It's hard to know where to start with the Cartford Inn.

The multiple-award-winning foody pub has the lot: a respected kitchen team creating inspiring dishes in an environment made for relaxation, knowledgeable and charming front of house staff, links with local breweries, a deli shop to take a "Taste of the Inn" home with you (along with products created by local artisans), vibrant artwork demanding your attention on every wall, and stunning views across the River Wyre as it gently flows past on its way to Fleetwood.



Thank goodness it also has some very comfy beds to lay down on so you can take it all in.

And this is what we have come to see, the pub's accommodation offer.

The inn itself has 15 boutique rooms but the latest addition to the business is two stunning studio cabins at the far end of the car park, overlooking their own private gardens and the river and fields beyond.

These were planned, designed and created by Julie and Patrick Beaume, the couple (below) who have owned and run the freehouse for just over a decade.



Julie explains that the idea originally emerged when they resurfaced the pub car park two years ago.

"It was a derelict car park with potholes," she says. "It actually used to be a helicopter pad. We used to get a few customers using it but I'd much rather have two cabins at the end of the car park."

With a budget of around £250,000 (aided by a £50,000 EU grant for rural businesses) the project took 10 months from concept to completion.



The Scandi-inspired exterior design immediately grabs you, but as we all know, it's what's inside that counts.

The pair have managed to combine the ultra-modern with the traditional in the split-level cabins. So, you have 4K TVs, wi-fi, remote-controlled blinds, along with a sound system controlled by an iPad allowing you to zone music in the lounge area, bedroom or bathroom. You also have a choice of listening to playlists, the radio, or the vinyl turntable that is also provided (with some classic LPs).

Couple this with "that view", a free-standing bath (framed by a structure made with reclaimed wood from the banks of the river), and a mini-bar packed with goodies from the deli and the pub, and you wonder whether people might struggle to walk the 100 yards to the main building.

Oh, and the studios come in two different designs, the contemporary but classic Robins or the more rock n' roll Ziggy, inspired by Julie's love of that creative trailblazer, David Bowie. There's a Bowie hologram on the wall, books, vinyl and artwork all adding to the '70s vibe.

It's one for the fans and indeed anyone who fancies a stay with a quirky touch of luxury.



"I loved him as a kid but perhaps even more so since he died, to the point that one of the cabins is now a shrine! We saw this piece of artwork in London and I thought we had to have it and that was when I thought 'one of the studio's will be a Bowie room,'" explains Julie.

So, are those creative ch-ch-changes all paying off?

The occupancy rates would suggest so, but Julie says the project was not about generating a stash of cash.

"We haven't done the rooms to make money. We've done the rooms to enhance the whole project. It finished off this wonderful property and it's added that wow factor. Within 12 months The Evening Standard did a feature on the Bowie room, which created a lot of interest and increased the audience."

Of course, when she says "finished" she doesn't really mean it. As we tour the building, she shows me how three inn bedrooms are being converted into two more spacious rooms, how she's looking at making some space for cargo containers that will be converted into artist workshops and how her bathrooms (immaculate as they are) will need to be updated again soon.

"The good thing about having the freehouse is having the freedom to be able to do that. In this business the more creative you are, the better," she adds.

A constant flow of ideas and the freedom to create... now who does that remind you of?


The Cartford Inn
Little Ecclestone, Lancashire

Rooms 15
Studio cabins 2
Occupancy rates 70-80 per cent
Wet/Dry/Rooms 28/57/15
Rates 11 x Deluxe £80- £140
          3 x Executive £90-£150
          1 x Penthouse £130-£230
          2 x Cabins £150-£250