A rescue mission originally thought of as lasting for a year or two turned into a 35 year lifetime love affair with a beautiful old building.
There were to be battles royal with neighbours not wanting their status quo to be altered, and with the local fire authority who sought to impose draconian new safety measures.
John Searancke came to the role of hotelkeeper almost accidentally, and most definitely with much reluctance. After his parents’ marriage fell apart, he was dragooned in, at the age of 22, to pick up the pieces of their new venture, a barely-trading country house hotel that had, frankly, seen better days. Not only was it posting an annual loss, but the fabric of the building was crumbling and there was no money left to make improvements.
Over the years, and with the steepest of learning curves, the grand old building was renovated and transformed to meet the requirements of the modern discerning traveller. Accolades for the hotel and its restaurant were won; together they became a well-regarded destination for a number of celebrities – and those that deemed themselves to be celebrities but were not. Stories abound featuring idiosyncratic guests, overbearing public bodies, fractured family life and animals of all shapes and sizes. The local fire station next door was demolished one foggy night, people were frightened by flying dogs and snakes in the long grass, and there were, as befits a country house, strange goings on in the night. Many were the guests who checked in who really should not have been seen together.
This is a tribute to all the people behind the scenes who helped to make the hard-won transformation into a great success.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A very enjoyable and pleasant read! The author was the "reluctant" keeper of a hotel in rural England. As a young man, he was rather coerced by his parents into working at their business, a rundown hotel that they had bought. He ended up working there for 35 years! The author, over a long period of time, rehabbed the shabby old building into an award winning destination spot. The book is an engaging chronicle of all the missteps, successes, and strange occurrences he went through. I loved the author's dry, English wit. And his ability to laugh at himself. The stories he tells of odd guests were the funniest. And it is so unlike the standard, cliche volumes of "we bought a ruined house/winery/mansion in Europe" books that are flooding the markets today. This one will keep your attention. If you are looking for a fun read, this could be a good book to try!
Reviewed by Mamta Madhavan for Readers' Favorite The Reluctant Hotelkeeper by John Searancke is an engaging memoir that takes readers into the life of the author who ended up reluctantly being a hotelkeeper, and how his rescue mission ended up being a love affair with an old building. His parents had bought the place in the countryside to save their crumbling marriage, and the author was pulled into this venture when he was just 22. The role of a hotelkeeper is not as easy as many think because the reality of life in a hotel is very different, and the hours required to make it a success are punishing. The memoir is also a tribute to all the people who worked behind the scenes and helped in making this grand transformation a huge success. The memoir is straightforward and honest, entertaining and insightful, and the author opens up about the difficulties he faced, and how he managed to keep his faith in long-term planning. There are a lot of interesting stories about eccentric guests, how many guests who checked in should not have been seen together at all, and how it ended up being one of the favored stops for a number of celebrities. The author goes through the entire process, speaking about transforming the hotel methodically and in detail, taking readers along with him and his experiences while getting the old building renovated to cater to the needs of a modern traveler. There is not one boring moment in this memoir and the positive narration and outlook make this memoir an encouraging and motivating read. The author's story and experiences are enriching, and the ups and downs of his life and the accolades he received for the hotel and its restaurant will encourage many readers out there to become hotelkeepers.