Troubador The Reluctant Hotelkeeper

Released: 28/02/2019

ISBN: 9781789017571

eISBN: 9781789019544

Format: Paperback/eBook

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The Reluctant Hotelkeeper

A Memoir


A rescue mission originally thought of as lasting for a year or two turned into a 35 year lifetime love affair with a beautiful old building. 

There were to be battles royal with neighbours not wanting their status quo to be altered, and with the local fire authority who sought to impose draconian new safety measures. 

John Searancke came to the role of hotelkeeper almost accidentally, and most definitely with much reluctance. After his parents’ marriage fell apart, he was dragooned in, at the age of 22, to pick up the pieces of their new venture, a barely-trading country house hotel that had, frankly, seen better days. Not only was it posting an annual loss, but the fabric of the building was crumbling and there was no money left to make improvements. 

Over the years, and with the steepest of learning curves, the grand old building was renovated and transformed to meet the requirements of the modern discerning traveller. Accolades for the hotel and its restaurant were won; together they became a well-regarded destination for a number of celebrities – and those that deemed themselves to be celebrities but were not. Stories abound featuring idiosyncratic guests, overbearing public bodies, fractured family life and animals of all shapes and sizes. The local fire station next door was demolished one foggy night, people were frightened by flying dogs and snakes in the long grass, and there were, as befits a country house, strange goings on in the night. Many were the guests who checked in who really should not have been seen together. 

This is a tribute to all the people behind the scenes who helped to make the hard-won transformation into a great success.

“Reading John Searancke's superlative debut, Dog Days in The Fortunate Islands, about relocating to northern Tenerife brought back memories of my own emigration to neighbouring Gran Canaria. The only worry for John is that he risks endangering his unspoilt patch of Tenerife by being so effusive in his praise. Readers won't be able to help but follow his lead." Matthew Hirtes, author, Going Local in Gran Canaria: How to Turn a Holiday Destination into a Home

“A wry tale of discovery in retirement, plus a whole bunch of Spain and Tenerife travel capers thrown in to boot!!” Joe Cawley, author of Kindle bestseller, More Ketchup than Salsa: Confessions of a Tenerife Barman.

“I've read countless examples of 'let's move to a sunnier climate' memoirs, and it's a very variable genre. But John Searancke can write - he's a restaurant reviewer - so this one is a cut above.

And his move from England was carefully-planned, not a mid-winter whim. He's a colourful character, and knows how to tell a good tale. A lively read if you'd like to know more about Tenerife, or if you enjoy non-fiction that spans history, culture, and a realistic look at the ups and downs of a later-life move to the Canaries - the 'Fortunate Islands' of the title.”
- Elaine Scanlan, travel writer.

The Reluctant Hotelkeeper by John Searancke is an engaging memoir that takes readers into the life of the author who ended up reluctantly being a hotelkeeper, and how his rescue mission ended up being a love affair with an old building. His parents had bought the place in the countryside to save their crumbling marriage, and the author was pulled into this venture when he was just 22. The role of a hotelkeeper is not as easy as many think because the reality of life in a hotel is very different, and the hours required to make it a success are punishing. The memoir is also a tribute to all the people who worked behind the scenes and helped in making this grand transformation a huge success.

The memoir is straightforward and honest, entertaining and insightful, and the author opens up about the difficulties he faced, and how he managed to keep his faith in long-term planning. There are a lot of interesting stories about eccentric guests, how many guests who checked in should not have been seen together at all, and how it ended up being one of the favored stops for a number of celebrities. The author goes through the entire process, speaking about transforming the hotel methodically and in detail, taking readers along with him and his experiences while getting the old building renovated to cater to the needs of a modern traveler. There is not one boring moment in this memoir and the positive narration and outlook make this memoir an encouraging and motivating read. The author's story and experiences are enriching, and the ups and downs of his life and the accolades he received for the hotel and its restaurant will encourage many readers out there to become hotelkeepers.

by Reviewed By Mamta Madhavan for Readers’ Favorite

Marvellous, what a great book!

What a delightful cover! On seeing that, I just couldn't resist this book. On further investigation, the contents were amazing too. There's a lovely map of the village at the front, beautiful presentation. This is a prequel to his memoir 'Dog Days in the Fortunate Islands', but it’s not necessary to have read any of his other books first, you can still enjoy this one just the same.

