We were out for lunch the other day at a great place called The Shibden Mill Inn, just outside Halifax in West Yorkshire and just down the road from Shibden Hall and park.
Shibden Hall, set in 37 hectares of the Shibden valley, is a six hundred year old medieval timber-framed manor house. A Grade II* Listed 15th century house is one of England’s oldest and was built in 1420, five years after the Battle of Agincourt. If you want to read more about the house and gardens the link is here.
The Mill Inn itself dates from the seventeenth century and so has been part of the local area for over 300 years. Opposite the mill is Red Beck, the stream that powered the mill once in days gone by. The website describes it perfectly; “The flow of water now adds to the inviting nature of the Inn’s outside area, a tranquil setting to enjoy dinner al fresco or a few summer drinks.” Unfortunately it was raining on this day but when the weather is good, it’s idyllic sat outside.
I was surprised how busy it was for a Monday but given it’s reputation, quality and service it probably comes as no surprise. In fact, among other accolades, it was awarded the prestigious title of Les Routiers Inn of the Year 2011. So there we were eating lunch when a member of staff came over to check if everything was ok. “It was” we said “but could we get another drink please?” “No problem” the waitress replied and then it hit. She actually meant that it was no problem. Now it wasn’t a difficult request but that didn’t matter. What she was able to convey was a genuine sense that it wasn’t a problem or nor would anything else be should I ask as a customer. It wasn’t a stock phrase she was using, it came across as it was truly meant. Then I sat back, watched and reflected on the service moments that were happening all around me and had done since we’d entered.
The service was relaxed, unhurried, friendly, genuine, attentive yet effortless and the staff displayed a sincere desire to serve and serve well. It stood out significantly compared to many of the other service experiences I’ve encountered recently. It felt as luxurious as the interior of the Mill itself. Now it could be argued for example, that the experience of buying a sandwich in an express supermarket outlet for lunch doesn’t need to be like the service at Shibden Mill because of the volume of customer, value of transaction, the smaller amount of time people spend in the outlet and that customer’s just don’t want that level of service in that situation. I disagree. Think how much better the quality of our daily lives and experiences would be if everywhere delivered Shibden Mill service. I for one would be an advocate.
And the result? A blog post and a serious recommendation if you get chance to go. Oh and the food’s great too! Here’s the link