22 July 2016
The summer holidays are kicking off and it’s time to get out and explore. We spoke to spoke to Alix Young at The Pear Tree Purton about their lovely family hotel.
What sets a family hotel apart from other hotels?
‘The most important thing is continuity. My mum has been at the hotel for 29 years and we also have customers who’ve been coming since then. When they visit us they expect to, and always do, see my mum. We remember all our guests and the things they love – their dogs name or their favourite tea. Our hotel feels more like a home that we’re sharing with our guests. It’s not pretentious or stuffy and many of our customers feel like an extended part of our family. I had a baby boy, Charlie, in March and we were overwhelmed by how many of our regular customers have sent cards and presents and want to come and meet him.
We often get business people from Swindon trying us for the first time because the chain hotel they regularly use is full. They are always surprised how good, friendly and adaptable we are.
We also like to add our personal touch to the hotel rather than use professional advisers. We update and refresh the décor in the rooms ourselves. Together with mum we have the perspective of two generations so they’re not fuddy duddy or super contemporary but somewhere in between. We apply this same approach to our menus, wine lists and bar choices too. If something alienates either of us then it doesn’t happen. Having a baby has also made me more conscious of children’s needs – like having High Chairs and getting the kids order on the table ASAP!
We often host family reunions and have had one family group coming for the last 7 years. One of their relatives left them some money to meet up every year with a rule that it can’t be in the same place twice. But they love coming to us as they have the whole hotel to themselves, and it feels like home, so they’ve discounted that rule for now!'
Tell us a bit about your restaurant
'We’ve always said we wanted to be a great restaurant that just happens to have a hotel attached to it, rather than the other way round. We believe that if you get the food right everything else follows.
The food is modern, British but at its essence it’s good, unpretentious, tasty food. Atmosphere is really important to us – we’ve created a really relaxed environment. Our restaurant aims to cater for those who just don’t fancy cooking and want to come out for just a main course, while also appealing to those looking for a special night out. We have 2 AA rosettes and a great team who really understand our customers.
We’re also open for breakfast but non-residents just have to let us know before. Otherwise it’s lunch, afternoon tea and dinner. Afternoon tea is sandwiches, cakes and scones and can be served in either the lounges or the garden.
Our restaurant overlooks the garden which is looking great at the moment with lots of catmint and wild flowers. We have a helipad so often get customers flying in to see a nearby location, and they normally stay for a bite to eat with us too.'
What’s your favourites dish from the restaurant?
'At the moment I love the pan-fried Sea Bream with tiger prawns, panzanella style salad, orange and chilli dressing and shoestring potato. It’s really lovely and summery and light and perfect for a summer’s day.
Our dinner menu changes every month but it’s been a bit tricky with this unpredictable summer. As our restaurant is in the conservatory you can’t ignore the weather, so we’ve been changing our menus more regularly to suit the ever changing climate!'
Have you been busy with Weddings this year?
'Since Charlie was born we’ve done 11 weddings. We can have weddings of up to 50 people and people love the fact that if they book 18 months in advance the same people they booked with will be running the occasion.
At the moment the ceremonies are held inside but we’re in the process of opening up a summer house for weddings which will be fantastic. We can’t wait.'