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A Modern Christmas Carol From Anne Way

A Modern Christmas Carol From Anne Way
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‘Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat..’

This first line of the old English folk song is one that most people of my age remember from our childhood. These days when I hear it I think of the year we allowed an over ambitious Head Chef to insist on serving Roast Goose to all our Christmas Day diners with no option of Turkey for their traditional Christmas Day Lunch – this decision was made in spite of our frantic protests that this was a mistake, but chef was insistent that he knew best what people wanted to eat.  The resultant furore of displeasure from our customers will be remembered by everyone who was unfortunate enough to be serving and hosting the Christmas Day festivities that year and taught us a valuable lesson! – I haven’t felt the same about eating Roast Goose ever since!

‘Please put a penny in the old man’s hat’

The bit about the ‘penny in the old man’s hat’ makes me think about how sad it is that Christmas these days must be the worse time of the year for anyone who is hard up and struggling for money – these days they are maybe not old men but struggling parents with children who watch TV and subsequently view Christmas as a time of exciting activity and lavish present giving and innocently send Santa a very long list of expensive requests.

‘Deck the halls with boughs of holly’

I don’t know what a ‘traditional Christmas’ really means but we are not offering much in the way of ‘exciting activity’ to our Christmas guests and definitely not Roast Goose for Christmas Day lunch this year.  Several days however have been happily spent decorating the Luttrell Arms in a ‘non minimalist’ way – we have hundreds of decorations collected over many years and we have managed to use most of them  this year and the hotel has a very festive look already with still more to come as Christmas week approaches.  We started to get the decorations our early this year – Monday 29th November -  I had a variety of feedback from our customers – some people were horrified that it was ‘far to early’ to think about Christmas and others were excited and thrilled that the hotel was beginning to look festive whilst they were staying with is.

‘Fast away, the old year passes’

Christmas decorations are an ongoing process and it looks likely that we will still adding finishing touches to on Christmas Eve which some people think it the correct time to ‘deck the halls’.  I always feel that this time of the year when the fires are roaring and candles lit, the salon offering a relaxing massage, relaxed chat in the bar over a drink, and chef preparing some warming seasonal food, the hotel is at its best and one can really appreciate the cosy atmosphere, especially after venturing outdoors exploring Exmoor, walking, or perhaps deer spotting and experiencing Exmoor in winter when at its wildest and most spectacular.  

‘Tis the season to be jolly’

I don’t know how ‘jolly’ we are going to be allowed to be now due to the restrictions that are being reintroduced following the most recent Covid developments, but here at the Luttrell Arms, we are remaining optimistic whilst at the same time as being cautious and very aware of the huge responsibility that we have to our guests and staff whilst in our care.  We have retained many of the precautionary measures that we had in place with the cleaning and sanitising procedures remaining a priority and most precautionary things that were advised to adopt now being accepted as a routine and common sense way of life.  Thankfully some of the less sensible or effective measures have not been imposed on us again – the responsibility of making sure everyone either left the premises or ‘went to bed’ at 10pm was an example of something that was especially challenging – there was an occasion when a regular guest joking referred to me as ‘matron’ as he teasingly remarked that he had not be told to ‘go to his room’ since his boarding school days! 

'Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la!'

I think many lessons have been learnt and life will never be quite the same again after this pandemic and the chaos it has caused to our economy and daily lives.  We have received a few cancellations from guests who are reluctant to travel away from home now that the situation has worsened but most people now feel that ‘life must go on’ – we have all lost a considerable amount of precious prime time and the risks have reduced now that most of us are ‘double jabbed’ and ‘boosted’ and everyone is familiar with the sensible precautions that we can take to protect ourselves and others without much effort.  I have to say I have begun to feel quite ‘undressed’ without a mask in a shop although I confess to often having to be reminded when I am inside the hotel which always feels like being ‘at home’.

‘See the blazing yule before us’

This next line of this seasonal song reminds me to tell you that we are taking a huge risk and deciding to break with the ancient tradition of burning the Ashen Faggot on Christmas Eve in the fireplace in the bar this year – this tradition is centuries old and there are dire consequences threatened to those breaking with the rather sinister operation – although Nigel thinks it was a marketing ploy dreamed up by Trust House Forte in the 1960s! I am quite superstitious by nature and am very worried about this decision, but Becca is insistent that having had chimney fires on several occasions and having to evacuate the building is a nuisance to our resident guests as well as an unnecessary fire risk that the insurance company with no longer tolerate and this together with the social distancing risks of a bar crammed with onlookers makes the whole procedure an unacceptable option. 

