Design Focus: Dumbuck House Hotel

2014 12 11 15.08.05

When Alchemy Inns took over Dumbuck House Hotel in Dumbarton last May, it was clear that the company would have to invest a fair amount of money to restore the historic hotel to its former glory. That £500K investment has started, and although it is very much in a state of ‘work in progress’, you get a feel for what the company is aiming for the minute you walk through the door.

The 18th century hotel is a firm fixture in Dumbarton, just a stone’s throw from the beauty of Loch Lomond. For years, it has been a favourite of locals and visitors alike, and that sentimentality combined with the business opportunity of Chivas Regal nearly next door, it needed a bit of TLC.

Originally used as a domestic house, it housed a confectionary shop where the lady owner lived above. Its next incarnation was as a coaching house before finally becoming a guest house in the late 1800s. Since then annexes have been added on, and Alchemy Inns clearly intends to continue the expansion.

Throughout the hotel, the tired carpets have been replaced with bespoke carpets by Stevens and Graham. Pink, light grey and dark grey tartan, the carpet complements the cream walls and white panelling in the hallways. The reception area has been completely revamped, with the walls painted cream with white panelling and the location of the reception desk has been moved from the front right of the door to the back facing wall, to enable the staff to greet guests as they come in.

The light brown wooden-floored passageway through to the restaurant has been made more interesting by the installation of a glass cellar, where the storage of wine and champagne can be seen. On the left of the restaurant, a black slate walkway makes way to a lovely cosy bar area. Three backed bar stools, covered in a grey tweed, stand in front of the dark-brown wood panelled bar, which matches the walls which are also panelled. To the left of the bar two open corner booths covered in green, white, pink, yellow and taupe checked tweed are complemented with two plain green tweed covered bucket chairs.

On the opposite side, a table with four chairs is flanked by a chestnut brown Chesterfield sofa and two matching chairs, with a low coffee table in front. A flatscreen TV and an in-built fire are on the wall behind the sofa while the bar is given a feeling of privacy by the room being semi-enclosed by a brown wooden shelving unit, with ornamental features of reindeer-style knickknacks, old-style typewriters, apothecary jars, old-fashioned scales and books. Half of the bar floor is covered with brown wooden flooring, slightly darker than in the hallway, while the area beside the sofas is carpeted in a striking, green paisley carpet. Lighting in the bar is muted, again giving the feel of somewhere to relax.

Going into the restaurant, the carpeting has been replaced by light brown wooden-effect flooring and along the left-hand wall, the three six-seater booths have been recovered in tweed, matching the booths in the bar.

The restaurant is dominated by a long dining table that can seat eight, with various other tables in dark-brown wood that can be joined to make up different sittings. Lighting throughout is provided by ceiling spotlights but in the hallway and restaurant there is a mix of wall-mounted lights and ceiling hanging lights in a distinctive antler style.

Moving through the hotel to the bedrooms, the spiralled staircase is also covered in the bespoke carpeting, and although the stairway’s handrail is yet to be painted, the new feel is already apparent.

The refurbishment of the bedrooms has started, although there is still a large amount of work to be done. Two rooms have already been added, one family room and a honeymoon suite. Situated on the top floor, both rooms have a luxurious wet-room with a double-headed shower and free-standing deep bath. Deep square porcelain hand basins are fixed to a marble top, while the floor is covered in light beige large tiles.

The family room is neutrally decorated in off-white walls, with a beige plain carpet. Again features around the rooms are limited, but the rooms are yet to be styled. Both rooms have a green silk-padded head-boarded bed, with the honeymoon suite featuring a sleigh-style bed. In the family room there are two single beds, while in the honeymoon suite the same room has a double-bed settee. Both have a wall-mounted flat-screen TV, and there are plans for more furniture to be added.

The work doesn’t end here though! Alchemy Inns has further plans for the hotel.

It’s already redeveloped an unused area through an archway beside the function room, to create a raised, decked area where seating and shelter is available, providing the perfect smoking area. Further plans will involve quite a lot of work for Kirk Architects, who are coordinating the work.

The restaurant is due to be relocated to the opposite side of where it is situated currently to allow more covers, and the outer area by the car park is going to be redeveloped. As the 18th century building is protected by its listed status, stringent planning laws have made it impossible for the company to install a lift, so the solution has been to redevelop the outdoor buildings that are currently there to create three self-contained lodges, allowing disabled access.

That all this redevelopment has taken place without the hotel closing is testament to Alchemy Inns’ determination to put Dumbuck House back in the heart of Dumbarton. Although its complete redevelopment is expected to take 12 months, this time next year, it will be worth it if the first viewing is anything to go by.

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Tags: design focus, Hotel