AN AWARD-WINNING Cumbrian restaurant with rooms has been empowered to grow its offering with improvements to its services and facilities following a £50,000 investment from The Cumberland Building Society.

Perched 1,000ft up in the Whinlatter Forest above Keswick in the northern Lake District, The Cottage in the Wood is a unique Michelin-listed restaurant with rooms combining Chef Sam Miller’s creative cooking, boutique-style hotel rooms, friendly service and a warm welcome in a stunning natural setting.

The beautiful venue, which dates back to 1646 and boasts panoramic views over the Northern Fells, is renowned for its exquisite dining, with the restaurant with rooms being listed in the top 100 restaurants in the UK by the National Restaurant Awards, as well as being voted one of the UK’s Top 50 Boutique Hotels. 

As a result of working with The Cumberland, The Cottage in the Wood was empowered with the finances and expert advice to grow its capability to meet increased demand for its services and become a driving force for Cumbria’s tourism sector.

The 17th century coaching inn was bought by former teachers Kath and Liam Berney in 2002, and has since been transformed into one of Cumbria’s leading restaurants with rooms.

With Kath and Liam now looking forward to retirement, The Cottage in the Wood is now for sale on the market for £1.25 million, with its owners keen to ensure the business is passed on to those who will continue to build its reputation. 

With the restaurant holding 30-seats for diners and the hotel hosting nine rooms for guests, both Kath and Liam were keen to ensure The Cottage continued to go from strength-to-strength while it was on the market.  

Following lockdown, Kath and Liam found The Cottage was a hugely desired destination, however staff and supply shortages meant they were unable to take full advantage of their popularity.

For example, new customers to the restaurant were having to book three months in advance in certain cases, and many customers had vouchers saved from the lockdown period so while bookings were on the up, this wasn’t necessarily reflected in business cash flow.  

As a result they worked with The Cumberland Building Society to identify the issues present, with the building society providing in-depth analysis into potential solutions which would help The Cottage In The Woods take advantage of its success.

The Cumberland Building Society devised an investment package which would see them extend the term of their existing loan by 3 years, resulting in a reduction to their monthly payments of 40 percent, which freed up finances to empower The Cottage in the Wood to invest in provisions.

Additionally, The Cumberland supported The Cottage in the Wood with £50,000 which they could spend on recruiting staff, with Sam Miller joining as Head Chef in August 2022. 

Sam has an outstanding CV, having worked in some of Europe’s top restaurants, and also spent more than 5 years as Executive Sous Chef at the renowned Copenhagen restaurant, Noma, which was consistently voted the world’s best restaurant during that period.

The Cottage in the Wood is an integral part of Cumbria’s community, serving as a huge contributor to the local area’s tourism economy, but also in working in partnership with local businesses to ensure they thrive.

The venue places an onus on sourcing its produce from local suppliers, as well as putting in place initiatives which will help sustainability with the local area’s environment, such as using a natural local water source for its supply of water.

Through their partnership with The Cumberland, they have been able to expand their offering to further boost the local economy by attracting and serving new visitors, while also ensuring the business is in a strong position for any future takeover so it can continue to contribute to Cumbria.  

Kath and Liam Berney, owners, said: “When we founded The Cottage in the Wood, the guest house was run down but we knew just how much it had to offer. It’s location is simply beautiful, and we knew we had found something really special, so we wanted to place it at the heart of the local community. 

“Following the COVID-19 lockdowns, we realised that we had so much potential to further grow our offering, bring in more visitors to the area and help boost the local economy. The Cumberland were fantastic in helping us to realise this potential. 

“They sat down with us, took an in-depth look at our books, and created a plan which would help us take advantage of the huge uptake in demand we were seeing. As a result we’ve been able to expand our team, our services, and grow our suppliers to ensure we can cater to everyone.”

Ian Craig, Senior Commercial Manager at The Cumberland said: “With The Cottage in the Wood being at the heart of our local community, we are eager to see them flourish in everything that they do. 

“We were confident that we would be able to help Liam and Kath bolster their offering, and having built a strong relationship with The Cottage in the Wood over the years, were keen to do so. 

“We’re pleased to say the plan we devised with them has been able to do this. As an iconic venue in Cumbria, it means a huge amount to The Cumberland to be able to help and support them.”

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