On a larger scale, hotels lacking recent investment are described as “tired”. Again, rather like their owners who probably don’t get much sleep worrying about how to fill all those empty, creaky old beds.
Most of us have stayed at hotels which look quite grand from the outside, only to be greeted by a depressing, tatty time-warp on stepping inside. Owning a successful hotel is like painting the Forth Bridge: it’s a never-ending round of refurbishment and improvement works to keep the place looking fresh and appealing.
Regular guests at FIH properties will be reassured that armies of interior designers, builders and decorators have been unleashed at many hotels over the winter.
One of the busiest has been the Abbey Hotel in Bath, which somehow managed to refurbish 60 bedrooms last year while maintaining very high occupancy levels. It has just completed some heavy-duty stuff – a new lift and energy-saving boilers – before starting the next project to refurbish bathrooms.
Another listed Georgian building, Rudding Park near Harrogate, has also gained a new look. In line with its philosophy of contemporary design with traditional elegance, the £200,000 refurb included a makeover for 15 bedrooms.
It is currently finalising plans to build a spa incorporating a 17-metre pool, hydrotherapy pool, ten treatment rooms and three heat treatment cabins.
Enjoying a wonderful location on the shores of Windermere, Lakeside Hotel has invested £100,000 decorating five of its prime Lakeview rooms and creating a new suite overlooking the water. A further £30,000 went on rebuilding a dry-stone wall to improve the view for guests using the wedding and conference suite.
Somehow even the finest food doesn’t taste so good when it’s consumed in miserable surroundings. Howard’s House is a charming old property in Wiltshire which has transformed its dining room over the winter with new chairs and tables, a striking mix of modern art for the walls and a clever, state-of-the-art lighting system creating different moods for different occasions.
Appleby Manor, another fine country house hotel, has converted a conference room into a new bistro. Doors open onto its award-winning garden and there are fab views of Appleby Castle to the Lake District fells in the distance.
It, too, has some interesting illumination. The room was refurbished using local tradesmen and materials where possible, with many reclaimed items. These include the central down lights which were sourced from the old Concorde hangar.
But fear not. The lighting may be supersonic, but you won’t be served fast food.