyone that's coming and list places we've eaten at and 10 places we strongly recommend people book first, so they don't miss out. We let people do self check-ins, we let them check-in on-line.

"It's our goal to get people that's coming all the information they need, and for them to have a great time."

Ben said the community spirit in Keswick during lockdown has been absolutely incredible. He thanked residents and in particular fellow guest house owner Paul Brannen for his help and support.

Paul, from neighbouring Rowan Tree Guest House said: "Squirrel Lodge are our well-loved neighbours. They went through a very hard time with little or no help from the government and after a lot of hard work and a load of worry they’ve been declared Trip Advisor No 1 in Keswick, beating off the big quality players in town and we are all proud of them.

"Such a lovely family – hard work pays off!"

The most recent review, by customers from Shrewsbury, was made on Tripadvisor on September 13 and said: "We certainly made the right choice when we came here for three days. Ben and Fiona were so welcoming and our room so comfortable. Our hosts went that extra mile to help us enjoy our stay: coming in soaking wet Fiona whisked our coats away to be dried, my phone charger failed to work, Ben produced a charger that did.

"Breakfast was clearly freshly made and all the ingredients of a British breakfast were available. It is a bit of a cliche but we really did feel as if we arrived as guests but left as friends."

To book at the guest house call Ben or Fiona on 017687 71189, people can also book via their website: www.squirrellodge.co.uk