Cool tones, a contemporary vibe and a clever mix of creative food and drinks all add up to create the perfect welcome at Teesside’s newest dining experience.
The Hardwick Arms Hotel in Sedgefield has recently reopened its doors after a £1.2m investment, including a refurbishment which has seen the Grade II listed Victorian building – one of the County Durham town’s landmark premises – undergo a complete transformation.
And what a transformation it is.
The major overhaul has breathed a brand new lease of life into the 18th-century coach inn which, says operations manager Rachel Johnson, has seen it become almost a polar opposite of what it once was.
Step inside and you’ll find cool tones and a contemporary hue in the trendy and welcoming 60-cover Herd and Herb restaurant, which has its own stylish lounge bar area for pre-dinner drinks.
There are beautifully designed booths to complement the tables in the main eating area, topped off by smooth wooden floors and trendy lighting.
The hotel has 11 rooms, all of which have been redesigned and are already attracting plaudits. Phase two of the refurb is also almost complete and will see the creation of a new Hardwick Bar and Summer Cafe from rooms that were previously used as a cellar, servants’ quarters and storage.
“The Hardwick Arms was the go-to pub for people in Sedgefield,” says Rachel.
“When we purchased it, safe to say it was quite tired, but we decided we would run it as it was for a period of time so we could listen and really hear what people wanted.
“We knew the direction we wanted to take it from the very start. The renovation has involved a lot of work but the results are amazing, we’re very proud of what we have created and have received some wonderful feedback since we opened.”
The project has taken four months and was carried out for owners EMA Group Holdings by contractors including Stockton commercial refurbishment specialists Wells Solutions.
Managing director Garry Wells and his team serve clients across the UK as well as right here in the North-East, working on everything from business start-ups to household names.
He knew the Hardwick Arms was a project he wanted to take on from the moment he was introduced to the owner’s vision for the place.
“I came to have a look around before we took the project on and it was the vision of the owners that made us want to get involved,” says Garry.
“The project involved a full refurbishment and we worked pretty much to a plan as the overhaul took place. From how it looked before to how it is now is a total transformation.
“The next part is completing the Hardwick Arms Bar and Summer Café and we’re looking forward to taking the success of this phase into phase two. We will be repurposing some of the original woodwork from the old bar and restaurant areas in a way that will add a little bit of that feel and history for the people who have been regulars over the years.”
Almost everything of the old room has disappeared, save for the bar, which has undergone a makeover of its own. One or two of the tables have also been restyled with a trendy distressed theme. The floors, ceilings, electricals and fixtures and fittings are all newly installed.
The Herd and Herb name, explains front of house manager Paul McCairns, came from the desire to provide local quality food from the “hoof ” as well as pescatarian and vegetarian choices – together with the fact that herbs run through the food and the drinks menu.
It has a double-edged meaning too. Diners will spot Herbie the heron standing elegantly in the corner of the lounge and cocktail area, adding to the whole ambience of the space.
“The menu is probably best described as modern British cuisine with a mix of the flavours of the world,” explains Paul. “The restaurant was designed with space in mind and to reflect an international edge.
“When the bar and Summer Café opens in August, it will have its own menu that will be a complement to the restaurant.”