Luxury Travel and Lifestyle Blog

5 Reasons Why Everyone Should Visit Holmes Mill, Lancashire

“Never expect owt for nowt.” 
― Sylvia Lovat Corbridge

One of the things that makes Britain so great is our wonderful heritage. Be it positive or negative, we like to remember exactly where we've come from and use this knowledge to honour our ancestors in the best way possible. Wherever we can, we like to preserve things - and turning derelict spaces into cool lifestyle destinations seems to be right on-trend at the moment. So on our recent trip to Clitheroe in Lancashire, it felt only natural that Tom and I spend a day exploring Holmes Mill, a former 19th Century textiles mill, and connect with Lancashire on a more emotional level.

For over 40 years, Holmes Mill had been left abandoned due to the decline in the industry in the North West; until recently, in 2015, when the site was acquired by the James' Places Group. With a strong creative vision and a burning desire to bring the building back to life, the James' Places Group have been working hard to create a modern-day destination that can be celebrated by the people of Lancashire and beyond. A haven, if you will, to showcase the best of Lancashire's food, drink and entertainment. 

So, without further ado, here are 5 reasons why you should grab your favourites and venture up North for a bimble around this unique historical site. 

1. It's got its own hotel.

Located in what used to be a Victorian weaving shed, The Spinning Block Hotel is a brand new addition to the Holmes Mill empire. With only 16 rooms currently fully furnished, the hotel will remain under construction from Mondays to Wednesdays until all of its 38 rooms have been individually designed and decorated. From Thursdays to Saturdays, the hotel is open for business and guests can enjoy a comfortable stay (without any disturbance from building work) at the newly reinvented modern mill.

Each double room boasts a slick and stylish design; a muted, clean-cut colour scheme complete with upscale chrome and glass furnishings. With an ensuite bathroom, spacious double bed, walk-in shower, widescreen TV, writing desk, storage space and tea-making facilities (life without a cuppa is no life at all), it's apparent that the rooms have been designed for ultimate comfort but still remain true to their 19th Century roots. Although The Spinning Block Hotel has been remodelled as a contemporary boutique hotel, where possible, sections of the original stonework have been restored and left exposed while some fabrics have also been preserved in order to honour Lancashire's - and Holmes Mill's -  industrial heritage.

2. It has a beautiful bistro. 

Inside The Spinning Block Hotel, you'll find the most fabulous, Art Deco-inspired restaurant; Bistro 1823. At first, you'll be drawn to the charming flamingo wallpaper, beckoning you to pull up a pew in the cosy bar area and join the party. Then you'll spot the magnificent black grand piano, which separates the bar from the main dining area, and beautiful sounds of jazz will begin to bubble in your soul. You'll try and peak a look through the stained glass windows and will soon realise that the world looks a lot prettier in technicolour. Finally, you'll cast your eyes to the heavens, spotting the decadent glass chandeliers and gold-plated ceiling, and realise this is exactly where foodie dreams are made.

Whether you fancy a cocktail or a full-on 3-course meal, Bistro 1823 has got you covered. With low, lounging sofas and easy arm chairs in the bar area, I recommend you take your time working through the extensive bar menu before heading to the restaurant. All the best wines by the glass, a hand-picked selection of spirits, local beers on tap, and too many delicious cocktails to choose from, this bar was designed to make its guests feel as glamorous as its surroundings.

Moving on to the restaurant, you'll find a menu that packs sophisticated punches. Hearty steaks and seasonal seafood feature heavily but there's an refined elegance to each dish's execution. From lobster tortellini and 20oz steaks to market fish and artisan cheeses, your tastebuds will be in for a right Northern treat. With a simple philosophy focusing on sourcing the finest ingredients, Bistro 1823 knows exactly how to take flavour to the next level - and it's all on home ground.

3. It has a gourmet food hall. 

It seems you can fit quite a lot inside an old weaving shed these days, like an entire gourmet food hall. Named after the Forest of Bowland, an area of outstanding natural beauty near Clitheroe, The Bowland Food Hall is just as pretty as its namesake. With a shabby chic interior comprising of metal shelving units, shipping containers, exposed lighting and a truck filled with crates of fruit, it's so cool that it wouldn't feel out of place in East London.

Offering a unique platform for local independent retailers to sell their artisan wares, The Bowland Food Hall prides itself on knowing exactly where its produce comes from and bringing the finest fare to your plate. You won't find just any old food here; The Bowland Food Hall stocks only the best produce from the region (with a hand-picked selection of goods coming from further afield). It's a place where foodies alike can gather and salivate over the best ingredients, where people who wouldn't consider themselves foodies can be inspired by something other than what they find in their local Sainsbury's. Life's too short to eat boring food - and The Bowland Food Hall will never let you go hungry.

