Opinion divided over names planned for hotel and restaurant

Opinion is divided over the proposed names of a boutique hotel and restaurant, which are set to open in Alnwick's former convent.

Thursday, 27th July 2017, 12:00 pm
Updated Monday, 11th September 2017, 11:09 am
The former convent in Alnwick. Picture by Jane Coltman

Earlier this month, the Gazette reported that Debbie Cook is behind the major renovation plans at the former St Mary’s Convent, on Bailiffgate.

She intends to call the 11-bedroom hotel The Cookie Jar, while the restaurant was set to be named The Holy Cow.

Debbie Cook outside what will be the Cookie Jar Hotel in Bailiffgate, Alnwick. Picture by Jane Coltman

Many have spoken in favour of the development, which will create jobs, but the names have received mixed reviews, with critics branding them incentive and ridiculous.

However, Debbie says she never meant to offend and The Cookie Jar was a nod to her surname. However, she has conceded that she may rethink The Holy Cow.

Among the critics, Lawrence Collins, from Alnwick, wrote to the Gazette to say he was ‘appalled by the thoughtless insensitivity of the names’, describing them as ridiculous and offensive.

On Facebook, Carole Moyes said The Cookie Jar is ‘totally inappropriate’ and ‘should be more in keeping with its former use’, while Elliott Susan said the names were ‘a lack of respect for the building’s history’. Not everyone agreed though. Kirsty Hodgson said she loved The Cookie Jar, while Paul Yeadon described it as a great name.

Debbie Cook outside what will be the Cookie Jar Hotel in Bailiffgate, Alnwick. Picture by Jane Coltman

Debbie said: “My husband is well known in the UK hotel business. Over the years, he has converted prisons, churches, breweries and historic warehouses into hotels – they all became Malmaisons and Hotel du Vins. The Cookie Jar is about us, our name and our beliefs in hospitality. We believe the property will be full of tasteful goodies, just like a cookie jar.

“Holy Cow, which, admittedly we are reconsidering, came from a respectful nod to the convent, but also to indicate that it is a steak-led restaurant, from Northumberland cattle, married with the best of seafood from our shores.

“We are serious about quality, service and creating a difference – tongue–in–cheek humour perhaps, but not causing offence. Upsetting people was never the intention.

“We want to create something that Alnwick will be proud of; let the product and the service be judged. We feel it is the preservation of the building in its environment that is important, respecting the heritage and the architecture of this beautiful street.”

The hotel is set to open in September, followed by the restaurant in spring 2018.