Since experienced hoteliers Philip and Judith Parker opened their Victorian town house in Carlisle in the mid '90s, they have scooped some prestigious awards, including the English Tourism Council's Best B&B in England in 1999. In fact, Number Thirty One is not just a B&B, and Philip's superb dinners (he produces a no-choice three-course menu every evening) might be one of the reasons for the place's immediate popularity. The menu is based on what is freshest and best that day, and emphasis is placed on as much as possible being home-made. Philip bakes his own bread, makes jam and marmalade, and even has a 'smokee' where he smokes the results of successful fishing expeditions.
  There are just three bedrooms, all decorated with flair and taste: Blue is the largest, with a walk-in wardrobe; Yellow has a half-tester bed and a Mediterranean bathroom; and the smallest, but most dramatic, Green, is done out in Oriental style with a black-and-gold dragon breathing fire behind the pillows. Downstairs, the sitting room is charmingly cluttered with objects and mementoes, which lend it a suitably Victorian flavour, and there's a pretty patio garden. With Number Thirty One, the Parkers have achieved that rare thing a winning combination of hospitality and hands-on professionalism. They have a no-smoking policy.