Bike & Boot, Scarborough
A new hotel concept that focuses solely on the practicalities of cycling and walking in typical English weather. Inevitably mud is something of a preoccupation. “We will have drying areas, a bicycle station with cleaning area, a dog grooming and bathing station,” says Simon Kershaw, executive director. “And a shower area for guests, too.”
With Bike & Boot, Kershaw and his business partner Simon Rhatigan are making a £2m bet that the British are willing to swap foreign tans for a fine coating of the British countryside. The first one, with 60 rooms, opens on the seafront in Scarborough in May, but is already taking bookings.
‘‘In terms of facilities, it’ll be ski-chalet level,” says Kershaw. Hotel guests will get access to its “Retreat”, with complimentary tea, coffee and cake. The secure cycle storage area will have CCTV and if the weather is really atrocious, there’s an in-house cinema and an all-day restaurant.
Until now, hostels have largely led the way in terms of offering good facilities. They are anticipating a reboot of the classic touring holiday; motorcyclists won’t be forgotten, nor will classic car drivers. Both subcultures will have dedicated secure areas to park and there will be charging points for electric cars. Kershaw and Rhatigan, with over 40 years experience in hotels between them, have already pinpointed sites to expand to in the satisfyingly hilly areas of North Wales, the Peak District and the Forest of Bowland.
Country house hotels have slowly started to adapt too, ditching the hunting, shooting and fishing ethos for less class-ridden activities. As holiday-makers are thinking more seriously about their carbon footprint and the ethics of long-haul flights, Kershaw and Rhatigan’s niche offering feels like perfect timing.
• Rates start at £70 room only, rising to £185 for suites,bikeandboot.com
This hostel in Postbridge, Devon has the active essentials of cycle store, drying room and laundry area. There’s a family-friendly six-mile circular route that goes past the hostel, while Bellever Forest has more trails that are also good for novices. Walking and climbing is also superb, including circular routes and more challenging ones.
• Private rooms, sleeping up to three, from £36, room only, yha.org.uk
Enniskeen Country House Hotel, County Down
This small hotel in the Mourne Mountains is run by a family of enthusiastic walkers. It does a pick-up and drop-off service for both walkers and cyclists, as well as providing laminated maps, packed lunches and Thermos flasks. Back at the hotel, a Victorian mansion built by a local tobacco and shipping-rope magnate, the drying room comes with dehumidifiers. Bike hire can be arranged, including e-bikes. The hotel also has walking boots, waterproof clothing and rucksacks for hire.
• Doubles B&B from £100, enniskeenhotel.co.uk
Castle Hotel, Shropshire
In the tiny market town of Bishop’s Castle, this hotel has a history that reaches back 300 years. It now has a keen cyclist in charge. There’s secure lockable space available for bicycles, as well as overnight clothes-drying facilities. In addition, there’s an external hose and brushes to clean bikes, plus bicycle repair, pump, tools and first aid kit available. The Bishop’s Castle Ring and the Bishop’s Castle Challenge Walk provide plenty of challenges for experienced walkers.
• B&B from £110, thecastlehotelbishopscastle.co.uk
Pen-y-Gwryd Hotel, Gwynedd
At the foot of Mount Snowdon, this was once a key training base for the successful 1953 ascent of Everest. There’s still a 1950s ambience, from the vintage hobnail boots on display and the chintz furniture, alongside wood fires and hearty meals. It’s fair to say that mountaineers are top of the heap here, but walkers also come in their droves, and while there’s no dedicated storage, cyclists can store their bikes in the locked beer shed.
• Doubles B&B from £95, pyg.co.uk
White Swan, Yorkshire
A cheery pub in the market town of Pickering that’s nicely placed for the Tour de Yorkshire highlights, as well as Dalby Forest, which has hosted the world mountain bike championships. Owned by a cycling enthusiast, plenty of thought has been given to the facilities including a drying room, lockable storage and a work-bench. There’s a proper pub atmosphere with open fires, plus Feast, a café that can provide a packed lunch.
• Doubles B&B from £150, white-swan.co.uk
Manorhaus Ruthin and Llangollen
Just over the Welsh border from Chester, Ruthin’s walking trails around Clwydian Range, Dee Valley and Offa’s Dyke means that this hotel has a strong walking heritage. Road cycling highlights include the Horseshoe Pass running from Llandegla – just outside Ruthin – to Llangollen and there’s also the mountain-biking centre at Coed Llandegla. At Manorhaus in Ruthin, there’s lockable storage for three bikes; its sister hotel in Llangollen has space for six. As Chris Frost, co-owner of Manorhaus, says: “If you have a £5,000 bike, you want to know it’s going to be stored properly – and you want to stay somewhere nice.”
• Doubles from £80 room only, manorhaus.com
Bunk & Breakfast, Yorkshire
Basic but well thought through accommodation that is part of the Dales Bike Centre in Swaledale Valley. There are 14 bunk beds, with shared facilities plus café, repair shop, washdown area and, above all, 24-hour cake access via an honesty box (there’s usually a selection of around 15 different bakes). Nearby rides include the 30-mile Tan Hill Loop.
• B&B rooms from £58, dalesbikecentre.co.uk
Selkirk Arms Hotel, Dumfries & Galloway
In the arty town of Kirkcudbright, this friendly inn has a large, lockable storage area for bicycles, with a wrench and tune area with washdown and lube facilities. Owner Chris Walker has a variety of routes to share on Strava. If you don’t bring your bike with you, nearby Galloway Cycles can rent bicycles from £30 a day. On foot, there’s the River Dee and the Solway coast to explore.
• Doubles B&B from £99, selkirkarmshotel.co.uk
Easily accessible by train, this luxury hotel near Ambleside has a partnership with Arc’teryx that allows guests to borrow everything from boots, jackets and gloves to rucksacks. It’s part of the Langdale Estate, so guests have 14 hectares (35 acres) to explore – with Hodge Close off-road cycling just beyond – and can spa their aches away afterwards. There’s secure storage for bikes and bike hire available nearby.
• Doubles B&B from £314, 01539 438 062, brimstonehotel.co.uk
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