Exmoor Accommodation Guide and Grading Schemes

What to expect and how to evaluate Exmoor Accommodation in North Devon and West Somerset

There is a wide range of accommodation and holiday property available on Exmoor throughout the year.  Exmoor is famous for its country sports (fishing, shooting and hunting), much of which takes place during the winter, so do not be surprised to find plenty of visitors around at any time of the year.  Exmoor relies heavily on tourism and visitors will usually receive a very warm welcome. 

Grading or "Star system":  Many Exmoor accommodation providers have chosen to have their accommodation graded by the English Tourism Council (ETC) now VisitBritain.  Participating businesses are inspected by inspectors annually and graded according to quality and facilities.  See below for a detailed guide.
The ETC website is at www.englishtourism.org.uk or VisitBritain.com

NOTE: Non-participation of the grading scheme is no guide to quality - the scheme is considered an unnecessary expense by some providers.  "ungraded" accommodation varies widely-some is top quality and some is not.  The internet provides tourists with levels of information never previously available.  Self-evaluation is now very common;  Inspect an accommodation provider's website and note the pictures and what is NOT said. Try to gauge how old the pictures and data are.  Don't forget the telephone; most accommodation providers on Exmoor are very friendly, helpful people who depend on tourists for their survival and they will greatly appreciate your enquiring call.

Types of Accommodation on Exmoor

Exmoor has no Large International Hotels, most are small country houses.  They vary in size from 5-30 bedrooms.  In addition to the 24 hour services normally expected from a hotel,  many on Exmoor provide stabling or livery for guests horses.  Some also provide kennels for guests dogs.  Hotels will provide a full range of meals and have a liquor licence (to sell alcohol).  Most will accept credit card payments and booking.


Generally smaller than hotels, Inns where once "Travellers accommodation" - small overnight stops providing food, drink and a bed.  Nowadays an Inn can be anything from a pub(lic house) with letting rooms to a small country house hotel.  You may not find laundry facilities here and meals will only be available during set periods.  There are some very fine old Inns on Exmoor.  Credit cards are usually accepted.


These are usually smaller than hotels and service will be personal but not 24 hours.  Meals will normally be at set times and usually only available in the dining room.  Residents will have their own lounge.  Only a few have a liquor licence (you may drink your own alcohol but must bring it with you).  Standards of guest house accommodation on Exmoor vary widely-the ETC gradings give good indications.

(Bed and Breakfast)


"B&B" or Bed and Breakfast indicates a house where sleeping accommodation (bedroom) and breakfast is available, normally provided by the lady of the house.  Exmoor breakfasts are usually substantial cooked meals!  Some will cook you an evening meal if given some notice (the menu will probably be negotiable and is often cooked especially for just you-so are useful for those with special dietary needs.  They are unlikely to have a liquor licence, but many allow you to consume your own on the premises.  Sizes vary from 1 to 6 bedrooms.  Residents lounges are sometimes available.  Many Exmoor B&B's are of a very high standard with high quality furnishings and en-suite bathrooms.  Credit cards are not often accepted because of the high commission charges.  Exmoor B&B owners have often lived in the area for many years and are usually a good, reliable source of local information.


Houses, Cottages, flats, apartments, bungalows, lodges which are fully equipped for self catering. There is a lot of self catering property on Exmoor and most is now of a very good standard.  Single properties will often have a remote owner and some are in remote locations - you will be on you own.  Complexes of up to 10 units exist around Exmoor.  Many self catering accommodation complex owners live on-site and are available to help with problems and advice.
See English Tourism Council (ETC) grading description below


Many farms on Exmoor take paying guests to supplement their income.  Facilities vary but most is similar to B&B above.  You will be living on a working farm.  Food is normally very good, featuring local produce and meat. 



Accommodation providers who also provide stabling and/or turnout for guests horses. Some also provide horse transport.

VisitBritain Accommodation Grading Scheme

The following has been copied directly from the VisitBritain website:

Self-catering: Star ratings (cottages, lodges, bungalows, apartments let for self-catering)

The English Tourism Council's Star ratings offer consumers the reliability of a set level of quality. Accommodation is assessed on its quality, including comfort, space, facilities and most important of all, cleanliness. The more Stars an establishment achieves, the higher the overall level of quality. All properties have to meet an extensive list of minimum requirements before they can be considered for a Star rating. Establishments at higher rating levels have to meet additional requirements for facilities.
All Star-rated properties provide the following:

* high standard of cleanliness throughout
* pricing and conditions of booking made clear
* local information to help guests make the best of their stay
* comfortable accommodation with a range of furniture to meet guest needs
* colour television (where signal available) at no extra charge
* kitchen equipment to meet all essential requirements.

ONE STAR self-catering accommodation will have:

* an acceptable overall level of quality
* adequate provision of furniture, furnishings and fittings.

TWO STAR self-catering accommodation will have (in addition to what is provided at One Star)

* a good overall level of quality.

THREE STAR self-catering accommodation will have (in addition to what is provided at Two Star)

* a good to very good overall level of quality
* a good standard of maintenance and decoration
* ample space and good quality furniture
* all double beds with access from both sides
* microwaves.

FOUR STAR self-catering accommodation will have (in addition to what is provided at Three Star)

* an excellent overall level of quality
* very good care and attention to detail obvious throughout
* either access to washing machine and drier, if not provided in the unit, or a 24 hour laundry service.

FIVE STAR self-catering accommodation will have (in addition to what is provided at Four Star)

* an exceptional overall level of quality 
* high levels of décor, fixtures and fittings, together with excellent standards of management efficiency and guest services, excellent range of accessories and personal touches.

Serviced Guest Accommodation : Star ratings  (applies to hotels, inns, guest houses)

These reflect consumer expectations of the sector, with quality seen as more important to visitors than facilities and services. As a result, guest accommodation establishments are required to meet progressively higher standards of quality and guest care as they move up the scale from one to five Stars.

ONE STAR guest accommodation will have:

* an acceptable overall level of quality, offering, as a minimum, a full cooked or continental breakfast. Other meals, where provided, will be freshly prepared.

TWO STAR guest accommodation will have (in addition to what is provided at One Star guest accommodation):

* a good, overall level of quality and comfort, with greater emphasis on guest care in all areas.

THREE STAR guest accommodation will have (in addition to what is provided at Two Star guest accommodation):

* a very good overall level of quality
* comfortable and well maintained bedrooms
* a good choice of quality items available for breakfast
* customer care and all-round comfort.

FOUR STAR guest accommodation will have (in addition to what is provided at Three Star guest accommodation):

* an excellent overall level of quality in all areas
* customer care and attention to detail evident in all areas.

FIVE STAR guest accommodation will have (in addition to what is provided at Four Star guest accommodation):

* an exceptional overall level of quality. For example, high quality furniture, excellent interior design
* outstanding customer care, anticipating every need.

Gold and Silver Awards
ETC Gold and Silver Awards are given to establishments that not only achieve the overall levels of quality within their Diamond rating, but also reach the highest levels of quality in specific areas identified by guests as being really important to them. Gold and Silver Awards reflect the quality of comfort and cleanliness found in bedrooms and bathrooms as well as the quality of service enjoyed by guests.