'Joy to the world'

Nigel is enjoying his semi-retired status and although still fully involved in both our hotels he has found the time to volunteer as a NHS steward and will be joining the local team at the weekend to help with Booster jabs – he is looking forward to being ‘useful’ – not giving injections to anyone thankfully but directing traffic etc!...

This past year has been very challenging for everyone and it looks like the problems with continue for some time.  At both hotels we still have some staff shortages but have succeeded in recruitment and made some great new additions to our teams and we have had huge support from our customers and friends who have been absolutely fantastic and make it all worthwhile for us.

'We wish you a merry Christmas’

Merry Christmas and Happy and Healthy New Year – I know it is still early December as I write this, but by the time this communication reaches you – (having been checked and scrutinised by others in the family and team and eventually made it to the internet!) it will hopefully be on time!

We look forward to welcoming you to Exmoor very soon

With very best wishes,

Anne Way and family

What our guests say...

Quirky in the right sense

Lovely clean room and bathroom. Super public rooms and spaces with fires. Quirky in the right sense and not as a euphemism for inconvenient. Great location for walking and touring. Wonderful food both breakfasts and evening meals. We felt thoroughly pampered...
Sarah P

The staff really go the extra mile

We’ve been staying here on and off for over 18 years and it just keeps getting better. Fantastic location for Exmoor, the west Somerset coast and Dunster. The staff really go the extra mile and are superb, the rooms are original and comfortable and the food is good. Lots of different public rooms to explore and relax in, two bars both with open log fires plus lots of character plus lovely gardens...
James F

Helpful Staff

Great hotel and location. The food was very good particularly the breakfast. The staff were very helpful especially when we had to amend the booking. Dunster castle was within walking distance and along with the mill is worth a visit....

A perfect lunch

We stayed here earlier in the year and returned just for lunch today.We weren’t disappointed. My wife had the roast beef and I chose the seafood chowder. Though quite different both of these meals were delicious.A beautiful location, friendly service and great food! What more could you ask for?...

Happy Hotel

I rarely feel compelled to give reviews, but this hotel is worth one. It occupies a charming old building of great character with a good garden. In keeping with its age, it has stairs but no lift. The bedrooms are clean, bright and with good modern accommodation. The dining room is very attractive, and the restaurant menu is excellent. The staff are competent, friendly and helpful. It is a happy hotel...
Mr Fletcher

Amazing staff

My wife and I stayed two nights recently here with our young son to attend a wedding in the village...the hotel was very busy throughout the weekend due to the annual music festival, and yet all the hotel staff went out of their way to make us feel so welcome....

The hotel is a gem

My wife and I booked in for a birthday trip in November. Dunster is a charming small town / village destination with a great castle. We stayed for two nights with dinner on one night and afternoon tea on the second. The hotel is a gem, with lovely old bars and lounges plus a main bar very popular with the locals-four real ales and a selection of ciders and lagers. Staff were excellent. Dinner was ...
Peter T

Pulled out all of the stops

My Partner and I had a really great stay with the dog. Nothing was too much trouble for the staff. They really pulled out all of the stops to ensure a carefree stay with the dog. We found the whole set up and inclusive treatment for dog owners to extremely well done and a real home from home with all the old world charm of a historic building in a historic and idyllic country setting. We will definitely...
Andrew W

Terrific hotel, great gardens

Loved this hotel. Lots of nooks and crannies. Nice welcoming bar, would be very nice in the winter if imagine, because there is a grand, big fire place. Garden is beautiful, great to relax in on a summer day. Highly recommend although a Little expensive, but worth it for a treat....

Our favourite hotel

We had such a lovely time at this hotel. 2nd visit and we shall definitely return. Everything is just so. Hotel rooms, service, staff is just lovely and food delicious. We couldn't fault it at all. The main bar area just makes you feel like you want to spend the rest of your day sitting by the fireplace sipping on your drink and reading the paper. Our favourite hotel and we would highly recommend ...
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