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About last night…

Romance. It’s a thing people seek and, like a butterfly, it’s too often just a few feet ahead or has flown off before you can ‘gram it. Southernhay House has just been given a Cesar award (you’ve heard of Cesar Ritz, right?) by the Good Hotel Guide for “Romantic Hotel” 2020. We’re over the moon about it, especially as inspection is anonymous, unsolicited and thus wholly objective.

I’ve been giving some thought as to what makes for romance and what our guests are looking for from their experience. We didn’t set out for this specific quality, so it must be something that’s in the fabric of what we do.

SH is a city centre hotel, so no sea views, mountain peaks or reflective lakes on our side. The romance has to happen within these four walls. I’ve broken it down to five things:

First, the decor. As hoteliers, we’re guilty of not value engineering our fit out in the way most sensible operators would do. Did you know there’s an algorithm for spend per revenue? Nope, nor did we. So I think the fabric of the hotel says “hello stranger, come and make yourself at home” in a way that more predictable and mass produced interiors don’t.

Secondly, the bedrooms. This is, after all, a given for romance. Trick is to avoid nudge nudge wink wink and make these private spaces a luxurious haven for our guests. We’ve put a lot of thought into making life easy and luxurious: think labelled light switches so no fumbling there, deep (and large enough for two) double ended baths in the luxe rooms, heated floors, oversized toiletries and nibbles for stamina!

Thirdly, “hearing” the guests. We invite you to tell us if it’s a special occasion. A proposal or wedding night is a pretty special thing and we’d like you to remember it with us as your backdrop.  Then there’s the flip side: if a guest wants privacy we respect their boundaries. I guess this all boils down to the staff and their human interaction with you.

Fourthly, cosy corners. A luxe bed is obviously the centrepiece of romance but break out places to spend time together are part of the mix. Snuggled in the bar over cocktails or reading the papers in front of the fire is a good time to put down screens and talk.

Fifthly, the story. Southernhay House wears its history on its sleeve and we’re all crazy for William Kirkpatrick, the first owner, who infects the atmosphere with his bohemian lifestyle and general lust for life. As for romance, I’ve written about Kirkpatrick’s great love affair…..let’s turn to his nemesis, Tipu Sultan (featured in our bar) and one of the sexiest, although not necessarily acheivable, aphorisms: “I’d rather live a day as a tiger than a lifetime as a sheep”. Grrrrrr, easy!