What is Chrissy’s Collection?
With her lengthy travel background, Chrissy has years of experience assessing accommodation with quality and customer satisfaction firmly in mind. She was also a hands-on Director of an upmarket Kensington apartment-hotel for five years.
As our own Silver Travel Advisor we are delighted that Chrissy brings her experience and eye for stylish detail when she reviews Inns and Hotels. Chrissy’s Collection are her personal recommendations of places with something extra that makes them stand out from the rest because of their quirkiness, location and style. There is a huge range of fabulous places to stay, particularly in the UK and Europe, that refreshingly do not tick all the boxes for a standard hotel rating where small really is beautiful. Typically, they are older, historic buildings that offer individual accommodation as well as friendly service and great food. In short, special places punching well above their weight and offering value for money.
Oh tidings of comfort and joy. Christmas. A wonderful time for families and getting together as every magazine and TV advert constantly tells us as soon as the summer holidays are over. With so much riding on The Day it’s perhaps not surprising that most of us feel totally abandoned unless we are surrounded by our nearest and dearest. But with today’s disparate families often our dearest are not very near and Christmas can present huge logistical problems for multi-generational families living around the country. Often the middle sandwich generation, GUCGEP – try saying that when you’ve had a drink (grown-up children, grandchildren and elderly parents) – is hit the hardest who, in terms of trying to keep everyone happy, spend much of their holiday stuck in traffic racing around the country trying to fit everyone in and spend The Day exhausted. Sound familiar?
A further complication, which will become even more problematical if the Government’s suggestion that older people sell their houses if they are not using all their bedrooms, is where to stay. As many people aged 80+ have already downsized and are either not very keen on travelling for Christmas or, sadly, are not well enough, this further complicates where to spend The Day.
For the first time last Christmas, with grown up children all doing their own thing, my husband and I found ourselves with the prospect of spending it alone if we stayed at home in London. Both having elderly parents in the north we decided we would take the opportunity to visit and share The Day with them, something we haven’t been able to do for some years due to having nowhere that we could all stay. Then comes the conundrum. With the Pennines dividing parents how to keep everyone happy and feel included without causing a further rift between the Houses of York and Lancaster?
To compromise we decided it would be a good idea to spend Christmas Eve together in a small hotel so we could at least have some quality time together after the trek from London and wake up to open Christmas presents before heading off for lunch with our respective parents. Good idea in theory but this is where the problems really started.
I spent several days researching and contacting hotels covering a large area around the Ribble Valley area of Lancashire and Yorkshire. Unless offering an expensive Christmas ‘package’ practically all hotels and tourist facilities close as I was repeatedly told, so their staff can be at home with their families. However, it seems to me that more small hotels around the country could open and still give their staff time off as there must be many other people like us who want to travel to see relatives but have nowhere to stay within striking distance.
Three days of hard calling eventually paid off and I found a room for Christmas Eve. Naturally it was a Lancashire hotel that came good and ticked all the boxes. A small pub with six bedrooms in the middle of a picturesque village and a reputation for good food and hospitality. They could provide accommodation but not breakfast on Christmas Day due to lack of staff in the kitchen. However, we could take our own food and check-out whenever we wanted.
After a rather lengthy drive we arrived at the Waddington Arms around 7.30pm on Christmas Eve. The bar and restaurant were rocking. Andrew the charismatic Landlord greeted us warmly and introduced us to his Head of Security, Eleanor, aged nine. Eleanor and Andrew took us to our room where we relaxed for half an hour before supper. The room was very comfortable and overlooked the church and stream that runs through the village.
As we walked downstairs Eleanor was waiting for us at the bottom of the stairs. With one quick nod and a wink to us from Andrew she semi-frisked us to make sure we hadn’t made off with anything from the bedroom. Having established we had no swag, squeezing passed drinkers at the bar Eleanor then took us through to the restaurant. Being a village pub it was full of locals of all ages out for a good night to kick off the festivities. When George, aged 12, came over to give us our menus and very politely check we were OK I began to wonder how many under-age children the hotel were employing. But, for a change, everyone really was welcome at the ‘Waddy’ and Andrew kept regulars’ kids happy by giving them ‘jobs’ (which they clearly loved) leaving their parents free to enjoy themselves. Result: great atmosphere.
We enjoyed our meal – bistro fare as well as Christmas special dishes and there was a good selection of wine not to mention the local Waddington bitter, which my husband declared to be excellent. Everyone was extremely friendly – well it was Lancashire – and after a good meal and chat with locals we went upstairs, fully expecting it to be noisy but we don’t remember falling asleep so obviously it wasn’t a problem. True to his word, Andrew had left our juice, yoghurts etc., in an ice bucket on a tray complete with cutlery, crockery and napkins outside our door so we could have breakfast in bed on Christmas morning. Perfect. And I even got a few nice presents to open.
After a short walk around picturesque Waddington my husband went off to Yorkshire to take his mother out for lunch and I waited for my brother to collect me to drive to my parents to make my surprise entrance. As I waited Andrew came back to open the pub for the pre-Christmas lunch crowd – apparently half the village were expected to drop in for a Christmas Day tipple and I can appreciate why they would. You see, the Waddington Arms is a truly local pub that offers great service, a great atmosphere and, importantly, great value. The main building is over 300 years old and although it has been refurbished several times over has still retained its character and charm. Throw in the natural charm and friendliness of the Landlord, Andrew, who said ‘we are all things to everybody and its important to make people feel special’ and you have a winning formula. Genuine service with a smile.
The cost of our accommodation, meal and drinks came to the grand total of £111.91, surely the best value around. Which is why the Waddington is perfect not just for Christmas, but at all times throughout the year.
The Waddington Arms
Waddington, Near Clitheroe, Lancashire.