In May of this year Queen Elizabeth II will celebrate the 70th anniversary of her coronation - 70 years of sitting on the throne and being the U.K.’s monarch. Now, this is the first time in British history that a Queen or King has celebrated a Platinum Jubilee here in the U.K, and us lucky Brits have been given an extra bank holiday to mark the landmark royal occasion. Whether or not you’re a royalist, you can’t complain about another day off of work! And for the hospitality businesses, this means an extra-long bank-holiday weekend (Thursday 2nd - Sunday 5th of June) - meaning extra hours for hardworking Brigaders and bumper profits for bars, hotels and restaurants.
The U.K. know just how much a bank holiday weekend gets us out and about, now think just what we can do with a four day weekend! With a bit of luck, the weather might hold out and it’ll be a great time for patrons and businesses alike, and if we’ve stayed sensible with the Pimms, we might turn on the telly and tune in to watch the Jubilee Celebration: more than 500 horses and 1,000 performers putting on a show outside Windsor Castle.
The Windsor show isn’t the only Jubilee event, however - up and down the country businesses and private events are being planned - the Guardian reports 1,458 public events and 1,775 street parties or private events officially registered to take place from 2 to 5 June. These parties are for everyone and anyone - from fancy corporate soirées with champagne and aperitifs, right down to back garden buffets with pineapple hedgehogs and cocktails sausages. The U.K. is ready to celebrate - so much so that B&Q claims to have sold over 100,000 meters of bunting. With excitement building, all hospitality businesses should expect to get involved with their own events and Jubilee offers, and social media should be primed to advertise this. Think Queen-inspired cakes and sweets, or simply a Platinum Jubilee 2-for-1 offer - anything with a Jubilee hashtag is bound to draw attention online, but inventiveness will be rewarded here.
Not every event needs to be bunting and buffets - London’s Southbank Centre are holding a punk-song writing workshop called Punk Alley to help adults and kids as young as 6 release their ‘inner anarchist’, whilst the evening will be host to a LGBTQI+ club night, ‘Duckie’s ‘Alternative’ Royal Command Performance’ - a night especially catered for ‘abolitionists, unpardonables and ne’er do wells.’ In other words, you can use the Jubilee buzz to craft an event to your liking, without losing your brand’s individuality. Businesses should be thinking - how can I mark the Jubilee and stand out from the crowd?
Smaller businesses need not try to corner the Jubilee market alone - with street parties and park fairs set to be a booming hub for celebration, why not try and get involved? Local businesses should consider teaming up and offering their neighbourhoods the best in local food and drink - hotels can get involved by offering out event spaces too. The government has created free online toolkits to help begin preparations, these include games for children and even a downloadable playlist full of music from British icons - think Elton John and Ed Sheeran.
But even a charitable donation to the local neighbourhood street party would be a good option - it might not be money in the till but it will surely generate good favour with local customers and, at the end of the day, charitable donations are free advertisements. If your food and drink are the talks of your local Jubilee celebration, then you’ll be expecting these customers to be coming to your business well after the Jubilee celebrations are done and dusted.
With 70 years on the throne, Queen Elizabeth II’s reign has seen some giant cultural landmarks for us Brits. And whilst the country is changing every decade - new music, new foods, new fashions, - the Queen has been a bedrock; her presence as consistent as her Christmas speeches.
But the Queen isn’t the only piece of history with cause for celebration - up and down the nation we have independent businesses that’ve been running much longer than the Queen’s reign - and some longer than the Kings and Queens before her! So, in order to give the hospitality industry a share of all this Platinum Jubilee buzz, we’re going to have a look at some of the oldest pubs, restaurants and hotels in the country - and since we’re all going to need a place to stay over the bank holiday, let’s have a look at some hotels, shall we?
The U.K. is a country rich in history - everyone the world over knows this, with castle and palace visits topping our most-visited tourist destinations. But you don’t need to visit Buckingham Palace or Edinburgh Castle to get a sense of British history - you could go and stay in a hotel dating back 1000 years - (yes, one thousand years!) The Porch House is set in the picturesque and charming town Stow-of-the-Wold in the Cotswolds. You won’t be surprised to know that many, many hotels in the U.K. stake the claim to be the oldest in the country, but Gloucestershire’s The Porch House have gone through the pain of carbon dating their roof beams to prove that the building is over a thousand years old, whilst they were taking customers in 947AD. The Guiness Book of World Records has officially named The Porch House as the oldest hotel in the U.K. A place full of stories, many guests come to have a look at the ‘witch marks’ scratched into the fireplace to ward off evil spirits. This is an ideal place to stay for a long weekend, the hotel is surrounded by history and walks in the green British countryside.
Another hotel claiming to be the oldest in the U.K. is the Maids Head Hotel in Norwich which has been taking customers since the 15th century. Many, many famous faces and historical icons have graced the Maids Head Hotel over the years - Catherine of Aragon stopped here (Henry VIII’s first wife) and the first Queen Elizabeth visited in 1587. The Maids Head Hotel might be an ideal spot to stay if you’re celebrating the Platinum Jubilee this year - you can stay in suites named after both Queen Elizabeth and Catherine of Aragon - lavish rooms filled with 16th Century furniture can make you feel like royalty for the night.