4. It has a cute café.

It's a well-known fact that coffee and cake make the world go round, and Holmes Mill's freshly baked offerings from the Food Hall Café will make your day just that little bit sweeter. Located in the old weaving shed inside the Bowland Food Hall, the Café is a vibrant, homely space that serves up a lovely selection of local delicacies, sandwiches and light lunches. So whether yours is a flying visit to the Café or you plan on spending all day here watching the world go by, you can enjoy the best of Lancashire and beyond, bite by bite.

5. It has its own brewery. 

In what used to be the boiler house, The Bowland Beer Hall has made its home. Serving a minimum of 24 cask ales at any one time as well as an expertly curated selection of bespoke keg beers, lagers, bottled beers, ciders and cans, this beer hall is far from your average beer hall; it's a beer utopia. What's more, it's home to the award-winning Bowland Brewery, whose nature-inspired cask ales are brewed right beneath the chimney at Holmes Mill. Having placed themselves firmly on the beer map, The Bowland Beer Hall is a great place to socialise and sample the ever-changing selection of beers. Home to one of the longest bars in Britain, there's enough room for everyone so get cosy in the Chimney Room or take refuge in the Engine Room, where you'll find Elizabeth, the hall's resident 108 year old cross-compound horizontal engine.

Although beer is predominantly what draws people to The Bowland Beer Hall, it's far from a one-hit wonder. It also serves a great selection of wines and spirits, as well as some hearty gastro-pub inspired grub. And to ensure a lively ambience, the beer hall regularly hosts live music sessions and comedy clubs so if you fancy visiting a charming space filled with good beer, good food and good laughs, The Bowland Beer Hall is the place for you. Ale you need is love.

What's your favourite converted building?

Sleeping With The Royals: Boringdon Hall Hotel

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." 
Eleanor Roosevelt

When Tom told me he'd planned a lovely little getaway to Plymouth staying at the Boringdon Hall Hotel, I wasn't as impressed as you might think. Boringdon Hall? Rolling the name around in my head was doing everything but conjuring up connotations of idyllic hotel rooms, glorious spa retreats and 5* luxury (I am a hotel snob, after all). But as any grateful girlfriend would do, hiding my disappointment, I offered my thanks, gushing with all the pleasantries possible - and jumped straight on Google when he was out of reach to find out where the hell he was taking me. The second the web page loaded, I was speechless and my heart did all kinds of happy, excited flips. It seemed that Boringdon Hall wasn't going to be as boring as I'd first thought and my man had undoubtedly done good. This time, at least.

The history surrounding Boringdon Hall is unlike any other hotel I've ever visited. Dating as far back as 959 AD, Boringdon Hall has had a truly Royal existence, with King Henry VIII eventually claiming it as Crown Property in 1539. Even its name isn't what it first appears (unlike my initial thoughts): 'Boringdon' has no etymological links to 'boring' and actually derives from the Saxon word 'Burth-Y-Don', meaning 'enchanted place on the hill'. And I can tell you that the Saxons hit the nail right on the head. As we approached the hotel's magnificent meandering driveway, I immediately understood what all the fuss was about and why this hotel had commanded Royal attention.

Set amongst stunning, manicured grounds, a beautifully restored Grade 1 listed Tudor manor house stood proudly before me and waiting patiently at the entrance for our arrival was the Boringdon Concierge. After checking in, we were shown to our room (our bags kindly carried by the Concierge) and left to enjoy the hotel and its amenities. Downstairs you'll find the reception area, the Great Hall, the Mayflower Brasserie, event spaces, a corridor leading to the altra-modern Gaia Spa and a secret speakeasy bar. On the gallery overlooking the Great Hall, you'll find the Gallery Restaurant, the hotel's award-winning 3 AA rosette fine dining restaurant headed by Chef Scott Paton.  

First impressions registered and Boringdon Hall had stole my heart. Each room has been designed with opulence, heritage and comfort in mind (although there's no lift to the second floor for those less able to use the staircase). In the Grand Hall, lavish Tudor-esque chandeliers hang above a variety of Chesterfield sofas, while light is cast upon the rooms through enormous windows. Elsewhere, bookcases and historical paintings line the walls, while log fires crackle pleasantly throughout the building. Velvet, oak, leather and marble feature in almost every room and feelings of luxury, comfort and familiarity make it easy to switch off from the rest of the world. And with a total of 40 rooms and suites, you really can leave the rest of the world behind and enjoy a intimate, romantic getaway.

