£250,000 refresh as Strathearn Hotel in Kirkcaldy taps into its rich history

The wraps have come off a £250,000 ‘refresh’ at one of Kirkcaldy’s landmark hotels with more than a nod to its rich history as it unveils a new look and plans to develop the business in 2024.
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Graeme and Loraine Mitchell have owned the venue for the past seven years and are now at its helm. Over the past few months they have started the work to restore the hotel top its former glory. The changes include a new kitchen and reception area, significant work to the roof of the building which dates back to the 1880s, a new reception, and new furniture throughout. Even the crockery and glasses are all new. Better weather projects include a beer garden and designated smoking area, and new disabled access as well as a revamp of the car park.

And, as well as looking ahead, the owners, are celebrating its rich history with maps and photographs which chart its past. A portrait of James Wishart, the man whose house it once was, is on the list of additions for this year.

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The industrialist and philanthropist built the villa which is now the Strathearn. He was a partner in Ireland & Wishart, linen and woolen manufacturers, one of the many parts of Kirkcaldy’s industrial heritage which has long since disappeared from the landscape.

Graeme and Loraine Mitchell have unveiled their refresh at the Strathearn Hotel (Pics: Fife Photo Agency)Graeme and Loraine Mitchell have unveiled their refresh at the Strathearn Hotel (Pics: Fife Photo Agency)
Graeme and Loraine Mitchell have unveiled their refresh at the Strathearn Hotel (Pics: Fife Photo Agency)

He was active in public life as a JP and councillor, and a memorial to him can be found at Pathhead Church. It was said of Mr Wishart that “he had no side and would talk with as much gusto, animation and pleasure for an hour of end to the man in corduroys as to the gentleman in broadcloth.”

His family villa was converted to a hotel between 1936 and 1945, and it has hosted many functions, family events and celebrations over several generations.

It has been operated by Graeme’s company, the Coolforce Group, for the past seven years, bringing to an end a two-year closure after the previous owners departed.

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“It is such a beautiful building,” said Graeme. “It has so much history - people who come here have had so many attachments to it over many years; they got married here, had family celebrations here, attended retirement dinners. It has a fantastic story.”

His aim is to restore it to its former glory over the coming years, and ensure it has a bright future. With the restaurant re-open - “the staff have been magnificent throughout the refurbishment” - the aim now is to extend the time people stay at the hotel with live entertainment well as functions.

“There are a lot of hotels and businesses but you have to invest again and again to keep people coming here. Lockdown and a cost of living crisis, and they have changed people’s social habits, but this is a busy hotel and a great place to come. People now eat earlier in the evening, and high teas have become very busy on a Sunday.

“It is family orientated - generations have come to this hotel. They spend a couple of hours catching up over a meal. We find people who come here because their parents used to dine here or come for a drink. There is an attachment to the Strathearn. There is that shared history.

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"I enjoy the buzz of seeing people coming in and enjoying the atmosphere here, and it is nice to put something back into the town. I have worked away for a lot of years - my business’ customer base is away from here - so it is good to out something back.”

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