The Revival of the Coaching Inn
Inn Places founder David Hancock looks at how the trend for inns offering great food and adding smart new rooms have led to the revival of the modern-day coaching inn, inspiring him to create InnPlaces.co.uk, a niche website for the perfect break away at Britain’s best pubs with rooms.
My 25 years as a pub inspector, industry awards judge and pub guide editor (AA, Sawdays, Egon Ronay) have taken me across Britain, visiting hundreds of pubs and inspecting everything from food, beer, bars and bedrooms. Not so long ago the thought of staying overnight in a pub would conjure up vivid images of cheaply furnished bedrooms, the smell of stale smoke, food and beer, and basic bathrooms at the end of dimly lit corridors. It’s inspiring to see just how much the industry has changed in the past 10 years. I have been impressed by the new, innovative breed of pub entrepreneurs, who continue to develop successful destination dining pubs with stylish rooms. I handpicked my personal favourites to launch www.innplaces.co.uk, to help customers find the best inns that British has to offer. It’s true to say that pubs are Britain’s new breed of country hotels and restaurants.
Rooms – Key to Survival
Pubs have had to evolve in order to survive in an increasingly competitive hospitality business and I strongly believe that bedrooms are key to the future success of the great British pub. A growing number are now very much in tune with today’s leisure aspirations and lifestyle, with the increase in weekend breaks and staycations, reflecting the modern-day trend for dining and staying at a quality pub or inn. Britain’s top inns now offer an increasingly discerning public a stylish alternative to a faceless, budget travel inn, a faded town-centre hotel, or a large, impersonal and often expensive country-house hotel. Business travellers are shunning the budget hotels in favour of cosy pubs with individual, affordable rooms, a welcoming atmosphere and inventive menus. Add an informal atmosphere, good food, real ales, fine wines and footpaths from the front door and pubs offer the perfect recipe for a great weekend away.
Benefits of Rooms
Adding rooms changes the dynamics of the pub, it becomes a 24-hour operation, with the added pressures of extra staff to service rooms, cook and serve breakfast, for example. However, once up-and-running, profit from rooms can exceed 80%, plus the customer spend increases, as they only have to walk upstairs to sleep having wined and dined well.
Once tired and dated pub rooms have been revamped to meet modern-day expectations and even our new-wave gastropubs are adding a clutch of high-spec rooms with all the comforts of home. The furnishings, fabrics, cosseting extras and swish bathrooms once only found in posh hotels are now the norm in the classy inns listed on Inn Places. Guests are likely to find soothing heritage colours, plasma TV screens, Roberts digital radios, fresh coffee, homemade biscuits, goose down duvets and pillows and Egyptian cotton sheets on big beds, and spotless bathrooms kitted out with claw-foot baths, storm showers, fluffy bathrobes, under-floor heating and top toiletries.
Innplaces.co.uk embraces this vibrant trend, an ‘invite only’ website showcasing Britain’s very best inns and pubs with rooms that have successfully been reinvented as stylish modern day coaching inns, and the passionate owners who are leading the way in the industry. Some inns are posh with boutique-style rooms, others ooze tradition and rustic country-house charm, but all offer individual, comfortable and affordable rooms to chill out in, a relaxed and informal atmosphere, and inventive menus that brim with local produce.
Our growing inn membership is supported by online booking, unique food trails and detailed information on everything a customer needs to know when visiting an area, from interesting places to visit, ideas to keep active types amused and the best places to shop.
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