• A new boutique-lodge hotel’s Asian nod in Cumbria

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    The Black Bull is a family owned boutique hotel in Cumbria in the Yorkshire Dales with a Japanese twist. Talk about an unmatched hotel concept…

    Hospitality runs through the blood of James Ratcliffe and Nina Matsunaga who as well as owning The Black Bull in addition to the successful Three Hares in Sedbergh. The property has been renovated with the task to build on the inn’s storied history and connection to the local landscapes by using local materials and crafts to create a hotel, a restaurant and a bar. Somewhat of a USP for the hotel competing with others in the Dales, Nina’s Japanese background was an integral component of the project. As a result, Patrick Thomas, the founder of Up North Architects, used the five elements, clean lines and neutral tones to link everything back to Japan’s strong design and culture.

    modern stylish room

    The hotel has 18 elegant guestrooms, none of which are the same in regards to their size sizes and their décor, each named after a local fell. The luxe bathrooms come complete with large rain showers, large standalone baths and even Japanese tubs as well as bespoke furniture using local materials, hand-woven blankets made with Howgill Fells wool.

    The restaurant has been designed so that guests can find a cosy and warm environment thanks to the wooden panels created with the reclaimed wooden floors from the old bedrooms, the stunning landscapes pictures by Rob Withrow and a great triptych hand screen printed mirror by Phil Constable. Japanese elements also appear with the use of slate and suspended plants.


    The Black Bull’s bar is the appropriate social hub. The actual bar is bespoke and sits at the entrance to welcome guests. A warm stylish bar with fireplaces, cosy booth sitting with comfortable red leather seats is the perfect setting for locals and guests alike to enjoy pints of local craft beers from the Cumbrian Fells’ brewery or wines from the hand selected list made by James and eat simple and hearty dishes such as pork scratchings or Venison with chocolate pie with red cabbage and chips.

    All image credits: Rob Whitrow

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  • AUTHOR

    Hamish Kilburn

    All stories by: Hamish Kilburn