A Tale of Two Hotels (by one hotel photographer)

One of the wonderful things about my job (is it really a job if it never feels like work?) is meeting people with a passion. Business owners and team members who live and breathe what they do. They believe in what they have to offer and are on a mission to be the best that they can be. These people make for wonderful clients – my brief is Simply to make the images reflect their passion.

Recently I was lucky to work on a project for one of these exemplary clients, the Gough Hotel Group. The group is a long-established, family business run by Robert Gough and his wife Claire. They own and operate three properties in Suffolk and celebrated 50 years in the business in 2015. Robert’s mother Mary Gough established the business with her late husband and received an MBE for services to the hotel industry in 1990, before handing over the reins to Robert, who has obviously inherited her passion for hospitality.

There are three iconic Suffolk properties in the Gough portfolio The Angel Hotel in Bury St Edmunds The Salthouse Harbour Hotel on the Ipswich quayside and Southwold Pier and it was an honour to be asked to photograph at both the Angel and the Salthouse.

This assignment involved capturing the intricate details of the rooms, the tantalizing culinary delights, the art of mixology, the bustling kitchens, and the overall lifestyle of these exquisite establishments.

A Tale of Two Hotels:

Salt House Harbour, nestled in the heart of Ipswich, is a hidden gem that effortlessly blends modern elegance with maritime charm. The hotel overlooks the picturesque Ipswich Waterfront, offering breathtaking views that inspired me from the very beginning. With a keen eye for detail, a mainstay from my days as an interior designer, I aimed to capture the exquisite interiors of the rooms, each thoughtfully designed to provide a haven of comfort and style. Soft hues, luxurious furnishings, and panoramic windows that bathe the spaces in natural light. Every photograph aimed to showcase the welcoming ambiance that Salt House Harbour exudes, leaving guests with a lasting impression of serenity and sophistication.

The Angel, located in the historic town of Bury St Edmunds, is a stunning Georgian hotel that exudes timeless elegance. Stepping into this establishment felt like stepping back in time, with its grand architecture and rich heritage (even Charles Dickens stayed here). My task was to capture the blend of old-world charm and contemporary luxury that The Angel effortlessly embodies. From the opulent suites to the charmingly cozy rooms, I sought to define the essence of each space, paying attention to intricate details such as antique furnishings, sumptuous fabrics, and carefully curated artwork. Through my lens, I aimed to create an emotional connection between the viewers and the hotel, inviting them to experience the enchantment for themselves.

A Gastronomic Adventure:

In addition to the beautiful interiors, I documented the gastronomic experiences offered at both hotels including their signature afternoon teas. I had the privilege of stepping into the hotel kitchens, witnessing the skillful chefs at work, and photographing the magic of their creations. I aimed to evoke the viewer’s taste buds with tantalizing food photographs, showcasing the commitment to culinary excellence that these hotels pride themselves on.

Cocktails and Delights:

Mixology is also an art form at both Salt House Harbour and The Angel and their skilled bar staff craft a wonderful selection of unique and innovative cocktails. Through my photographs, I aim to transport viewers to the vibrant atmosphere of the bars, where the clinking of glasses and the laughter of patrons fill the air.

Lifestyle Shots: Setting the Mood

To fully immerse viewers in the experience of these hotels, I ventured beyond the rooms and restaurants to capture their lifestyle. Whether it was guests enjoying the waterfront views at Salt House Harbour or taking time out in the lounge at The Angel surrounded by a quirky mix of curiosities, pop art, eccentric oddities, and cool vintage furniture. These lifestyle shots set the mood and invited viewers to imagine themselves savoring the remarkable experiences offered by these hotels.

Working with clients like the Gough Hotel Group reinforces the joy of my job. Meeting passionate individuals who pour their hearts into their businesses and being entrusted to capture their passion in images is a rewarding experience. It is a testament to the power of photography to evoke emotions, transport viewers to unique destinations, and invite them to be a part of extraordinary journeys in beautiful surroundings.

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