This was not a short-lived thing; he had been in this business for over 35 years. The book starts where they have sold their country hotel and the new owners are now in. Then he's looking back on those years in the hotel business. Also, childhood memories-school, holidays in the Isle of Man etc.

It was a fabulously fun book. And what a hoot, a fair few chucklesome passages in here! I just seemed to keep laughing at his misfortunes! Uh oh! The things that can happen in a hotel. I love 'behind the scenes' memoirs like this! A bit of celeb gossip-without naming any names..... Beautifully English expressions. Some great word choices, it seemed like so much thought has gone into this to keep it fresh and entertaining. Or I imagine that's how he talks all the time. An experienced speaker maybe? Beautifully written. A total delight.

I finished John Searancke's book in just a day and a half and it was fantastic. He is responsible for serious lack of any sort of housework by me over the weekend-I just had to keep on reading! I've read and really enjoyed both of John Searancke's previous books. I knew this would be good-but I didn't realise just how good it was going to be! It's marvellous, what a great book.

by Julie Haigh

Author John Searancke was in his 20s in the 1960s when his parents bought a hotel, in an odd effort to save their shaky marriage. It didn't work and they had no idea how to run a hotel. Hence, they called their son. Mr. Searancke knew nothing about being a hotelkeeper, either, but he didn't like his job, so off he went on an adventure that lasted 35 years. While much of what he discusses about getting an old hotel back into good working order, with a good restaurant, could fairly be described by some as mundane, I was never bored reading this memoir. The author made it all sound interesting, and too soon I found myself at the end of the story, sad that it was all over.

by Sunday

Faced with helping to run the hotel his parents owned after his dad left, Searanke ran the hotel for 35 years until his retirement. Reluctant to undertake the job, and learning by doing, he gradually built up the place, improved it, and gave it a well-regarded reputation.

The book is full of delightful anecdotes and portraits of the hotel, its staff and suppliers, and it clients.

by Janet

This delightful book tells the true story of John Searancke who takes a ramshackle building and turns it into a quite grand English country inn. It’s an inside look at the very stressful job of running a hotel, replete with stories of staff, local neighbors, purveyors of goods, and the guests that makes for a very good read. There were times that I truly felt the sensation of tearing one’s hair out, as the author surely did, in some of the more unusual encounters he had over the 35 or so years that he managed this hotel. His sheer joy at creating what sounds like a delightful spot, alas, one that no longer exists, weaves throughout this enticing tale.

by Susan

A wonderful read when John Searanckes parents give him the orders to run this rambling hotel John in his twenties had no idea that restoring and running this hotel would take over his life.Full of charming anecdotes characters I completely enjoyed this look at the job of running his families hotel.A truly delightful book highly recommend

by Abby

Along with an idyllic cover, the story of a reluctant hotelkeeper who was forced into this occupation is a good one. Factual, hilarious and very matter of fact humour. Very tongue in the cheek humour very typical of a British attitude (I think). The British seem to excel at this.

Told over a span of several decades, inheriting a hotel which was run down, in a shambles, no known systems, the owners (his parents) not interested at all in its functioning and definitely in the red. How through sheer hard work and a few dashes of good luck and good timing, he turned the hotel into a star winning, accolade winning enterprise is a good story.

Handling staff, plumbing and electrical systems almost at the end of their natural life, dealing with irritating and interesting guests in equal measure kept the book alive throughout.

by Mystica

What else do you do on a cold and wet day, but read. In 24 hours I had finished this book.
A beautifully written memoir, starting on the day the author drove out of the hotel gates for the last time.

The book chronicles how as he took on the reins of running a business, all that he had to deal with. From planning regulations on a listed building, to locals who didn't like him to succeed or outwit them.
At times he must have had the patience of a saint to deal with rude guests and pilfering staff. The language was almost old fashioned in places, a motor car horn!

by Rosalind

What a charming little memoir about the author's time as a hotelkeeper in the English countryside. The short snippets of daily life running a hotel almost made me want to run to the nearest hotel for sale and snatch it up! Almost... He shares the bad along with the good here and from the sounds of it, hotel running isn't for the faint of heart! I recommend this for those who like to walk in the shoes of others, if only for a brief moment.

by Taylor

A very enjoyable and pleasant read!

The author was the "reluctant" keeper of a hotel in rural England. As a young man, he was rather coerced by his parents into working at their business, a rundown hotel that they had bought. He ended up working there for 35 years!

