As proprietor of two prime-location Guest Houses, Barbara Godfrey knows a thing or two about providing great accommodation for visitors to Southport. We caught up with her to find out what she loves most about her job, and to hear the tale of the missing knickers!

Tell us a bit about yourself

I’ve been working in hospitality and catering for most of my life, starting at the age of 14 washing dishes at the Blundellsands Hotel in Crosby. I went on to train with Beefeater Restaurants in the South of England and became a manager for them at the age of 22. I spent 10 years with Whitbread Beefeater Restaurants and by the age of 32 I’d trained and developed six new managers, achieved various awards and accolades, and ultimately decided that I’d gone as far as I wanted to go in the catering industry.

As my passion for hospitality and catering had started in hotels, I came back north and bought a 20-bedroom hotel in Lytham St Anne’s. Using all my experience and training, I converted every pound into profit whilst never compromising on quality. 10 years later I sold up and moved to Southport – working for Whitbread Premier Inn as a part-time receptionist.  

The passion for running my own business returned five years ago, when I bought the Captain’s Quarters. I had to re-wire, re-plaster and completely refurbish the Guest House, replacing absolutely everything; it was hard work, particularly as I had no experience of managing a building project and can’t even change a plug! I soon learned I needed a trusted team around me, and the electrician, handyman, plumbers, and plasterers still do jobs for me now.

Three years ago. the Guest House next door but one, The Andora, came up for sale and I decided to expand my business. I moved my parents into the living area the back of it and it has been lovely to have them so close by during lockdowns. I absolutely love what I do and wake up happy. People often ask me would I like a third guest house and I say I’d love one, but the reality is that running Guest Houses is hard work and a lifestyle choice. I like living my own life, on my own terms, and want to enjoy every last bit of what life throws at me.

boy holding candy floss in front of a red and white striped lighthouse

What do you love most about what you do?

I love everything about the job, in one day I can be the housekeeper/cleaner, butler, receptionist, laundry lady, carpark attendant, decorator, maintenance person, entertainer, bookkeeper… the list is endless. No day is really the same, and it can be incredibly challenging when juggling so many positions, but I wouldn’t change it!

The best thing about the job are my guests. I love chatting to them and finding out about the adventures they’ve had during their holidays. There’s so much to see and do that they always have something new to tell me about. It’s great when people call to book with me directly; I can give them advice on things to plan for their trip and they’re always so excited to be planning a holiday.

How have you adapted your business over the past year?

I adapted the business throughout lockdowns by providing a safe place for people needing longer term housing, on a month to month or week to week basis. I became a bit of a heartbreak hotel as lots of people had relationship breakdowns and unfortunately ended up homeless. Despite the sad circumstances it’s been nice to know I’ve been supporting people and providing an essential service through such a difficult time.

light blue parasol and white towel on an empty beach

What changes have you made to be ready for reopening?

In preparation for opening for holiday guests, I am in the process of redecorating hallways and entrances, repainting the outsides of the buildings, and replacing the flooring in most of the communal areas of Captain’s Quarters. I pride myself on offering comfortable accommodation at an affordable price, which means I’m constantly reinvesting to keep the premises looking great for guests.

Hand sanitiser is now a fixture of the properties, and I’ve registered with Visit Britain’s ‘We’re Good To Go Scheme’ – this kitemark assures guests that the required COVID-19 processes and procedures are in place to help keep them safe during their stay.

Running a guest house must result in some interesting moments…

Too many to mention them all, and some that would make your hair curl! On more than one occasion I’ve had to rescue a naked guest - they opened the bedroom door thinking it was the bathroom and the door closed on them. The Fire Brigade turned up once, saying a guest has found a bomb under the bed; it turned out to be an air freshener!

One of the funniest stories involves a pair of big knickers… A guest had washed them and hung them to dry in the shower, but then forgot to take them home. My partner went to clean the room and obviously threw them in the bin: we don’t put anything like this into lost property for hygiene reasons. A week later she comes banging on the door screaming she wants her knickers back!

wide angle image of a lake, with greenery around the edges and a bridge in the distance

I didn’t have a clue what she was talking about so asked my partner who said he’d chucked them in the bin. Apparently, these were her best new knickers so she was less than pleased that we’d binned them despite me explaining that we wouldn’t keep anything like that in our lost property. She was disgusted and very angry, but as I pointed out “I would be more disgusted and shocked if I found he had kept your knickers”!

What do you love most about Southport?

I have lived in 14+ places in England, all lovely, but it’s Southport that ticks every box for me. We have a great selection of bars, cafes, restaurants and takeaways, Pleasureland, lots of parks, and some amazing golf courses.  The Marine Lake is a real asset to Southport, as are the beaches, and living in the heart of town I feel extremely safe day or night. I love that we have no graffiti and everywhere is kept to a good standard.

Southport is like a well-kept secret, even though we have links with both Liverpool and Manchester airport. It doesn’t get the recognition it truly deserves but I’m hopeful for the future and soon it will be on everyone’s lips.  

I’m excited that so many people are passionate about this town. Having Southport B.I.D and a strong tourism department makes me so truly grateful to be part of the visitor economy in this wonderful town.

Captain's Quarters, 21 Bath Street, Southport, PR9 0DP / 01704 628755 / info@captainsquartersguesthouse.com

Andora Guest House, 25 Bath Street, Southport, PR9 0DP / 01704 530214 / info@andoraguesthouse.co.uk

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