Northumberland’s oldest castle hotel, Langley Castle near Hexham, has reopened to visitors, with all the appropriate ‘defences’ in place, and has welcomed the Chancellor’s measures to support the tourism and hospitality sectors.
Langley was able to welcome visitors again on July 4, after many months in which just the Executive General Manager, Margaret Livingstone-Evans, and Assistant Manager, Bob Rutherford, were holding the fort and logging bookings from guests desperate to stay or get married at the 14th century castle.
In its first week, the castle has again been buzzing with visitors, some staying longer than they had originally intended, having been thoroughly impressed by the sanitary and social distancing measures that Langley has already put in place.
During lockdown, Langley had launched Bubble Weddings – smaller wedding gatherings that are permissible and which can be intimate and truly memorable occasions. This concept went down a storm, with the castle hotel even attracting enquiries from New Zealand.
Margaret Livingstone-Evans has also been liaising with the Reverend Dr Benjamin Carter, vicar of the Benefice of Haydon Bridge & Beltingham with Henshaw, to make it as easy as possible for brides and grooms to get hitched without a hitch.
The news that VAT will drop to just 5% for tourism and hospitality businesses has been celebrated at Langley, which believes it will make a massive difference for those planning a staycation break this year. The castle is already in the box seat when it comes to taking staycation bookings, currently featuring in a Press Association travel article that is appearing in regional and local press UK-wide.
It has also created a ‘welcome back’ offer that is priced at just £99 for dinner, bed and breakfast, for visitors from afar, or closer at hand. This has been warmly received, with current guests very happy to be able to eat in within Langley’s atmospheric 2AA Rosette restaurant, Josephine’s, rather than venturing too far.
The phone has been ringing virtually non-stop since the management team got back to life under the new normal, which sees many arrangements made upfront when it comes to things such as menu choices and payments, as part of the social distancing procedures that are required. Other changes affect check-in and check-out times, to enable the housekeeping team to carry out deep cleans.
Margaret feels Langley has got off to a very good re-start and is looking forward to building on this. The castle may be able to take advantage of some of the new government incentives that will provide roles for trainees, helping to boost the local job market and continue the castle’s long policy of providing job opportunities for local people.
She says: “We have stayed upbeat and optimistic and have managed to generate enquiries throughout lockdown, by being creative about the ways in which we can make things happen, in a safe way. We are continuing to evolve what we can offer and a lot of product development is taking place. This may well see us trialling new experiences now, which become permanent features, whether that is afternoon teas in our extensive grounds or the new Bubble Weddings that are already proving such a hit. It’s all about being positive and having a can-do mentality, whilst operating within the boundaries of what is legal and safe to do.”
With the Government support package providing another piece of good news this week, the castle that has survived attacks by Border Reivers, a fire that left it a ruin for centuries, and punishment from the Crown for the Jacobite loyalties and actions of past owners, is looking to show its customary resilience. The drawbridge is metaphorically down and Langley is providing its renowned levels of hospitality and making it possible for visitors to enjoy a stay, albeit under very different rules.
Booking enquiries can be taken on 01434 688888 and more details are at www.langleycastle.co.uk