Hotel Stories

White Hart Hotel – A local treasure

Fall in love with Yorkshire when you visit the White Hart Hotel, BW Premier Collection - an independent, community-focused hotel nestled in the heart of Harrogate.
See article

As a small-spa town, the Harrogate community thrives on tourism, and General Manager of the White Hart Hotel BW Premier Collection, Simon Cotton, is always eager to show his support.

Simon Cotton

Community culture plays a huge part in making guests feel at home at the White Hart Hotel. From championing local products in their rooms and restaurant, to hosting creative pop-up experiences for guests and locals alike, there’s always something new to be discovered.

After a tough couple of years for local tourism, Simon looks back at all the community ventures that kept their spirits high and shares what he believes makes a stay at the White Hart truly special…

The White Hart, a hotel with personality

Simon delights in creating experiences that stick with guests long after their stay – a feat he couldn’t achieve without the endless enthusiasm of his staff.

“The staff are what makes a stay with us feel so personal,” Simon says. “They love getting to know the guests and making them feel like part of the White Hart family, and the guests love being able to come back and see the same faces.

“It’s not just about two arms and two legs. We have some of the friendliest and liveliest personalities in the town working for us, and they’re guaranteed to make your stay memorable.”

White Hart Staff

 The White Hart and its attached pub, The Fat Badger, are proud local employers, with some members of staff having worked with them for over 10 years.

“The Fat Badger is a brand in its own right, and one the busiest pubs in town,” says Simon. “But it’s the manager, Clarke, that really gives The Fat Badger its buzz.

“He’s known for wearing these funky, Hawaiian shirts. I don’t know how many he’s got in his wardrobe, but there’s a different one for every day of the week! That’s his uniform – everyone knows who Clarke is.”

Surprise and delight

With the hotel closed throughout much of the pandemic, Simon wanted to find an alternative way bring joy to the local community. His first goodwill venture, was Badger Beach.

“When we first opened up after lockdown one, I wanted to do something a bit special. Obviously, there were still travel restrictions, so people couldn’t go on holiday. And that’s when I came up with the crazy idea of opening a beach.

“We put 10 tonnes of sand and a 10-foot high backdrop of a beach up in the car park, with deck chairs and buckets and spades so people could sit out in the sunshine. People loved it.”

Simon put on his second surprise after lockdown two, this time creating a winter wonderland complete with igloos, bar and lots of fairy lights for a magical touch. Each igloo perfectly housed the then legal limit of six, attracting people by their thousands. Then, when lockdown three ended in the spring, Simon had one last extravaganza up his sleeve.

“After the last lockdown there was a five week period of outdoor-only hospitality,” says Simon. “So, we created what we called PodVille.”

“We turned the car park into a little festival city. We took the whole top deck off the car park and lay down astro turf, then we brought back the pods for groups and set up a bar so people could come and eat and drink in the sunshine. It was great fun for all of us and just the morale boost the town needed.”

Championing local businesses

Proudly local, Simon goes out of his way to use Harrogate-based suppliers and champion home-grown brands.

 “We’ve always tried to use local suppliers as much as we can,” Simon says. “And actually, for what is essentially a small spa town, we have some great brands here that punch well above their weight.”

H2K toiletries

Indeed, Harrogate is home to a number internationally renowned brands including Yorkshire Tea, Harrogate Spring Water and Slingsby Gin, whose strapline proudly claims itself the “Spirit of Harrogate”.

“We’re lucky that being an independent, we have total control over what brands we use and how we run. We have a lot of fun and love to support local businesses, however big or small. Independence, individuality and personality – that’s what we’re all about,” says Simon.

Things to see and do…

Discover a few of Simon’s favourite local sites and activities:

  • Wander through the sprawling grounds of Ripley Castle and uncover the resident Ingleby Family’s 800 year heritage
  • Stop off for an afternoon tea with a modern day twist at Mama Doreen’s quirky café – a new local hotspot
  • The annual Theakston Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival attract crime and thriller writers from all over the world
  • Harrogate Christmas Fayre lights up the town with festive spirit and the spiced scent of gingerbread every December
  • Check out Harrogate Convention Centre for the latest stand-up comedy, live music and cultural events

A little bit of history

A grade II listed building in the Montpelier Quarter of Harrogate, the White Hart Hotel has been welcoming guests for over 250 years.

In its founding days, the hotel served as an inn to those visiting the town’s sulphur wells. These natural springs brought visitors from far and wide, with popularity soaring during the Victorian age, when the development of the railway spread rumour of the water’s healing qualities even further afield.

During wartime, the building took on a new responsibility, acting as a training centre for the NHS, before becoming a military base throughout the second world war.

Quietly situated out in the countryside, Harrogate played an important strategic role for military personnel, providing links to key cities including London, Manchester and Birmingham. 

Today, the White Hart Hotel is proud to continue its tradition as a home-away-from-home, welcoming visitors to Harrogate town while championing the local community for its ever-thriving enterprise.

White Hart hotel Exterior

Book a room at the White Hart Hotel today and discover the meaning of Yorkshire hospitality.   

Share this article

Where did this all happen?

Explore articles in other categories