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Meet the Owner – Simonstone Hall Hotel

Sarah-Jane Lampe 4 April 2014

franko image low resFranko Mutinelli, manager and part owner of Simonstone Hall Hotel, tells about his country house hotel’s long running history nestled in the Yorkshire Dales 

Tell me the story of the hotel
The land upon which Simonstone stands was once a part of a larger empire owned by the Abbots of Jervaulx. Used mainly as grazing land for their renowned breed of horses, the area supported a small farm building – the earliest ancestor of Simonstone Hall.

Home to numerous tenants throughout its lifespan, Simonstone Hall spent many years in the Stuart family, who also owned a number of other fine English properties, including Highcliffe Castle and Wortley Hall. Cuthbert Stuart, buried at Hardraw alongside other family members, made some alterations to Simonstone in 1733, thus explaining the initials and date on the building as seen in the entrance hall from the courtyard.

Lord and Lady Wharncliffe, descendants of the Stuart family, resided at Simonstone for many years, using the Hall as a hunting lodge.

Further alterations and additions were made in 1885 by architects Carpenter and Ingelow, designers of Hardraw church, built in 1880 for Lord Wharncliffe.

During the Second World War the British armed forces occupied Simonstone Hall and in 1947, Simonstone changed hands once again when it was sold to J. M. MacKinlay.

First established as a hotel in 1981 by John and Sheila Jeffryes, Simonstone Hall was bought in 1997 by the current owners and has since undergone extensive refurbishment.

This work extends to the conversion of outbuildings to create six additional spacious bedrooms and the game tavern – a large bar area with a traditional Yorkshire theme.

Simonstone Hall Hotel is a privately owned and beautifully kept country house hotel overlooking the village of Hawes and across to Wensleydale in the rugged Yorkshire Dales.

The hotel offers relaxing lounges with log fires which provide a haven to relax and unwind, and with spectacular views from both the Brasserie and Fell restaurants either is a great place to enjoy a relaxed or intimate dinner. In the summer our guests make the most of our outside terrace too.

What qualities does your hotel provide your customers that you are particularly proud of?
We pride ourselves in the quality of our 18 rooms; each has its own individual personality. The rooms are beautifully furnished with refined period furnitures and enjoy agreeable outlooks across stunning countryside. All of the rooms have their own en-suite bathrooms, while six rooms enjoy the cosy opulence of a four-poster bed.

Our friendly service is professional, yet, unobtrusive and provides for a relaxed stay. Our excellent kitchen also introduces a touch of refinement against the backdrop of the rugged Dales and Fells of North Yorkshire.

What challenges have you faced since opening?

We have faced the same challenges that most country house hotels are experiencing, namely that discretionary spend is under severe pressure and we have had to be innovative and clever about our offers, events, and marketing platforms in order to attract as many guests as possible to the region.

Where are you spending the majority of your budget?

The majority of our budget is spent on infrastructure and staff.

What are your future plans?

To continue to offer our customers and guests an unrivalled relaxing and enjoyable experience in the Yorkshire Dales.

When it comes to the Brasserie my philosophy is simple: Present great food with big-rich flavours, the best produce and ingredients, a great setting, with the friendliest service and an excellent wine and drink offer, and you have the foolproof recipe to create a platform for people from all walks of life to enjoy and experience what is for me, one of the great joys of life. Good food, good wine and good people, equals good life!

What did you want to be when you were younger?

A chef

How would you describe yourself in three words?

Outgoing, enthusiastic and funny

If you weren’t a hotelier what would you be doing?

Still cooking on the pass

Average room rate: £165 bed and breakfast
Average food spend per head: £25
Average weekly occupancy: 80% in season, 50% low season
Staff members: 20