The Great Inns of Britain – How To Take Part
Simon Heaton, the Chair for Great Inns of Britain, shares his thoughts on how innkeeping is paving the way for a new generation, and what it takes to be a part of ‘The Great Inns of Britain’.
My passion for championing the Great British Inn and the unique place it holds in the UK licensed trade is the driving force behind my role as Chairman of The Great Inns of Britain. I’ve been involved in the industry for 18 years and I know first-hand the amount of hard work and dedication it takes to make an inn truly great. My role as Chair is multi-faceted and always adapting, from meeting members and keeping up to date with trends in the industry, to looking at new initiatives for the group and promoting the Great British Inn to an increasingly savvy audience who want to make the most of their break away or dining experience.
As the Chair of Great Inns for the past 4 years, I’ve seen the market change, progress and grow to where we are now and it’s an exciting time to be an innkeeper in Britain. It’s clear that there’s a dedicated band of passionate innkeepers who are keeping the sector very much alive; from family-run establishments that have been in the business for over 75 years, to younger couples who are putting their hearts and souls into restoring beautiful properties and building a strong customer base; there is a wonderfully diverse range of styles in Britain and the standard just keeps on improving.
History of Great Inns
When Great Inns was founded in 1986 by Sir Thomas Ingilby, owner of Ripley Castle and The Boar’s Head Inn, along with the late Paul Whittome, the central idea was (and remains) building a consortium of like-minded independent innkeepers who would come together to share ideas and work collaboratively to keep the great British inn alive. They knew then the importance of not only preserving the history of innkeeping as a tradition, but also that the public’s desire for home away from home, the staycation as we now know it – but with a few luxury touches thrown in for good measure.
Twenty years down the line, we’ve seen a real shift in visitor habits over the years and the demand for quality accommodation combined with efficient service and excellent food continues to provide a demanding but exciting challenge for owners and landlords. We’re the first to admit that the Great Inns are passionate about maintaining high standards across the board, but especially when it comes to the food we serve in our bars, lounges, restaurants and al fresco dining areas. Local and seasonal produce is at the heart of each restaurant, and we’re proud to champion Great British food throughout the year; it’s no wonder that collectively we’ve earned 24 AA Rosettes, which is testament to the quality of food being served in the inns.
With so many excellent inns located around the British Isles we are always thrilled to hear from potential new members for The Great Inns of Britain; we’re keen to grow our membership whilst also maintaining consistency across the ‘Great Inn’s attributes’: first and foremost a commitment to quality, but also a genuine, friendly atmosphere and the art of being stylish without ever being stuffy or exclusive. To this end, Great Inns remains a member-driven organisation in charge of its own direction and standards. We certainly have an eclectic mix of inns (and owners!) in the Great Inns group, and this is what makes us so successful – exciting ideas, different incentives and continued investment in meeting the needs of a new era of visitors who are making the staycation popular once again. www.greatinns.co.uk