New hope for the riverside

When the sun’s out in Ross-on-Wye, there is just nowhere better to relax than by the riverside watching the world go by – or enjoying the wildlife such as herons, egrets, mandarin ducks or kingfishers.

With the much anticipated reopening of The Hope & Anchor pub – which is only a matter of weeks away – we are all really looking forward to having this institution in Ross-on-Wye back up and running, where we can once again enjoy all day food and drink outside in the summer sun.

I was lucky to have the first show around this week to view the progress inside the old pub – and I have to say, it’s going to look absolutely amazing.

The Pavilion, next door to the pub, has been up and running for several months now and has been offering fine dining as well as afternoon teas, coffee and cake. However this is due to change once the pub reopens, so that they can concentrate on running a tight ship and ensure that each venue has its own identity and purpose.

Lee Cruickshank, Assistant General Manager of The Hope & Anchor and The Pavilion next door, described the team’s plans and what they’ve achieved to date in a really short space of time. As we chatted, the building work continued (many of the team sleep onsite due to the deadlines involved) and they have literally been working around the clock, installing new equipment including an industrial kitchen, 12 ensuite bedrooms, new furniture over the two levels and improved toilet facilities with accessibility just off the bar area (good news for anyone who remembers previously having to navigate three flights of stairs to spend a penny after at least the same number of pints).

The interior has been carefully designed and the attention to detail is phenomenal. The original features are still intact and have been sympathetically refurbished – including the old flagstones on the ground floor, the wooden canoes hanging from the ceiling next to the bar, the huge sash windows and original fireplaces. Next to the bar, the open fire awaits the installation of its new and welcoming woodburner which, for many dog walkers, was a real highlight many years ago after a muddy country walk. The pub, by the way, will still be a dog-friendly venue and Lee pointed out the brand new dog bowls ready and waiting for their thirsty furry four-legged customers.

Upstairs, I was shown around two of the new ensuite bedrooms, stylishly designed with views overlooking the gardens and river. Every last detail has been carefully thought through, from vintage style ceiling lights and wall art, to co-ordinating bed linen and accessories – the bedrooms incidentally retain their beautiful old wooden beams which are another lovely feature of the resdesign.

Moving outside to the gardens, we looked around the large wooden cabin which will eventually serve wine, lager and cider as well as afternoon tea and cakes. Next to the garden benches, the new brick pizza oven will be ready for al fresco dining, another asset to the range of meals they plan to offer. The cabin will also serve morning bacon baps and coffee for the early birds planning a sunrise walk or canoe down the river.

Other plans include live music, cocktails and a wide range of events – Lee was absolutely clear that they wanted to become a community asset that everyone can enjoy and that it won’t be solely a fine dining experience. Although The Pavilion next door will offer this, the main building will be open for pub meals and Sunday lunches with the usual range of beers, lagers, cider and wine on offer.

The team is currently planning its launch event over the Platinum Jubilee weekend next month which will naturally be cause for plenty of celebrations. In the meantime, whilst they finish off the last of the renovations, we wish Harry, Lee and the rest of the team all the very best and look forward to joining them for a much deserved drink!