The new Bike & Boot hotel, in Scarborough, ranks among Rachel McLane’s most challenging projects thanks to limitations imposed by lockdown. The Malton-based designer was in the process of fitting out its 65 rooms and its communal areas when the Prime Minister’s announcement came.
Fortunately, Rachel is a “keep calm and carry on” type with a creative approach to problem solving. “The builders carried on and so did I, but I couldn’t ask my team to come on site as I had a duty of care. I’m not sure how we managed but we did,” she says.
The result is that one of the hippest hotels on the Yorkshire coast is now open and, like all the best places to stay, it offers plenty of decor inspiration for homeowners and renters. The interiors are punchy and exciting with references to Scarborough’s impressive heritage as Britain’s first seaside resort.
Homage has also been paid to walkers and cyclists who inspired the Bike & Boot brand, which is the brainchild of Simon Kershaw and Simon Rhatigan. The pair are well-known entrepreneurs with an impressive track record in the catering and hospitality industry. Simon Rhatigan is best known for turning the Feversham Arms, in Helmsley, from a pub to an award-winning hotel, restaurant and spa before selling his interest in it.
The Bike & Boot couldn’t be more different to his previous ventures. It is pioneering a concept that can be rolled out across key coast and country locations and bills itself as a “relaxed and fun” leisure hotel for the 21st century.
Along with being cool and not too pricey – with a small double room starting at £81 per night – it has a host of facilities for walkers, cyclists, dog owners and surfers. There is a “Wadobi” area with lockers, loos, washing areas, showers and secure cycle and surfboard storage.
For walkers, there is a boot washing station and drying areas and for wet and muddy dogs, there is a dog bath and grooming table. Dogs are also given their own beds in the bedrooms. There is also a bar, restaurant and a free cinema room showing films three times a day.
All the above added up to a lot of sourcing for designer Rachel, who likes to “renew, repurpose and replenish” where possible. This is more difficult than buying off-the-peg hotel furniture and fittings, but the result is much more interesting.
“The building warranted that kind of approach. It was once a row of Georgian terraced houses and retains much of the original architecture and character,” says Rachel, whose father is an architect who loved a renovation project. Her forte is planning and fitting out the space inside a building so it flows and is both practical and aesthetically pleasing.
“A building has to function. My job isn’t just making places look pretty,” she says. The devil is in the detail, right down to hiding ugly pipes to making sure that sockets and switches are in the right place and that meant working as a team with the main contractor, Infiniti Roofing and Construction.
The budget for the Bike & Boot fit out was not huge so when it came to renovating and restyling, she had to be creative. Tired radiators were sprayed in bright orange and rather than stripping back and replastering the walls, she covered some of them with period style panelling and others with painted timber cladding, which also added texture.
“In other places we simply painted the wallpaper that was there and that’s right up my street because I like to re-use. Good design does not have to cost the earth,” says Rachel, who spent the budget where it mattered, on craftspeople who made furniture and fittings.
Bespoke items in the hotel on Cliff Bridge Terrace include bedroom furniture, lighting fashioned from old bike wheels and crates and a handle for the residents’ lounge based on the ampersand between Bike & Boot.
The clocks featuring brightly coloured bicycle bells and flip-flops were made by Rachel’s son, Dylan, 16, while his sister, Ella, made some of the cushions. Wallpaper made of maps of the area was commissioned, along with posters created from old seaside postcards.
Among the most striking elements are the graphic blinds in the bedrooms, which Rachel had made using prints of vintage railway posters. The walls are decorated with pictures by talented Scarborough photographer Tony Bartholomew and there is “alternative taxidermy” in the form of bicycle seats and handlebars.
“It’s that kind of personal touch that sets the hotel apart. I was really pleased with the blinds and they act as another piece of art,” says Rachel, who is adept at hunting down “treasures”. She found old cinema seats and sourced a set of dining chairs for £10 each, which she had renovated. The new hotel bar was also a cast off that she revamped. “It would’ve been quicker and easier to have a new bar made but this one has character and is more appealing,” she says.
“Renew, repurpose and replenish is an ethos at the heart of our work. I believe in avoiding sending things to landfill or bonfires whenever possible, and I am glad to say we have done our little bit with some of the bar and restaurant furniture.”
Fun was a key element in the scheme and is exemplified in the feature light fitting in the hotel reception area. It is made from several pairs of old walking boots that, together, have racked up a few thousand miles and are now a quirky talking point for guests.
Rachel McLane Ltd specialises in both commercial and residential interiors and is based at The Maltings, Castlegate, Malton, www.rachelmclane.co.uk; The Bike & Boot hotel is dog, cyclist and walker friendly and is on Cliff Bridge Terrace, Scarborough, www.bikeandboot.com; Tony Bartholomew Photography, www.bartpics.co.uk.; Infiniti Roofing and Construction were main contractors, www.infinitiscaffolding.co.uk
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