Following 18 months of renovations and refurbishment, The Black Bull in Sedbergh in Cumbria is opening officially on 1 September. A 17th century coaching inn at the foot of the Howgills Fells, on the edge of two National Parks, The Yorkshire Dales and The Lake District, the boutique hotel is sure to attract not only the lovers of the great outdoors but also serious foodies and design and interiors aficionados.
The Black Bull is a family owned business by James Ratcliffe and Nina Matsunaga who own The successful Three Hares in Sedbergh. The property has been renovated with the task to build on the inn’s history and connection to the local landscapes by using local materials and crafts to create a hotel, a restaurant and a bar. It was also key to include Nina’s Japanese background in the project and as such Patrick Thomas of Up North Architects used the five elements, clean lines and neutral tones to link everything back to Japan’s strong design and culture.
The hotel has 18 elegant rooms of different sizes and décor, each named after a local fell. Expect superlative bathrooms with rain showers, large standalone baths and even Japanese tubs as well as bespoke furniture using local materials, hand-woven blankets made with Howgill Fells wool from Laura’s Loom, mirrors by Phil Constable, Petrichor* toiletries by the Sedbergh Soap Company made especially for the Black Bull and thick wool carpets by Wools of Cumbria. Of course, each room also enjoys great views of the Fells, the Yorkshire Dales and the pretty main street.
Food is very important at The Black Bull and provenance is key. Nina and James have strong relationships with local suppliers to ensure they get the best quality ingredients possible and you can often spot locals bringing mountains of mushrooms or fresh vegetables from their own gardens in the mornings. Nina is at the helm in the kitchen, having started her career in bakeries in Dusseldorf, Germany, before coming to the UK and working with partner James behind some of the most successful street food popups in Manchester and the very popular Three Hares café cum bistro in Sedbergh. Nina’s menus are all about “Field to Fork” and “Nose to Tail” dishes. She also uses her Japanese influences to instil a creative twist to her dishes such as Smoked Duck, Duck Tong, Miso and Broad beans for starters and Swaledale Goat, Jerusalem Artichoke, Chanterelle, Hazelnuts & Nasturtium as a main course.
Inside the restaurant, guests will find a cosy and warm environment thanks to the wooden panels created with the reclaimed wooden floors from the old bedrooms, the stunning landscapes pictures by Rob Withrow and a great triptych hand screen printed mirror by Phil Constable. Japanese elements also appear with the use of slate and suspended plants.
The Black Bull’s bar is the social hub where everyone happily gathers. The actual bar is bespoke and sits at the entrance to welcome guests. A warm stylish bar with fireplaces, cosy booth sitting with comfortable red leather seats is the perfect setting for locals and guests alike to enjoy pints of local craft beers from the Cumbrian Fells’ brewery or wines from the hand selected list made by James and eat simple and hearty dishes such as pork scratchings or Venison with chocolate pie with red cabbage and chips.
Close to the M6, the Black Bull is easy of access with direct trains from London and other key cities to Oxenholme. Sedbergh is ideally located to not only visit the Yorkshire Dales, go fishing, white water rafting or simply cycling up the nearby hills, it is also close to the Lake District, its scenic hikes, stunning landscapes and picturesque villages.
*Petrichor is the wonderful smell of the first rain after a long warm and dry spell