The author, over a long period of time, rehabbed the shabby old building into an award winning destination spot.

The book is an engaging chronicle of all the missteps, successes, and strange occurrences he went through.

I loved the author's dry, English wit. And his ability to laugh at himself. The stories he tells of odd guests were the funniest. And it is so unlike the standard, cliche volumes of "we bought a ruined house/winery/mansion in Europe" books that are flooding the markets today. This one will keep your attention.

If you are looking for a fun read, this could be a good book to try!

by Randal

A rather delightful account of the trials and tribulations of the author, John Searancke, as he strives to rescue a country house hotel and bring it back to life once again. As the title implies, it was with some considerable reluctance that he initially took this project on - but take it he did and turned the project into a success. Interesting, nicely told and full of humour - this is a very enjoyable read and a great diversion should you have any projects of your own that you would prefer to avoid! Furthermore - what an utterly delightful cover!

by Ruth

This was a very fun and informative book about the ups and downs of running a country hotel.
The author originally went to help his parents at age 22. Their marriage was falling apart and their new venture, the hotel had become overwhelming.

He had to learn the business fast in order to keep the place going. This turned from what should have been a two year stint into 35 years ,all for the love of this old building, which he transformed into a very sought after place to stay.

I loved all of the stories he told about the people and pets that stayed there and the many learning curves he had to take, finding the right employees, and anyone else that was needed to run this place. It was fun to hear about the interactions with the people of the village, who would give him a hard time about a lot of things.

This is well worth reading, so much fun, and very well written.

I have read one other book by this author, Dog Days In The Fortunate Islands, which I loved and I have one more of his that I have not read yet.

by Alison

A fun, engaging, entertaining memoir of a hotelkeeper.

Many thanks to NetGalley, the author, and the publisher for my ARC. All opinions are my own.

by Amanda

I do not usually read memoirs, but found this book intriguing so I decided to read it. And boy am I glad I did - this was a superb book.

This is the third book by author J Searanke and it is a memoir of his 35 years helping run the hotel until his retirement. It was a very enjoyable book The descriptions were so vivid all you had to do was close your eyes as imagine them happening right before your eyes. I could just see myself enjoying a summer afternoon looking back at the splendor before me and thinking I was right there alongside Searanke as the renovations were taking place.

by Ily

I am always ready for a good memoir set in a time and place that I am very unfamiliar with. I have read only a few but I end up enjoying almost all of them. This was one such story. The author chronicles his time as a hotelkeeper/owner/sometimes chef, which although began as a forced decision ended up being something that became an inherent part of him.

The stories were all scattered over the timeline that the author ran that hotel and his learning curve, they are grouped together by incidents and move forward and backward in time. This latter aspect threw me off a little because I found it hard to keep my mind on the progression of the people in the story. I would have enjoyed it more if it had been chronological first and then incidents could have been narrated, but that is only a personal preference! The writing style is simple, to the point while maintaining the emotion behind the tale.

This narrative spans more than two decades of the author and the times change around him as he keeps his hotel afloat and improving with the times. Some of the anecdotes were funnier than others but for the most part they were very informative and interesting. It is set in rural England and gives a window into lifestyles of people that I do not think I would ever be actually crossing paths with in real life, which is the bonus. I highly recommend this to readers of non-fiction who are looking for a lighter look into this lifestyle.

by Anjana

What a fantastic book! The book begins when the author has just sold-and handed over to the new owners-the hotel he has run for 35 years. Searancke then looks back at the not-so-easy road that led him to run his own hotel. Told in humorous vignettes, readers will enjoy this vicarious journey to hotelkeeping.

by Jeimy

John Searancke

John Searancke is restaurant reviewer for the Tenerife newspaper Island Connections. Born in 1943 at Derby Royal Infirmary, a war baby, he lived his early life in Ashby-de la-Zouch and was sent away to be educated at Kings Mead Preparatory School, Seaford and afterwards at Rugby School. Later commissioned into the Territorial Army, he has been variously an hotel and restaurant owner, director and chairman of a marketing consortium, and latterly a partner with his wife in a commercial legal services company. He has enjoyed working in England and Switzerland, and spends time between visiting family in England, and northern Tenerife where he now lives with his wife, Sally, and their beloved dog, Freddie.


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