The Hog Hotel, Pakefield | www.thehoghotel.co.uk
In her first Feast column, Sally Jones of The Hog Hotel in Pakefield, Lowestoft, talks about coming out of lockdown
It’s fair to say the year so far has not been without its additional challenges. Amongst other things, in mid-February someone took a fancy to our very distinctive giant wooden hedgehog sculpture, Dave, which sits outside the front of the hotel, and decided to drag it, 3000 prickles and all, off site and into a waiting van.
What on earth they were planning to do with it we have no idea, perhaps they thought he was made of precious metal. However, the power of social media was phenomenal – within 24 hours we had over 1000 shares and 80,000 views of our post and we were reunited with Dave! One of our wonderful suppliers Johnny Spillings from Penny Bun Bakehouse, saw him sticking out of a ditch about two miles from the hotel, looking like a giant conker. Happily, he is now back, patched up admirably by local wood craftsman Andy Barrett, and this time he is tethered down.
The hotel reopened on a room only basis in mid-April and had been fully booked over the bank holiday weekend only for four of the rooms to cancel 48 hours beforehand. It is very hard for hoteliers in the current conditions as we have to offer full refunds to people who can’t come at late notice due to Covid. So, of course, everyone now uses that as their excuse, true or not, and means we were left with 60 percent of our rooms suddenly empty.
A quick e-shot out helped refill them, but it is very frustrating as every penny counts at the moment. However we have had some wonderfully grateful guests during this room-only time, just happy to have a night away even though they haven’t been able to try our fabulous food or enjoy a drink in the beautiful bar or garden. It is becoming clear that people are starting to recognise the hotel as an excellent value quality option versus the much more expensive hotels in nearby Southwold, plus we have a better beach right on our doorstep!
The fun part of our job is the menu planning and tasting, and this downtime has meant we have been able to plan menus right through to the end of August. The restaurant and bar open again on May 20,, and we have some fabulous new dishes to serve throughout the summer including what I just know is going to be one of our bestsellers: East Coast shellfish platter of Cromer crab, Pyefleet pure rock oysters, Leigh-on-Sea cockles, shell-on prawns, potted King’s Lynn brown shrimps, whelks, and langoustine served with a bowl of hand cut chips, marsh samphire, sourdough and lemon. Amongst other offers, our popular Lunch for Locals ( two courses for £12) returns to its regular slot on Thursdays and Fridays, and our Early Bird Dinner (two courses for £20, order placed before 6.30pm) will be available Wednesdays to Saturdays. Excitingly, we are now fully booked in the restaurant for our first Saturday and are now working through the wedding reception, wake and special celebration enquiries as people start to feel confident to plan these occasions.
Dave the hedgehog and the rest of the team can’t wait to welcome customers back.