The Mermaid Inn

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by The Mermaid Inn's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from The Mermaid Inn is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett, MP
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles, MP

Managing Director Judith Blincow
and Director Georgina Kite
The Elizabethan
The Mermaid Inn has been welcoming travellers for at least
600 years. The Grade II listed building was rebuilt in 1420,
after French raiders plundered and burnt the town of Rye
in June 1377, but it can trace its roots back to 1156. Managing
Director Judith Blincow has been at the hotel since 1983 and
has overseen a successful period of growth and modernisation.
Judith tells
The Parliamentary Review
how she brought about
this transition.
Over its 600 years The Mermaid Inn has been visited by many notable guests.
Reportedly both Elizabeth I and William Shakespeare visited in the 1590s, while
novelist Henry James and EF Benson, the creator of
Mapp and Lucia
, stayed here
when journeying to the literary centre of Rye.
The hotel also acted as a barracks for Canadian soldiers during the Second World
War, before the major subsequently bought the premises and ran it as a hotel from
1945 to 1953. The Canadian soldiers are reputed to have stripped the bay trees of
Rye, for their fish dishes.
Combining tradition with modernity
Our present owners have ensured through their loving stewardship that the inn
has retained all of those historic charms. They purchased the hotel in 1993, when
the parent company, Hotels of The Cinque Ports, went into receivership. We now
have 31 bedrooms, our restaurant boasts two AA Rosettes for fine dining, we have
incorporated The Tudor Room as a function room and we have reinvigorated the
Giants Fireplace Bar.
»Managing Director:
»Founded in 1420
»Based in Rye, East Sussex
»Services: Hotel, restaurant and
»No. of employees: 41
The Mermaid Inn
Highlighting best practice
A recent AA inspector reported:
“Public areas continue to offer a
strong first impression, all with tonnes
of original character and plenty of
cosy seating areas. The restaurant
remains a real destination restaurant
for the town and dinner on this
occasion was enjoyed, with great
variety on the menu and some great
combinations achieved, the award
of two AA Rosettes remains in place.
Bedrooms and bathrooms benefit from
continued investment year on year
with decor refreshed where required
and similarly soft furnishings too.
Bathrooms are being updated as and
when, with new tiling and fixtures,
which helps ensure the quality is
continually moving forward. Hospitality
and service performed well, the team
well managed and great interaction
on both arrival and during dinner from
the team. Housekeeping standards also
remain strong with a good approach
applied throughout.”
A key element of the development of
the inn has been the low turnover of
staff. We employ nearly 50 people,
the majority of whom are from Rye
and surrounding areas. Georgina Kite,
one of the owners, grew up in the
area when her father owned the inn.
The restaurant manager joined us on
work experience, and numerous other
members of staff have similar stories.
We have also invested in a local house,
which has been converted for staff
accommodation, to help young people
find a suitable living situation.
We have benefited from local
independent ownership as well. I have
worked at The Mermaid for 36 years,
and I understand the history of the
place better than most. During my
tenure I have worked hard to retain the
historic charms, which are a magnet
to visitors to Rye, and it has become
an iconic image on one of England’s
most photographed streets. It is a
family business and we strive every
day to provide a friendly and attentive
service. We have a focus on customer
service and set high standards in
the restaurant and bar, which are all
contained within a unique building
that has been carefully maintained.
Rye Hospitality Guild
Looking towards the future, we are
leading the development of the Rye
Hospitality Guild, a vehicle to encourage
local young people to take up an
apprenticeship in the hospitality industry.
The delightful setting
behind the inn
Mermaid Street, on
which the inn stands
We strive
every day to
provide a
friendly and
The guild now has 13 local hotels
and restaurants as members, offering
apprenticeships and work experience.
Links have been made with all the local
schools and colleges.
The Mermaid may be 600 years old,
but our online presence is vital for
its wellbeing going forward. The
current website was created in 2015,
but we are currently undergoing a
comprehensive redesign process.
All areas of the inn have been
photographed and the images display
the investment made in the business,
which include renewed soft furnishings,
new carpets and reinvigorated
bedrooms. We are confident that it has
never looked more resplendent. We
have also created an online persona
through the use of Facebook and
Instagram, which we utilise to share
our ongoing story, whether raising
funds for charity, participating in
local activities or revealing insight into
Ensuring our financial future
Like all businesses, we face challenges,
which include the recent increase in
business rates. The change has resulted
in rising costs, without the provision
of additional services, which places
pressure on our margins and threatens
ongoing investment.
The fall in the value of sterling since
June 2016 has also proved to be a
double-edged sword. It has definitely
led to an increase in the number
of overseas visitors, especially from
Europe, and has perhaps encouraged
more staycations and shorter visits
closer to home. There has been an
impact of rising food costs, however,
which has further stretched our
As we look to the future, we will
need to develop and hone the skills
of resilience and flexibility. We are
committed to developing the skills of
the existing staff, by placing customer
service at the heart of everything we
do. The driver is always “how to say
yes, and to never say no”. We will also
continue to encourage young people
to enter the industry, by providing
opportunities to explore hospitality as
a career route. We want to develop a
desire in young people to consider a
career in our industry, while helping
them acquire the appropriate people
skills that will benefit the business.
The Rye Hospitality Guild will play an
important role in this project, guided
by the three As – aspiration, attitude
and achievement.
A career route
for young
Dr Syn’s Bedroom
The Giant’s Fireplace Bar

This article was sponsored by The Mermaid Inn. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster