David Hurst takes a trip down Memory Lane and stays in one of the region’s most stunning landmark buildings.
When I cast my mind back to Morecambe I can remember the days of the crowds gathering to see the Illuminations shining along the sea front, the roller coasters in Fun City and swimming in the open air bathing pools before taking in a show with mum and dad at the Winter Gardens.
That was less than 40 years ago and just recently I re-visited this place of childhood memories. I was saddened to see all of these are now long gone or closed down and the town, as are many English seaside resorts, is struggling to keep its tourists.
But in all of this is a shining beacon of hope. Standing proud in its bright white coat and oozing the elegance of classic Art Deco is the The Midland Hotel.
We stayed for two nights and on arrival, when the glass doors opened with an uneasy squeal I entered with trepidation. Walking to reception I noticed some of the tiles on the original flooring had lifted and the floor had become cracked, I was concerned. I needn’t have been. Reception staff had a most welcoming manner and were ready to explain that the hotel is subject to strict procedures due to its listed building status and as such the wheels move slowly when carrying out work such as replacing flooring tiles. I was glad to hear, plans are in place to put the floor back to its former glory.
The hotel has 44 bedrooms and ours, on the second floor, had stunning views of the bay from the balcony. It was dressed in orange and cream with 7 ft arc lamp, two upright 1930’s style chairs and an extremely comfortable bed. The toilet shower and sink area is just off the bedroom and at first it appears there is no toilet but on further investigation it is actually behind a wooden panel that pulls open to reveal the toilet and in doing so closes the area off from the room. Quirky at first but it does become a bit of a nuisance, especially for that mid-night visit.
First night we ate in the Sun Terrace Restaurant which has floor to ceiling windows affording views over the bay, unfortunately it being mid-october it was dark but that didn’t lessen our enjoyment of a fantastic three course meal which included such delights as Japanese Style Braised Pork Belly (£7.25) and Pressed Pheasant and Guinea Fowl Terrine ( £6.95) for starters and Holker Hall Haunch Venison (£22.95) or Blade of Beef Bourginon (£16.95) for the main. The waiters and waitresses could not have been more pleasant and ready to suggest a nice wine with the meal. We opted for a Margaret River Australian Red Shiraz ( £30). After the meal we retired to the bar with its impressive chandeliers and comfy chairs.
The next day breakfast was served in the same Sun Terrace Restaurant and this time we could appreciate that view. There is plenty of choice on the buffet, including a tot of whisky for the porridge, a full breakfast, Manx Kippers or Smoked Salmon. We spent our day in Lancaster and Lancaster Castle, to join a tour which now includes the recently opened former HMP cells which, until recently, were out of bounds to the public as they were otherwise occupied. The tour lasted around an hour and half and was well worth the admission price of £8.
Although The Midland has a spa where you can be pampered with a luxury beauty treatment, it has no pool, so instead guests are invited to visit the sister hotel Lancaster House which is around eight miles away or just a couple of miles from Lancaster Prison, so we ventured over to spend a couple of hours enjoying the hospitality there. The swimming area is in the Sandpiper Club and includes an indoor and outdoor jacuzzi, a sauna and steam room. After several lengths and time relaxing in the surrounding areas, we ventured into the Sandeman Bar and it would have been wrong not to sample a little tipple of the famous port before returning to what was rapidly becoming our favourite hotel.
The second night saw us dine in the Rotunda Bar. The circular bar in the centre of the room is lit by a jaw dropping chandelier and surrounded by bright red leather alcoved seating from which we ordered our pre-dinner cocktails, around £7 for the likes of a Honey Bee Mine or Dark and Stormy.
The food is slightly cheaper in this restaurant, which is also open to the public and we found it a little more hit and miss. We shared our starters of Ploughmans and Vegetarian Tapas (£8.75 and £9.75) and couldn’t believe how good they were, but rather disappointingly the main course of fish and chips with mushy peas was left almost untouched.
This Morecambe lady is 80 years old this year but after renovation work was carried out in 2008 to re-open the building, she is growing old gracefully and like your old grannie, you love her for all her faults and wouldn’t change a thing about her. The longer we stayed, the more the place grew on us, as it enveloped us with its style and grace and incredibly attentive staff.
The Midland Hotel, Morecambe
Reservations: 08458 501 240 (UK) +44(0)1524 424000 (Outside UK)
Bed & Breakfast Tariff to Dec 31 2013
Classic Room £47-£94
Feature Sea View Room£69-£138
Luxury Sea View Room£87-£174
Rates per person per night, based on two adults sharing twin/double, Bed and Full English Breakfast inc.