Bought in March 2008 by Lake District Hotels, the Borrowdale Hotel is undergoing a refurbishment programme which will see a £1 million investment once finished.
Phase one which cost almost £1/2 million is now complete with a noticeable transformation to the entrance, lounges bars and some of the bedrooms. The hotel is now ready for the influx of visitors during the summer before commencing more work in the autumn.
Plans to refurbish the hotel were carefully phased to avoid disruption for guests at busy periods like Christmas, New Year, Easter and the summer holidays. The work has been overseen by General Manager Stephen Wilcock who has been working closely with the tradesmen – all of whom are local.
As the first coaching inn to be built in the Borrowdale Valley, the Borrowdale Hotel is steeped in history and has a reputation for warmth and traditional hospitality. Kit and Charles Graves, Directors of The Lake District Hotel Group were keen to ensure the refurbishment remained sympathetic to the hotel’s character. “We want to keep the warmth and heritage of the hotel because that is what visitors and guests really appreciate. We have developed a look and feel that still creates a cosy and welcoming atmosphere. Tradition and personality still pervade – like the original 41 room bells that still hang in the hall and the Victorian coffee grinders, bed pans and plate warmers that adorn the new, more open reception area. You will also still hear the homely tick of the Grandfather clock and the chiming of the hour.”
The lounges have new fire places, deep pile carpets, rich wallpapers and plush curtains. The comfortable sofas and chairs have an abundance of cushions and there are fresh flowers everywhere.
A third of the bedrooms have now been refurbished – meeting modern day expectations for quality; comfortable beds, rich classic fabrics and furnishings, sparkling bathrooms and of course, flat screen TV’s with SKY.
Some things have never changed at the hotel – like the friendly, hospitable staff and the fact that they are still happy to welcome well behaved dogs in a number of rooms – a custom dating back to when the hotel opened in 1866.
Investment by Lake District Hotels has ensured work for local tradespeople from plasterers and plumbers to painters, decorators, electricians and florists. This is set to continue during phase two of the programme which will include developing the restaurant and more of the bedrooms.
The redevelopment of the restaurant is something that Stephen Wilcock is particularly looking forward to. He has a passion for fine food and good wine – something that led him to become a Master Sommelier, a role he is eager to develop with the restaurant.
Kit Graves, Managing Director of Lake District Hotels Ltd said “We have been making changes since we bought the hotel and Stephen has worked hard to minimise disruption for guests when the lounges were being updated – they have made a real difference to the place, but regular visitors will still find the Borrowdale Hotel a very charming, traditional place to stay. The restaurant development will be the next exciting phase, but we will have to time that to keep dining disruption to a minimum and won’t be until the hotel gets quieter later in the year.”
One of the first changes was to open the bar and conservatory all day for food and drink. It has always enjoys good local trade for morning coffee, lunches and has a growing reputation for afternoon tea. The gardens at the hotel are particularly special this time of year as the ancient Magnolia tree is in bloom – attracting keen gardeners who enjoy lunch in the conservatory to admire the view.
“Visitors to the Lake District have high expectations and are more demanding than ever. We want to ensure guests enjoy their Lake District holiday and hope they want to visit us time and time again. The Borrowdale Hotel has very loyal guests but we need to continue our investment, to ensure we exceed their expectations.”