If you're feeling really romantic, a room like ours complete with a four-poster bed and a freestanding bathtub (big enough for two, I might add) should make for a night to remember. Located upstairs overlooking the Gaia Spa, our room contained all of the modern amenities required in today's world, while bringing its own unique character to the party. The antique wooden furniture, the remnants of an old fireplace and the huge, ornate double bed remain true to Boringdon's original Tudor style and sit well in the large open space, while the freestanding bathtub creates a welcome, contemporary juxtaposition atop a marble floor. In addition to having the bathtub in the bedroom, our room also housed a fully tiled, modern en-suite bathroom with a glass, walk-in shower, two fluffy robes, a hairdryer and lots of lovely ESPA toiletries.  

Of course, a romantic getaway isn't complete without a visit to a spa and the Gaia Spa at Boringdon Hall doesn't fall short. In fact, it's up there with the UK's best and most luxurious spas that I've had the pleasure to relax in. Inspired by Mother Nature, the spa's interior and exterior are made from natural materials including wood, stone and glass to help bring the outside in.

The main spa area boasts a heated indoor swimming pool, hot stone beds, loungers, a hydrotherapy pool with an outdoor swim-through, experience showers, a traditional steam room, a Finnish sauna, a crystal salt steam room and a Laconium herbal sauna and during the warmer months, guests can enjoy the outdoor relaxation areas and hot tubs. Without a doubt, I could happily spend the rest of my life in the Gaia Spa as each area is expertly designed with comfort and wellness at the forefront of its intention.

For those looking for a more active spa experience, the Gaia Spa is also home to a state-of-the-art gym featuring the latest cardiovascular and resistance equipment, free weights and separate changing areas. And for those looking for a more personalised wellness experience, the Gaia Spa offers treatments and therapies, including massages, facials and beauty treatments, to nourish the mind, body and soul. Exclusive to those having treatments, the deep relaxation room overlooking the wild flower meadow offers an inner sanctum of peace and serenity for the ultimate spa experience.

After a glorious afternoon of relaxation in the Gaia Spa, we headed to the Gallery Restaurant to sample their a la carte menu. The restaurant itself is intimate and charming, with immaculately pressed white table cloths lining each table and a cosy, romantic ambience. Once seated and after being plied with alcohol (a glass of Sancerre for a me and Malbec for Tom), we were treated to a complimentary selection of the Head Chef's amuse bouches, whose unique flavours and adorable presentation set the bar high for the evening.

After the amuse bouches came the homemade bread and salted butter. Baked in-house daily, we chose from a selection of traditional and flavoured breads while we perused the menu. Whether ordering a la carte or from the 5-course tasting menu, the Gallery Restaurant menus change seasonally to showcase the finest of locally sourced ingredients and to create an unforgettable dining experience.

For starters, I decided to go traditional and chose a beetroot and goat's cheese salad but this dish was unlike any other beetroot and goat's cheese dish I've ever been served. The presentation was absolutely stunning and the flavours were vibrant and clean, blending well together with each bite. Who knew beetroot could be so beautiful? For my main course, I opted for the fish of the day with sides of green beans and dauphinoise potatoes. Simple but delicious, I couldn't wait to try more of Chef Scott's creations.

My final course of the evening was a deconstructed passionfruit cheesecake and it was so pretty, I didn't want to eat it. As a cheesecake connoisseur, I was slightly concerned that, although it looked beautiful, this contemporary construction wasn't going to live up to its more traditional sister's flavourings. But I had no need to be concerned; it blew my mind and we headed back to our four-poster bed feeling extremely satisfied. 

After a blissful night's sleep, we had enough time for a breakfast feast in the Gallery Restaurant before we needed to head back to London. Although it was a flying visit, there's no doubt in my mind that our stay at Boringdon Hall was one of the most memorable, romantic evenings I've had. Every element - from the welcome, the history, the decor, the four-poster room, the staff, the spa, the ambience, the food, the wine - was faultless and I would relive every moment again in a heartbeat. In typical British style, the only element against us was the weather; it rained so hard while we were in Plymouth yet the wetness only added to Boringdon's beauty. The house beamed, the gardens glistened and the history lived on. We said goodbye once but I'm sure we'll be seeing you again soon, Boringdon Hall. 

Stay boring beautiful. 

Have you ever been to Plymouth?

© Rosie Romance

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