Back in business: how the re-opened Angel Hotel in Leamington is trying to lead the way for town centre's 'bounce back'

Leamington hotelier Dan Clifford of The Angel Hotel has applied the old adage that 'when the going gets tough the tough get going' and spent hundreds of thousands of pounds on refurbishment to make family-owned business read to welcome guests again post-lockdown.
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He invited myself, my partner and our two young boys to stay in a spacious family room at the hotel last Friday evening to get a feel for how it will be like for guests in the weeks and months after the easing of restrictions put in place during the Covid-19 pandemic.

And during a quick tour of the 200-year-old premises Dan, who has been living at the hotel during lockdown to keep an eye on the building, pointed out several changes and additions made which have been aimed at making guests feel safe but not smothered by new hygiene and social distancing measures.

Dan said: "My dad Dennis Clifford bought the hotel in the early 90s and he was a huge believer in the local community.

The Angel Hotel in Leamington.The Angel Hotel in Leamington.
The Angel Hotel in Leamington.

"That ethos is at the heart of the hotel and we are proud that so many people in the area make an effort to support the Angel as an independent hotel in a market dominated by national chains.

"We recently invested over £250,000 in created some new, premier deluxe bedrooms at the hotel and they have helped to attract business to the town centre that might previously have booked some of the more expensive out of town hotels.

"It was a big decision to convert our function room space into new rooms, but people rarely use hotels for family type functions anymore, and when they do they prefer the flexibility of our Counting House restaurant.

"Our aim post COVID has been to make the experience a perfect one for the guest - safe with peace of mind but not intrusive or awkward.

The reception of the new-look Angel Hotel.The reception of the new-look Angel Hotel.
The reception of the new-look Angel Hotel.

"We have installed bespoke sanitisation stations around the hotel, we have created a new breakfast process that is pre-order and can be delivered to the bedroom or eaten in the restaurants, and we have trained our housekeeping team on a meticulous deep clean process which even includes sealing the room once it has passed general manager inspection so only the guest themselves can enter from that point onward.

"It has been interesting to see so much leisure trade since we reopened last week, with a lot of room bookings from people have a short-break in Leamington, Warwick and Stratford and using us as a base.

"Hopefully that will continue and we can attract people to the town that will spend money in shops and bars and help other local businesses get back on track."

Businesses in the hospitality and tourism sector were given a boost last week with chancellor Rishi Sunak's announcing a cut in VAT from 20 per cent to five per cent.

One of the new rooms which have replaced the function room on the ground floor of the Angel Hotel in Leamington.One of the new rooms which have replaced the function room on the ground floor of the Angel Hotel in Leamington.
One of the new rooms which have replaced the function room on the ground floor of the Angel Hotel in Leamington.

Also announced was a new policy, 'Eat out to help out', which the chancellor described as creative and never tried in the UK before.

This will give people a 50 per cent discount on eating in restaurants and cafes, from Monday to Wednesday throughout August.

open from next Monday. The maximum discount per head under the scheme will be £10.

Dan has registered The Angel for this scheme, which will give people even greater value for money on the hotel's Counting House restaurant's set dinner menu which offers one course for £12, two for £15 or three for £17 and a three-course children's menu for £7.50.

Dining slots must be specificed by guests with food ordered in advance to limit the number of people using the restaurant at a time.

Upon re-opening, the hotel announed a new addition to its room rate list with anyone in possession of an NHS ID being given access to a 50 per cent room rate reduction for the duration of their stay.

Dan said: "Once we started getting calls from people wanted to book rooms as treats for people working in the NHS who have been working so hard in this time we realised that we should make it as accessible as possible."

Dan is hoping that by providing a safe and central base for people to visit Leamington, The Angel Hotel can help other businesses in the town to recover from the impact that Coronavirus has had on them.

He said: "It is very sad to see that many businesses won’t reopen and we certainly feel for those people – if any local businesses think we can help them then should contact us.

“We are hoping that Leamington people might encourage friends and family to visit this beautiful area and stay with us and give us a fighting chance of recovery some of the lost trade.

“This will allow us to preserve jobs and keep a building and business in Leamington that is one of the town’s old institutions.”