Bethnal&Bec Luxury Stays won the Self Catering Accommodation of the Year award, sponsored by, at the East of England Tourism Awards 2023-2024.

Vicky and Chris Saynor launched the adult-only holiday retreat in Cottered, Hertfordshire, in October 2017.

Having moved to the village from London, the couple set about converting the dilapidated stables attached to their house into luxury self-catering cabins.

The first two cabins to open were Bethnal and Bec, named after the two areas of London where Vicky and Chris lived – Tooting Bec and Bethnal Green. 

“Our two original accommodations boast a whole host of fantastic facilities to keep guests entertained, including luxurious king-sized beds, outdoor jacuzzi baths and outstanding views across the Hertfordshire countryside,” said Vicky.

The business thrived from the start – featuring in the The Sunday Telegraph, Evening Standard, Hello and The Times – and the couple began planning to convert their third stable into another retreat.

However, in November 2018, Vicky was diagnosed with triple-negative breast cancer.

“We navigated both cancer and running our business over the next few years, and finally opened The Foaling Box – our third retreat – in October 2021,” she said.

The Foaling Box offers the same facilities as Bethal and Bec, albeit with a super-king-size bed and retro arcade games table. 

Vicky believes one of the things that sets Bethnal&Bec apart from other luxury self-catering accommodation is “the fantastic range of services on offer, designed to make each guest’s stay unique”.

The Comet: Two of the retreats are dog-friendlyTwo of the retreats are dog-friendly (Image: Binky Nixon)

“One of our USPs is our Honesty Larder,” she said. “We sell locally made jewellery, pottery, honey, crafts, dog accessories, and more that guests can enjoy during their stay or take home as gifts.

“We run an honesty system on our retreat iPads so that guests can choose and pay for their items with ease.”

Bethnal&Bec also offers Dine In boxes, including meat and veg sourced from local suppliers, detailed recipes and a Spotify playlist that guests can listen to whilst cooking.

This is complemented by a Staples Pantry, offering an array of pantry and cooking items at no additional cost.

Other features include Pimp My Stay, allowing guests to enjoy luxury add-ons from local businesses, and a range of wellbeing experiences such as yoga, massages and treatments.

Bethnal&Bec is also committed to supporting the local community as a whole.

“We spent the first lockdown looking into better business practices and overhauling our sustainability processes,” she explained.

“The second lockdown was spent offering free accommodation for victims of domestic abuse, and we worked with over 20 local businesses to supply survivors with hot meals, gifts, clothing, and food, as well as free counselling sessions and solicitors’ advice.”

Following Vicky’s cancer diagnosis, the business is now a patron of local charity Something To Look Forward To, which helped support the family through her treatment.

During Breast Cancer Awareness Month each year, it fundraises and gifts free nights away to the charity – raising over £4,000 to date.

“We also offer superhero discounts to all guests living with a cancer diagnosis, as well as all Blue Light Card holders or members of the emergency services, NHS, social care sector and armed forces.”

The Comet: Chris Otty (sponsor –, Vicky and Chris Saynor at the East of England Tourism Awards ceremonyChris Otty (sponsor –, Vicky and Chris Saynor at the East of England Tourism Awards ceremony (Image: Matthew Potter Photographer and Videographer)
Vicky said winning an East of England Tourism Award “felt so special because it is from our industry, and we are being judged alongside our peers”.

Bethnal&Bec has now been named a finalist at the VisitEngland Awards for Excellence, with the winners announced on June 5.

“We are so excited for the awards night – even just to be there is fantastic!” said Vicky.

Following the success of its Hertfordshire site, Bethnal&Bec is currently building a fourth studio in Felixstowe, Suffolk.

“This accommodation will be completely sustainable and powered by renewable energy, including solar power and an air source heat pump,” said Vicky.

“It will require a lot of research in terms of design practicalities and marketing, as the accommodation will be family-friendly as opposed to our current adult-only retreats.”

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