Taking customers since 1135, The Olde Bell has seen a whole host of famous - and infamous - people come through its doors and stay the night. During World War Two, the hotel hosted secret meetings between Winston Churchill and U.S. president Dwight D. Eisenhower - hundreds of years earlier the hotel hosted John Lovelace, a key member of the group who dethroned King James II. Lovelace supposedly escaped capture through a secret tunnel in the hotel’s basement - and who doesn’t love a bit of Mystery? The Olde Bell might be the place to stay during the Queen’s Jubilee, whether it be to soak in the history, or for those of us who fancy a bit of a rebellion.
Visit Blackfriars and you’ll be dining in the oldest restaurant in the U.K. Opened in 1239, the restaurant has gone through many guises in its history, but today it is as busy as ever and has become known locally for its great atmosphere. Hosting baking clubs, tasting tours, cookery schools in worldly cuisines and a calendar packed full of events, there is something for everyone at Blackfriars. Winner of the Taste of England Award from the North East England Tourism Awards, and recommended by Michelin, Hardens and the Good Food Guide, Blackfriars could be the place to visit during the Jubilee to guarantee yourself some top quality food. Head out on the toon afterwards and experience Newcastle’s legendary nightlife.
Built in 1654 at the end of the English civil war, the coffee house in Oxford is officially the oldest cafe in Europe. Despite being known for its coffee, the Queen’s Lane Coffee House has offered delicious traditional English food alongside its coffee’s for hundreds of years. A small family business, the Queen’s Lane Coffee House is a friendly face with simple, ‘scrumptious’ food - ‘a classic milky tea, burgers with meat from local butchers on the local market.’ What better place to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee than the Queen’s Lane Coffee House? Great for a day trip, head into rural Oxfordshire then enjoy soaking in the historic atmosphere.
Whilst not officially the oldest restaurant in the U.K, Rules has had a 200 year history which has made it an icon in London’s hospitality industry. This history has made it pop up in classic British novels by Graham Greene and Dorothy L. Sayers, whilst those with a good eye may have even seen Rules’ appearance in Downton Abbey.
Known to host celebrities and aristocrats, Rules is going to be one of the more expensive options on this list. However, if you’re wanting to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee by dining like royalty surrounded by bespoke furniture and impressive artworks, then this might be the place to go!
But if you’re looking to soak in some British history without breaking the bank - why not try one of the U.K.’s oldest pubs?
With beer being so central to British culture, it makes sense that the nation will be full of old pubs almost as old as the country itself - as long as this Isle has had settlers, they’ve wanted somewhere to drink! As such, there are many pubs claiming to be the oldest in the Isles, and the Old Ferry Boat Inn is one of the main contenders. Local legends argue that the pub has been serving since 560 AD - that’s over one and a half thousand years of pint pulling. Like many old buildings, this one claims to be haunted, so why not spend the Platinum Jubilee surrounded by some old souls with a story to tell?
This pub opened in 1383, meaning it has been welcoming guests for a whopping 600 years. Built as a rest spot on the pilgrimage between Winchester and Canterbury, it has seen a fair few notable faces pass through over the years, including royalty. In 1552 a 14 year old Edward VI stayed overnight, and whilst today his age might not get him served, we’d like to think the barman might’ve offered the young king a pint five hundred years ago. A medieval building with stained-glass windows and plenty of open fires, this is another great place to celebrate the long bank holiday weekend this June, and perhaps you’ll be visited by a royal ghost!
Out of all the old buildings on this list, The Fleece Inn is the only one to be inherited by the National Trust. Opened in 1425, this pub defied all odds and managed to be kept under the same family’s ownership till the 1970’s - that’s over 350 years! With a medieval cooking hearth being used as an open fire, the old stone floors and the antique furniture, this cosy old pub might just be the vibe you’re looking for if you want to celebrate the Jubilee quietly, soaking in the old atmosphere.
As it happens, nearly all of the restaurants, pubs and hotels we’ve mentioned are in beautiful, rural areas of England that many people often overlook. So, for the Jubilee’s extra long weekend, why not consider getting out of the city and start exploring these wonderful corners of the U.K.? Surround yourself in history, get out walking in ancient woodland, then come back to a pub over a thousand years old for a drink and some food - what better way to celebrate U.K. history? Whether or not we support the royal family, there’s nothing like a bank holiday to get us out of the house and up for a celebration - with prosecco flowing, food being eaten and hotels up and down the country booking up for the long break, it’s set to be a great time for businesses and customers alike. And for hospitality workers who’ll be busier than ever over the Jubilee break, block some hours out once it’s all done and dusted and enjoy some well-deserved time off.
If you’re looking to take some time off, or support your staff with extra workers, use Brigad to find temporary, qualified and professional staff to support your teams.
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