MOST hotels are simply places to lay your head on reaching your destination, others are destinations in their own right – The Midland in Morecambe is one of the latter.
In many ways it is fortunate this stunning art deco hotel, which originally opened its doors in 1933, still exists. Mirroring the declining fortunes of British seaside resorts, the hotel looked to have had its day in the 1990s. Tired and run down, it finally closed down in 1998. For nearly a decade it stood derelict at the mercy of the sea and wind. There was talk of demolishing it, if that was it didn’t fall down first.
But fortunately there were a handful of people who were not going to let that happen, and in 2006 Manchester-based property developer Urban Splash came to rescue, giving The Midland a multi-million pound revamp, and three years later the boutique hotel chain English Lakes took over the landmark hotel.
The inspired refurbishment pays due homage to the past, but has a funky, quirky, fun air, while also, importantly, offering ultra comfort and practicality.
The Midland is an architectural gem. Many of the original elements, from the grand cantilevered staircase to artworks by the celebrated 20th century artist Eric Gill have been saved, while there also contemporary additions such as the chandelier in Rotunda Bar.
This is a hotel which down the years welcomed the likes of Coco Chanel, Sir Laurence Olivier, and Noel Coward as guests, and if they stepped back through the door tomorrow, they would no doubt feel quite at home.
Of course The Midland is now a top 21st century hotel, with all the accompanying mod cons.
It stands on its own curving round the recently refurbished Promenade overlooking the huge sweep of Morecambe Bay across to the Lake District. A sea view room is essential to appreciate the full glory of this magnificent view, and to people watch, as townspeople and visitors alike wander and cycle along the Prom, and down the stone pier, also revamped, right opposite.
Our sea view room was large and airy, with an equally large balcony which had two patio style doors leading to it.
Decorated in muted duck egg blue and browns, the colour scheme was actually taken from a vintage 1950’s film of Morecambe, featuring The Midland, which was found in the hotel during the rennovation. The bygone film can actually be watched on the TV in the room.
A wonderfully quirky room, from sea horse shower drain to floor to tree shaped coat stand, it was also supremely comfortable, from the large bed to space age 50s style chairs.
And if you struggle to initially find the toilet just try closing the bathroom door.
English Lakes, which runs a handful of hotels in the North West and Lake District, have an eye for detail which many others could learn a lot from, from stylings to service, with the latter first class from reception to the breakfast table.
They also know a top hotel needs a restaurant to match, and The Midland certainly has that.
How could we not start with Morecambe Bay shrimps, rye bred, and a few surprise scallops.
Staying local, the Lancashire Poussin – breast, thigh, leg chicken three ways, olive oil mash seasonal veg – was equally impressive, as was my good lady’s roast lamb rump, Parisian potatoes, pea and broad beans.
While the lady opted to finish with the Lemon Posett with a blueberry compot, he went for the cheese board, which be warned, is large as it is tasty.
The menu was complimented by a non-pretentious and well-priced wine list.
This was served in the delightful surroundings of the Sun Terrace Restaurant, with its view of the bay, and complete with a soundtrack of low key uninterruptive trad jazz in keeping with the hotel’s jazz age roots.
The Midland is a very special hotel, one with a rich past, and a very promising future.
Visit englishlakes.co.uk to book and for further details