On 23rd August the Owners and Directors of the hotel celebrated their first year of ownership of the hotel by inviting friends and suppliers to the hotel for an evening of entertainment, fizz and good food. A great evening was enjoyed by all, and we’re now looking forward to a successful second year. We have achieved a lot, but still have lots more to do to turn this beautiful building into the magnificent boutique hotel in our minds eye.
It has been a challenging year, in our first month a leaky roof brought down the ceilings in the 2 main bedrooms. We subsequently discovered dry rot, undiscovered on the structural survey. With a wedding booked for early October, we worked flat out for 2 months putting scaffolding up, taking the roof off, replacing roof timber, eradicating dry rot, replacing and rehanging tiles and basically replacing the roof, as well as renewing all of the drainage and guttering. We also had to completely strip both rooms to bare brick and ceiling beams, and completely remodelled the rooms into today’s Superior rooms. When I say ‘we’, I mean Bob and his team, and it was great to see them back at the hotel a year later, this time in their civvies! We also completely refurbished what was the breakfast room and a storage room into The Armstrong Suite and the Hunter Suite, two stunning rooms for meetings and events.
As we then headed into winter, with a successful Christmas behind us, the old boiler finally gave up the ghost. We took the chance to take it out and replace it with 2 latest generation highly efficient gas boilers. Meaning we can take one down for maintenance in the future if needed, but still have back up with the other. By a quirk of fate, the engineer who arrived to fit the new boilers, was doing so in his last months before retiring. It turned out that he fitted the original boiler when he started working life as an apprentice. He told us the date that he fitted it – over 45 years ago! It’s a small world as they say.
Heading into spring, and the kitchen equipment started to break down. First the fryer, then the pizza oven, then the rationale oven, and so on, in quick succession. We’ve consequently replaced most of the kitchen equipment, and improved the kitchen layout, giving more space, better racking and storage, and a slicker through flow for food production. Our Chef and his team are now thrilled to have an environment where they can really start to cook great food. Significantly, we also improved our Food Hygiene Score from a 4 to an impressive 5 at the last visit. The kitchen is in great shape.
We’ve also realised that we have replaced all duvets and pillows, added new mattress protectors throughout, 5 new beds and mattresses so far, a further 10 mattresses, 2 new vacuum cleaners, completely refurbished the first bathroom in one of our Classic rooms, and spent significant time and money getting the plumbing sorted out, thanks to Glen at G T Plumbing. As well as new cutlery, crockery and glassware in the restaurant, a new 50inch TV in the bar, new Ringtons speciality coffee machine and coffee grinder, and new signage throughout, including for the first time since the days of the Station Hotel, new illuminated signage on the front of the building. Guests can now see we’re a hotel!
That’s a lot of change in a year, and the team at the hotel has changed quite a lot in that time, but they have all played their part in giving genuinely warm hospitality to all of our guests. As the hotel emerges from the past, the hotel is increasingly becoming more recognised within the local community, but at the same time has welcomed guests from almost 50 countries worldwide, including China, Japan, South America, Africa, Europe and even Cape Verde. All of those guests contribute to the local economy which we’re proud of. Northumberland has global appeal, but to us, it’s still a Secret Kingdom, which we feel fortunate to be part of.