The Hog Hotel in Pakefield has enjoyed a timely spring clean – just ahead of the AA inspectors. Owner Sally Jones talks tarmac, vegetarians, and rosettes. 

Some people are going to leave a mark on this world, while others will leave a stain.ˮ
– Eleanor Roosevelt

There’s nothing like getting down and dirty to it and over the bank holiday at the beginning of May, that’s exactly what my husband, Nathan, and I did! And by down and dirty, I mean back to the life of 16-hour days, sore feet, and some good old-fashioned scrubbing. Our General Managers were off on a well-deserved weekend break, and we felt this gave us the ideal opportunity to work alongside the team and get to know them all better, as well as a chance to look at things again from a guest’s perspective.

To start – the scrubbing. The previous week, a guest had kindly trampled wet tarmac through the front door, up our grey lush, carpeted stairs, across the main landing and corridor all the way to his room at the back of the hotel. Pure bad luck he was not staying in one of our outside chalets, where less damage would have been done. It was pure Hansel & Gretel, but with tar, not breadcrumbs. Armed with a wire brush and plenty of elbow grease, we managed to remove a lot of the tarmac, but it’s fair to say that the carpets in some areas will need replacing earlier than we had budgeted, all thanks to this person’s careless actions. The next carpet will almost certainly, but sadly, not be pale grey.

The long days and evening shifts at the hotel were well worth it despite blisters; our feet just not used to it, and I had to ditch my not very health and safety friendly wedges for trainers, just two hours into my first shift! Bank holidays always seem to attract especially lovely guests, who are just that little bit more relaxed knowing that they don’t have to dash back to work on the Monday. There were true belly laughs from the bar as everyone got on so well, perhaps fuelled by the cocktail menu, including our top-selling Ukrainian Jack from which we are donating profits to #cookforukraine. All in all, it was a record weekend. 

From a menu point of view, we noticed a lot more requests for vegetarian and vegan food. In fact, one vegetarian guest commented that it was great to get such delicious choices, and that “she was a vegetarian, not had her taste buds cut out!” It has always been important to us that we can offer something for every diet, and our menu has got bigger and bigger over the last few months, and we are now signposting gluten-free options alongside the plant-based and vegetarian. Spending time at the coalface made us see we need to look at this, as it is becoming difficult for the relatively small kitchen in busy periods to offer such a wide choice. However, one thing is clear – a good vegetation option is paramount and will stay.

To top it all off in that week, we had a visit from the AA to rate the hotel and its food. Ever since we reopened from refurbishment, we have been aspiring to hit AA 4 star accreditation, and a coveted rosette or perhaps two for our food. So, to receive the news that we had been successful in both was terrific, including two stars for the food. It was a real accolade for the team – and thankfully, the inspector was very understanding about the tar! 

  • To book a table or a room, or to discuss an event, call 01502569805. thehoghotel.co.uk
    41 London Road Pakefield, Lowestoft, NR33 7AA
  • For Chef Terry’s delicious Cromer crab, crème fraîche & chive tart, torched blood orange and cucumber tartlet click here
    – don’t forget to share your photos with us @eatnourishdrink

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