Wales' Premier Independent Travel Magazine

My Travel Life: Lionel Chatard Of Middlethorpe Hall

Lionel Chatard is the Director & General Manager of Middlethorpe Hall in York, one of three Historic House Hotels part of the National Trust. The hotel is home to an award-winning restaurant and spa.
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How long have you been in the travel industry and how long have you worked in hotels specifically?
I have spent my entire professional life working in hotels, between Switzerland, France and the UK – some may describe me as a seasoned hotelier – but hospitality is my passion!

What are your favourite destinations abroad and do you have a memorable hotel you would always recommend abroad?
When choosing a destination abroad, I indulge myself by reserving a stay at historically interesting, possibly ‘old fashioned’ and certainly characterful hotels such as the Winter Palace in Luxor, the Pera Palace in Istanbul or, of course being a proud French man, the Hotel Les Cygnes in Evian-les-Bains.

Aside from York, where in the UK do you love to travel to and why?
I spend much of my free time exploring different parts of Yorkshire, and there are many other beautiful destinations to travel to in North Wales, the Lake District and the Scottish Highlands. I enjoy the fresh air, breath-taking scenery, locally sourced seasonal food and friendship – I have simple taste. I could also be tempted to discover Cornwall and Devon soon.

You must see guests arriving with huge bags for a night stay, do you pack easily, any tips?

I always pack last-minute and focus more on my running/trail gear than on the rest of my clothes. My packing tips: just chuck-it in, you’ll find out what’s missing later on! One will find shops for emergency supplies at most destinations!

What do you most enjoy about travelling?
As for many, travelling for me is about discovering different cultures, meeting people and learning about local history and architecture. But I also always include a trail run in the countryside or a city discovery run, that can be proudly displayed on Strava to evoke envy for my running friends!

Which destination is on your bucket list?
My first trip post Covid-19 will be to get a little winter warmth and sunshine and some rejuvenation. A stay at Le Jardin des Douars in Essaouira (Morocco) will be my special treat.

Covid affected the travel industry like never before. Are you seeing a return to pre pandemic levels of travel?
Middlethorpe Hall has done satisfactorily between the lockdowns. This is due to our caring approach to hotel keeping, its ‘oasis like’ location within 20 acres of gardens, only a short walk from the centre of the historic city and the ideal gateway to the Yorkshire Dales, the North York Moors and the Yorkshire Coast. A safe haven in worrying times.

We are now seeing a surge in foreign reservations for the summer season, so the forecast is positive medium term.

How do you think the travel industry will recover in the long term from both Covid and Brexit?
I’d rather not mention the B word. With so many resilient and passionate people working in the industry, we will succeed by working together and supporting each other – recovery is on its way.

Do you have any recommendations on a book that inspires travel?

The Pilgrimage, by Paulo Coelho for inspiration. Epic Runs of the World (Lonely Planet) for the challenges or dreams.

Finally, what are your must visit, must see places in Yorkshire for visitors aside from staying at and dining at Middlethorpe Hall?
We are blessed with amazing scenery in Yorkshire and I would recommend a circular walk (or trail run) between Ravenscar and Robin Hoods Bay, around Fountains Abbey and Studley Royal or around the Castle Howard Estate.

Middlethorpe Hall & Spa
Bishopthorpe Road
YO23 2GB

01904 641241

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