12:00 AM 21st October 2023
The Ripon Inn - A Transformation
Many decades ago, I used to return from university to earn extra cash working as a silver service waiter at Ripon’s Spa Hotel.
It was always good fun, even with the scary and indefatigable general manager, Georgina Curry; there’s much to be told about how she would speak in her low, lilting Scottish accent, putting many guests firmly in their place if they ever overstepped the mark. One day, she came down from her flat dressed in mufti and approached a chap from a local firm celebrating his work's Christmas party in the hotel ballroom, suggesting he had perhaps had enough to drink, and ought to head home, he duly emptied his pint of ale over her head not realising who she was. One of many tales that are in the annals of the former hotel.
As a hotel, it was in need of TLC. It harked back to yesteryear, when Victorian authors would write about spinsters coming up to Yorkshire from London for their annual sojourn.
In recent years it has welcomed croquet players from across the world heading to Ripon for the world championships. Fans of Lewis Carroll stopped over when making a pilgrimage to the city; it is thought Ripon was his inspiration to write Alice in Wonderland, or English choral music aficionados heading for festivals at Ripon Cathedral stopped off for lunch and a pint in the Turf Tavern or welcomed many from the racing horse fraternity. Many pop into the city at 9pm every night to witness the Hornblower set the watch.
This week, the hotel has been transformed into The Ripon Inn following a multi-million-pound investment from The Inn Collection Group.
Riponian star and Gold Medal-winning diver Jack Laugher, MBE, joined The Inn Collection Group at The Ripon Inn as the pub's latest reopening made a splash to celebrate its refurbishment.
It is the third and final re-opening in North Yorkshire this year for the Newcastle-based group, as The Ripon Inn has undergone a complete overhaul of the venue both inside and out, with a new, warm, and welcoming pub sited in six acres of gardens in the heart of the city.
The work was undertaken in partnership with Silverstone Building Consultancy and STP Construction, and the new look adopts The Inn Collection Group’s feel and atmosphere.
The interiors have been created in conjunction with Newcastle-based studio Design North, which has used opulent furnishings throughout alongside warming fires and big bars.
The Ale House
The Turf Tavern, The Ale House, is now a dedicated real ale hub within the inn, with six pumps installed to make a real showcase of a wide array of tipples, with Black Sheep, Rooster’s Brewing Company, and Theakston’s among the first to be represented.
It is the first in The Inn Collection Group’s estate to have such a space and has been adopted to maintain this well-loved point of difference from the inn’s previous guise.
As part of his visit, Laugher pulled one of the first pints of Yorkshire Pale Ale to be served by the inn, fitting considering his status as one half of the duo that won Great Britain’s first-ever diving gold medal at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.
An additional 18 bedrooms have been created by the conversion of the redundant ballroom area on the ground floor.
Offering a mix of single, twin, and double configurations, The Ripon Inn also has accessible rooms and family rooms with bunk beds, opening up its appeal to a wider range of potential residents.
As at the group’s other re-openings in North Yorkshire this year (The Harrogate Inn and The Knaresborough Inn), the installation of a state-of-the-art kitchen, including a specialist broiler grill, it is hoped the venue will become a go-to place in Ripon for pub-style food.
Commenting following the re-opening, group CEO of The Inn Collection Group Sean Donkin said: “The Ripon Inn is a fantastic addition to our estate. It has huge potential, and I think our teams and our partners have realised the exciting vision that we had for the property when we bought it back in 2021.
“Following on from the well-received re-openings of The Harrogate Inn and The Knaresborough Inn, I am excited for Ripon to open and for the revitalisation of this classic, landmark site to start in earnest.
The general bar
“We’ve created what we hope is a welcoming place to enjoy food, drinks, and company while, at the same time, taking care to retain the unique, historic character of the building.
“Adding 18 new bedrooms, we now have 58 on site, which is a significant boost to the city’s overall occupancy, and I am excited for our teams to give our guests a warm welcome to our latest inn.”
Only six miles from Junction 48 of the A1, this new addition to the Inn Collection and the city makes it an ideal place to visit the museums, the gardens, Fountains Abbey, the cathedral, or the race course. As the visitors approach, the welcome sign declares, ‘Welcome to Ripon Stay Awhile Amid It’s Ancient Charms’.