Raven Hall Hotel: Couples left in the dark after Yorkshire coast hotel is taken over by new owners with wedding bookings uncertain ahead of refurbishment work

Couples who have booked weddings at a country house hotel on the Yorkshire coast are now uncertain whether their ceremonies are going ahead after the business was taken over by new owners.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Newcastle-based Apartment Group confirmed last month that they had bought the Raven Hall Hotel in Ravenscar, between Scarborough and Whitby, and will rebrand the site as a wedding venue called ‘Grand Villa Heights’.

The mansion was built in 1774 for the owner of the local alum works on the site of a Roman fort, and was a Victorian gentleman’s residence until 1895, when it opened as a hotel as part of an ultimately doomed plan to turn the village of Ravenscar into a high-class resort town to rival Scarborough.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

The new owners have released artist’s impressions of the new function room that will open after major refurbishment work, but many of those with wedding bookings have criticised Apartment Group for completely transforming the appearance of the chapel that they had chosen.

Raven Hall Hotel overlooks Robin Hood's BayRaven Hall Hotel overlooks Robin Hood's Bay
Raven Hall Hotel overlooks Robin Hood's Bay

Couples say they fear their ceremonies could be disrupted by building work and many have struggled to get a response from Raven Hall when they contacted them for reassurance about whether their weddings would even go ahead.

Apartment Group have set up new social media accounts for Grand Villa Heights, describing it as a ‘personal paradise inspired by dream destinations afar’. They are promoting wedding packages with discounts of up to 75 per cent and savings of £10,000.

Raven Hall will be under its new management from April, with an expected completion date for the refurbishment said to be in the autumn.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

One bride, Michelle Thomas, said: “Will the venue be finished by autumn? I get married here in June this year and have emailed and rung people and no one’s telling me anything. I’ve been so stressed trying to get in touch with the hotel, sick of ringing and emailing.

Raven Hall was a gentleman's residence before opening as a hotel in 1895Raven Hall was a gentleman's residence before opening as a hotel in 1895
Raven Hall was a gentleman's residence before opening as a hotel in 1895

Another, Sophie Pollard, said: “When you're spending thousands, they've not dealt with it very well. They had an open day on January 27 and apparently didn't even email people about it. I really hope we can have the ceremony in the existing room.”

A third bride, Zoe Salmons, commented: “We’re getting married here in April. Really don’t like the name change and really hope you’re not changing our venue.”

Miss Pollard, from Leeds, added: “Our wedding is in June. Last week we received an email from the hotel to say that the name was changing to 'Grand Villa Heights' and they would have new owners from April. We've since discovered on social media that their plans are to completely refurbish the hotel. This means that for our wedding the hotel will either be a building site or completely different to what we were expecting. This will affect hundreds of couples.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

“I had initial reassurance from the new owners via phone that the wedding would still go ahead but I've asked for this in writing and I've not had any response.

“They are now ignoring emails and phone calls, putting couples in distress with no idea if their weddings are still going ahead.

"The old ceremony room was stunning and in keeping with the building. The proposed changes to it are atrocious.

“We cannot cancel our wedding due to family travelling from Australia, deposits having been paid to suppliers and non-refundable guest accommodation bookings in the surrounding areas.”

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Others commented that the name Grand Villa Heights ‘does not suit the building or area’.

Apartment Group owns a number of other hotels and leisure venues in Newcastle, County Durham and Northumberland. They did not respond to a request for comment from The Yorkshire Post.

The estate certainly has an illustrious history. After alum works owner Captain William Childs died in 1829, it passed to his daughter, but she and her son, an eccentric ‘quack’ doctor, squandered the inherited fortune. The son used explosives to blow up the cliffs to create the hanging terraced gardens and battlements, and he even added a ‘smugglers’ cave’ from where signals to vessels out to sea could be sent.

Raven Hall returned to respectability in 1845, when railway entrepreneur William Hammond bought the property from the debt-ridden Willis family.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

He was heavily involved in village life, building the church and windmill and promoting the Scarborough to Whitby railway line, with a station in Ravenscar.

His four daughters sold the house to the Peak Estate Company for development as a holiday resort, and three years after the hotel opened, the golf links, Victorian square and tearooms were all laid out.

In 1911 the company went bankrupt and much of the land was sold at auction. During the war, Raven Hall was requisitioned as a military billet.

In 2004, the Chelsea squad and manager Claudio Ranieri stayed at Raven Hall when they were drawn to face Scarborough in the fourth round of the FA Cup. The non-league side only lost 0-1, and John Terry, Frank Lampard, Joe Cole and Nicolas Anelka all played.

Related topics: