We spoke to Jeff and Jill Sutheran from St Cuthbert’s House about winning awards, running a B&B in a former Presbyterian Chapel and the beautiful Northumberland Coast.
Tell us a bit about St Cuthbert’s House
St Cuthbert’s House is a former Presbyterian Chapel built in 1810, it lies about half a mile from the bustling harbour of Seahouses on the Northumberland Coast. We’ve restored it to provide six lovely ensuite guest bedrooms, and the former church’s sanctuary provides a delightful dining room and guest lounge. We’ve been able to retain and incorporate lots of the original features into the restoration and the beautiful spaces help us to create a very special experience for our guests. We’ve been operating the business for 12 years and we are lucky to enjoy high occupancy rates throughout the seasons.
You’ve won numerous regional and national awards – what impact have they had on your business?
We entered our first award in the year we opened, and although we didn’t win top spot we saw how powerful they could be as a way of getting the word out about St Cuthbert’s House. Since that first experience, we’ve made the Awards a part of our marketing strategy and have had some great exposure in regional and national press as a result. We know that these prestigious awards build trust among existing and potential guests, and that they can help to build a reputation for quality. We have no doubt that they have played a part in building St Cuthbert’s House into the successful business it is today.
What inspires you to enter the North East England Tourism Awards?
We consider it very important to stay focused and ensure that we don’t take our eye off the ball or become complacent. The Awards process is one of the tools which enables us to closely examine and pay attention to every aspect of our business – and to be measured against the very best in the region. We have also grown to love the razzamatazz of an Awards night!
What do you always recommend that your visitors do in the region when they are staying with you?
Most of our guests have done some research before visiting the region, and of course, we encourage them to experience the headline or iconic venues if that’s what they want. However, we love to explain to them where they can find equally lovely experiences off the beaten track – for example, where to find peace and solitude even on the busiest summer day on Holy Island! Northumberland is such a beautiful, inspiring place and the best and most restorative experiences are often to be found in the quiet spots.
Where do you like to visit in the North East when you aren’t working?
We like to visit the places we recommend to our guests to make sure we’re always up to date! We also love to get a fix of the busy city by visiting Newcastle regularly – but only for a few hours, as we usually can’t wait to get back to the beauty of home!
Are there any hidden gems in the North East that you would encourage people to visit?
We love to send guests off to discover the road less travelled. We always encourage them to incorporate a visit to Ford & Etal into their schedule – the Lady Waterford Hall is so beautiful and reveals such an interesting story too. Another favourite of ours is Wallington Hall, with its gorgeous walled garden.