altSo far this year I have slept soundly in a couple of pubs, had breakfast overlooking the sea, had a brilliant pie, tried to answer some quiz questions, played a new game I had never heard of, watched some live football, had a drink or two, met a group of walkers, a Tai Chi instructor and chatted with a group of mums and toddlers.

That isn’t an attempt to show how busy I have been because all of those things happened within a few days of each other at just a few pubs.

In my job I am lucky enough to get to travel around the country and meet operators in all four corners.

And from my trips in January alone I can report that pub customers have never had it so good.

Pubs are becoming more and more creative as they attempt to work out where that next few hundred quid is coming from, which means that consumers have more choice than ever.

At one pub, The Dock Inn, in Penzance, they had something on every night of the week to attract people in. I was there for the quiz and the curry. I struggled with the former but not so much the latter.

Others, such as The Staunton Arms, in Nottinghamshire, are providing great accommodation deals. Midweek you can get dinner, bed and breakfast for two for £90! Having stayed there and sampled one of their pies I can assure you this is a deal very few would be disappointed in.

I remain convinced that accommodation will become an increasingly important part of the trade’s business. If you have room for it then it makes financial sense to capitalise on it.

Whenever I go away now I always, always, look for a pub. Standards have improved so much that you now get a far better experience than at a hotel at a far better price. The rest of the world will catch on soon enough.

Looking ahead for the rest of the year, food will of course remain important, as will events, but the key to the industry’s success will be pushing standards and innovations to new levels.

It has never been harder to get people out of their homes, which means that despite the closures that still get sited, pubs have actually never been better.

There is more diversity and creativity in the trade than ever before.

I can’t wait to visit more brilliant pubs throughout the year. I just hope they get the rewards they deserve.

Matt Eley is Inapub's editor. Follow him on Twitter @mattheweley