A landmark seafront South Tyneside pub now has rooms with sea views - after opening as a hotel through a £500,000 investment.
Bosses at the Marsden Grotto say they are thrilled to have added high-quality accommodation to the outlet’s long-established pub and restaurant.
The first four of 10 planned rooms were due to open to guests today in what they hope will bring an added boom to businesses.
A fifth is expected to open by the weekend, with five more being ready by around the turn of the year.
Within minutes of being advertised online yesterday, bookings were already being taken.
Guests can relax in rooms named Salty Kisses, Sandy Toes, Pebbles and even Dolly’s Den, which range from twin to family sized.
When finished, nine suites will have stunning views over Marsden Beach and of Marsden Rock.
The tenth will be enclosed on all sides by the rock into which Marsden Grotto is cut.
The Coast Road venue’s redevelopment stared in January when workmen moved in to remodel its then vacant first floor.
Owner Terry Maughan described the hotel section as an excellent addition to the Grotto’s traditional food and drinks offer.
Mr Maughan, 50, who bought the business at Easter 2017, said: “It’s great to be finally open for business.
“This is a project in which I have invested a significant amount of money but one I know will bring rewards to South Tyneside.
“The Grotto is a very well-known landmark, recognised for its incredible location and quality offer.
“We have now made it that bit better by adding quality hotel accommodation to it.
“I’m delighted with the progress we have made in getting the first phase rooms ready on time and I’m looking forward to seeing the overall project completed.”
The hotel will be managed by Will Smith, 37, who currently runs the Grotto’s bar and restaurant.
Mr Maughan runs the Grotto through his Northumberland Castle and Country Lodgings Ltd company.
Phil Steel, 30, his area manager, said: “Adding hotel accommodation to the Grotto is a significant development in its long history.
“Everyone involved in this project is very exciting by what we have done, we think it will prove very popular.”
The renovation project went ahead despite initial concerns by South Tyneside Council.
Planners were worried about the possible impact of building work at the environmentally sensitive location.
The Grotto sits within the Durham Coast Special Area of Conservation and the Durham Coast Site of Special Scientific Interest.
It is also close to designated sites of importance, including the Northumberland Coast Special Area of Protection, the Leas, Marsden Lime Kilns, and Lizard Lane Cutting.