THIS top hotel took centre stage on a popular TV show.
Hotelier James Reay has been taking part in Channel 4’s Four in a Bed with three other bed and breakfast owners from around the country.
James and his partner Simon Dooley, joint owners, with Karen Carey, of The Winterbourne on Clarendon Road, North Shore, believed their chances of winning the contest were high, thanks to the one-of-a-kind theatre installed in their property.
The unique addition was put in to boost trade.
James, 45, said: “It’s something we decided to put in because we needed to be different.
“We basically had a void space, so we built a theatre, complete with wings and a curtain, lighting and effects which we built between the three of us.
“We put high-standard shows on, not just a cabaret artist singing away.”
And while he is keeping tight-lipped on who was crowned winner of the show, which airs next week, he says it was quite an experience.
James said: “We’ve never worked so hard in our lives. We were doing 17-hour days of filming for a half-an-hour show. It was very interesting, and it was an amazing experience.
“The cameras were there from the moment we woke up to the minute we went to bed, and we had chaperones who made sure we didn’t talk to the other contestants about our hotel.
“Two of the couples were absolutely gorgeous, one couple were absolute snobs.”
James, who lives at the bed and breakfast, said one of the interesting things about the programme was that the contestants had to pay for their nights away, in Cheshire, Hastings and Kent.
And one of the hotels was charging £195 a night.
While James said he hadn’t seen any of the footage for the show, he did catch a glimpse of the filming of the theatre, and he was impressed by what he saw.
“It looks amazing,” he said.
“I am very proud of what we have accomplished. Two years ago the hotel was going to close, but when we came in, between the three of us it slowly got back to life. We’ve still got a long way to go, but every spare penny we have goes back into the business.
“It’s been a steep learning curve, and we’ve worked our fingers to the bone, but it’s an amazing story of how the three of us have come together and worked so hard for this one goal.”
James said the hotel was sent an email from Channel 4 asking the managers if they wanted to take part in the programme.
The hotel’s stint on Four in a Bed starts on January 28.