DESIGN FOCUS: THE STATION HOTEL
The Station Hotel in Rothes opened at the beginning of February. Owned by Forsyths Ltd and managed by Neil Slessor, the re-opening of the once, almost derelict, hotel is a welcome addition to the area.
The Forsyth family are well known in Speyside, as they are the owners of the now 4th Generation Copperworks, also called Forsyths. Until the 1980’s the majority of Forsyths revenue was generated from the Scotch Whisky industry producing copper pot stills and condensers. Since then the businesses, run by family, has extended much further, and in fact, made it into the 2015 Sunday Times Top 200 in the UK for International Growth Rate. Forsyths activities now also cover steel fabrication, electrical and plumbing contracting, joinery, building and scaffolding services, as well as shot blasting and painting. Now they can add hotel owners to the roll of businesses they own.
The hotel itself had been closed for many years, and it had been used as temporary housing by the local council. Today the only original part of the hotel is the facade, although there is some stained glass and a few other original features too.
Neil explains, “The hotel was totally gutted, even the facade has been completely restored.”
Today The Station Hotel has 14 rooms, it has a formal dining room, Pagoda’s, which doubles as a breakfast room, a cafe-bar called Toots (after Richard Forsyth’s father) and a whisky bar called The Spirit Safe which currently has more than 300 whiskies on offer, and also boasts a Brass Spirit Safe – the first that I have seen in any whisky bar.
Thr3 Design, the Glasgow-based interior designers, were given a brief to bring the Station Hotel back to life, using well-sourced materials and finishes. They have certainly done that. The design is clearly Scottish, but without being twee.
The quality of the finish is apparent as you walk into the courtyard which leads to the hotel reception. This space will have outdoor furniture come the better weather. As you come through the glass doors two Pagodas are etched on them. Over the years the pagoda, which tops off distillery kilns and allows venting, has become an emblem of the Malt Whisky Industry.
The flooring in reception stands out – it has been hand cut and designed to the space in Burlington Stone. Throughout the entire ground floor, the hotel has underfloor heating, and this includes reception.
It’s not a large reception area, but it boasts a traditional reception desk and a small leather sofa. To the left lies the first of its two bars ‘The Spirit Safe’. Two bespoke copper pot stills fixed on the reception wall set the scene.
What makes this hotel particularly unique is the fact that because Forsyths owns a manufacturing plant for copper stills, the copper making skills that its team has is second to none, and they have been used to great effect in the hotel. For example, the two bars in the hotel incorporate copper. In ‘The Spirit Safe”, the bar features along its front scaled down copper cut-outs of the pot stills of each distillery in the area, (the sixty stills in a fifty mile radius of Rothes). Each pot still is different, and not one is repeated along the front panel. There’s not another company that could have created this artwork.
There is also a bespoke whisky display unit which runs along the back wall of the whisky bar. It has been designed uniquely for the hotel to display its collection of rare and unusual whiskies. Leather-like sofas and a mix of tweed and leather chairs complete the look. The majority of the artwork in the entire hotel has a whisky connection too.
Toots Cafe Bar & Bistro carries on the copper theme, with the specially made bar featuring a corner copper feature. The bar furniture is also quality – the dark wood tables have rounded edges and are thinner than normal, while the leather-dark tan fitted seating and tweed backed chairs give a contemporary Scottish feel. There is also a host of picture memorabilia which has been gathered from the Forsyth archives and elsewhere, and depict the history of Rothes.
Pagodas, its dining room, has 24 covers, features dark wooden modern panelling, and a fabulous collection of shots from photographs of the copper from the whisky stills. Dark leather fixed seating and leather lipped chairs with tweed backs make it a very comfortable room. It has all the mod cons too including a full audio-visual offering with drop down projector and screen, as well as computer charging points. This room can also be used for small conferences and private dining.
Upstairs has a lovely wooden bannister and mustard, grey and black tartan carpet, which sets off the original stained glass, halfway up the stairs, which has been restored.
All the doors to the individually designed bedrooms are solid dark oak. The rooms have a checked grey and mustard (tweed-looking) carpet, but the rooms themselves are not carbon copies, and all have their own personality.
Says Suzy Kingswood of Thr3, “The wallpapers in the bedrooms were selected to complement each scheme, using GP&J Baker and Ralph Lauren papers among others. Beautiful fabrics, from manufacturers like Mulberry and Zoffany, have been used in to fit with sophisticated furnishings from Selva, and Edinburgh-based Charlotte James Furniture, who manufactured the bespoke headboards within the rooms. Lighting came from a variety of sources including Jim Lawrence lighting, a British manufacturer of traditional but stylish lighting, and various other sources.”
The Capedronich Suite is the grandest. It has a mezzanine complete with a deep bath, and an oak staircase which takes you to the mezzanine. The very high ceiling has its own mini-pagoda, and the room also boasts a large modern four-poster, and oversized armchairs around a contemporary fire, dark wooden furniture and very large TV, which arises from inside a piece of furniture at the foot of the bed.
Not only are there rooms in the hotel, the original outhouses are converted in the courtyard and include a bedroom fit for use by disabled people, a family suite, and some Kings.
The Station Hotel is now an upmarket boutique/whisky themed establishment which would not look out of place anywhere in the world. The fact that it is in Rothes, the heart of Speyside, is a credit to the audacity of all involved.