Historic Hardwicke Hall Manor Hotel reopens after more than four months in lockdown
An historic hotel dating back five centuries has reopened after closing for more than four months due to the coronavirus lockdown.
Grade II-listed Hardwicke Hall Manor Hotel, in Hesleden Road, Blackhall Colliery, is bristling with historic features, including a priest’s hole dating back to the Catholic Reformation in the 16th Century.
Previously owned by wealthy families and the National Coal Board, it was transformed into a hotel in the 1980s and has been owned by brothers Alan and David Bradley for the last 34 years.
Alan, 66, said: “We decided not to reopen until August because all our weddings were postponed until next year so we had nothing much in the diary to worry about.
"This allowed to get all our changes in place so that the place is safe for staff and customers.”
Sanitiser stations have been placed at different points throughout the hotel with its restaurant capacity reduced for now from 120 to 64 people in line with current social distancing regulations.
Staff are also regularly cleaning door handles and other surfaces to offer extra protection.
Twelve of the hotel’s 30 full and part-time staff have so far returned from the Government’s furlough scheme after the hotel – which attracts customers for its Sunday dinners and afternoon cream teas – reopened last Sunday.
Alan said: “Sunday lunch on our first day went well with old customers delighted to be back and full of praise for how safe they felt.
"And, of course, we are taking part in the Eat Out To Help Out offer from the Government from Mondays to Wednesdays and that has gone very well this week as well.”
While the venue is traditionally popular for both weddings and prom nights, Hardwicke Hall also markets itself as an ideal location from which to begin walking the North East coastline.
Alan added: “We have had 100% room occupancy and it seems as though people are starting to travel.
"We have the East Durham coastal walks on our doorstep as well as people starting to travel for business.
"We have had people staying over from Scotland and as far south as Northampton.”