The newly renovated Fordingbridge Railway Hotel has reopened after months of closure due to the lockdown.
The old Station Road pub has been transformed into a new boutique hotel and yesterday (Friday May 21) began welcoming hotel guests and patrons.
The history of the building
It was opened in the 1860s by Eldridge Pope, a brewer from Dorchester, and served Fordingbridge station, which was one of the stops on the new Salisbury and Dorset railway.
The line was closed in 1964 and the Railway Hotel became The Load of Hay and was later named after artist Augustus John.
The renovation was led by Brian Currie, who restored the Regal Cinema in Shaftesbury Street, Fordingbridge.
Restoration work on the building took around two years and cost around £ 2million. The design is dedicated to its historic rail links.
There are five en-suite bedrooms – each named after famous trains including the Orient Express, the Bournemouth Belle, and the Flying Scotsman.
The rooms have their own individual and unique design inspired by their train namesakes.
There is also a separate two bedroom cottage and a large downstairs bedroom suitable for people with reduced mobility.
Excitement of welcoming guests
Manager Mark Pinn said: “It is really great to welcome people to the Railway Hotel. It is a brand new hotel.
“The whole team is really delighted to welcome all of our customers and guests and to be able to show them around.”
Mark says the hotel is “totally different” from other establishments in the area with its “unique” rooms, which provide a different experience for its guests.
What the hotel will bring to Fordingbridge
“It will be unique because it is the only hotel in Fordingbridge,” adds Mark. “I expect more people to come and travel and stay in the area and visit the New Forest.”
The hotel also provides a dining experience for visitors as well as first-class Pullman dining car guests with international cuisine available including Korean beef and Panzanella style salad, shown below, along with candied pork belly and tandoori chicken, familiar favorites like fish and chips and steak.
A lunch menu is also offered alongside a selection of desserts including a double chocolate brownie with caramel sauce, raspberry tuille and vanilla ice cream, Pimm’s jelly and vanilla pie.
All of the stands have been created to resemble a train car and have their own image view of an iconic destination.
The hotel hopes the menu will appeal to both locals and visitors.
Covid security measures
- Guests and diners will scan the QR code upon arrival
- Hand sanitizer will be in various locations around the hotel
- Staff will clean surfaces regularly
- Tables will be socially distanced and reservations will be limited
- Masks will be worn by staff and guests
- The rooms will be disinfected and cleaned between stays
Mark said, “It’s about keeping cleanliness and everything else to make people feel safe.”
Due to the pandemic, stays are expected to be popular again this year and the hotel is hoping to see demand for its rooms.
Mark says the hotel is already seeing demand with rooms “selling out pretty quickly” with high demand, especially on weekends.
“We expect it to be a busy summer. We will welcome everyone – families, couples, singles, anyone who wants to come to this area of the New Forest,” he added.
“There is a lot to do here and a lot to see.”
For more information, meet at the hotel website.
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