Marsden Grotto named as best 'hidden gem' in B&B awards

A South Tyneside institution has been recognised at the hospitality industry’s national awards ceremony.

Wednesday, 23rd October 2019, 12:30 pm
Updated Thursday, 24th October 2019, 10:09 am
The Grotto won in the Hidden Gem category at a national award ceremony for the hospitality industry.

South Shields bed and breakfast, The Grotto, was named North East Hidden Gem at the eviivo Awards in a swish ceremony at the Grand Connaught Rooms in London’s Covent Garden.

At the ceremony, which was attended by celebrity chef Rosemary Shrager, the Marsden venue was also nominated in the Quirkiest Place to Stay category.

Before the awards eviivo said: “Our decision will be based on a combination of indicators; performance online, guest reviews and information from the property about what makes them unique.”

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Luxury cave: a guests' bathroom at the award winning Grotto in Marsden.

The Grotto is certainly unique. It was created in 1782 by smuggler Jack Bates, aka “Jack the Blaster” and his wife Jessie.

They used explosives to blast a large cave into the the side of the cliff to create themselves a rent-free home on the beach. A lift was eventually installed into the cliff in 1952.

Today, 237 years after Jack and Jessie used their unorthodox home building methods, The Grotto is a popular bar, cafe and B & B, with guests keen to spend a night in what is a luxury cave with a fabulous view of the North Sea.

It was taken over by local couple Terry Maughan and his wife Heather in 2017. They collected the award themselves in London.

Terry said: “It was really good to receive the award and it was a fun night too.

“We took over The Grotto two-and-a-half years ago and we’ve turned it round into quite a unique 10-bedroom hotel.

“It’s good to be recognised. It’s nice to get to this stage because we had a lot of problems with planning permission and we began to wonder if it was all worth it.”

But Terry and Heather’s hard work is now paying off and they have more plans for the future of their truly unique business, using its distinctive selling points.

Terry added: “The award is good for us, but also for South Shields and we’ll be pushing to do weddings here over the next few years.”