A remarkable rural retreat

Building a brand to stay

Kirkstyle Inn and Sportsman's Rest

Purchased back in September 2021 with plans to refurb and rebrand the entire premises into a 40-seater gastro pub with 4 guest rooms, The Kirkstyle Inn and Sportsman’s Rest needed a brand and website to tell their story.

Pound Coin Icons

Remember the name

9 of the top 10 organic search queries feature the words “Kirkstyle Inn”.

33k users

Over 33k users visited the website in the past year.

Visitor engagement time

Average engagement time on the website is 1m 56s.

From the outset of the project Oak Creative were professional and friendly. They quickly grasped, and demonstrated a good understanding of, what we were out to achieve. The proposal was comprehensive with options, which enabled us to choose the best package for us.  They kept within budget and delivered on time, while exercising great patience as both premises were new builds and encountered a few delays along the way. They worked closely with the team to design tasteful, simple and easy to use websites for both The Kirkstyle Inn and Sportsman’s Rest and The Old Rectory. They designed our logos and put the brand colour palate together with our interior designer. The CMS is intuitive and very easy to use. Oak Creative have always been quick to respond to requests, fixed problems and given great advice, with step-by-step guides to enable us to help ourselves in the future.

The Kirkstyle Inn opened in February 2023, by the end of the year we were included in The Good Food Guide’s Britain’s 100 Best Local Restaurants, awarded 2 AA rosettes, and a 5-star Inn rating, had a listing in the Michelin Guide; not to mention some great coverage in national and local press.  We couldn’t have done this without a website that got us recognised.  Our websites will continue to evolve with Oak Creative’s help and collaborative guidance. We cannot recommend Oak Creative highly enough.

Roz, Owner of Kirkstyle Inn

Why did The Kirkstyle Inn approach Oak Creative?

The Kirkstyle Inn and Sportsman’s Rest were creating a dining and accommodation experience on the borders of Cumbria and Northumberland and needed both a brand and a website to bring in dining and accommodation bookings.

Set in stunning countryside, the new owners were looking for branding to showcase the chef’s field-to-fork menu philosophy and the beautifully decorated rooms of the refurbished pub.

What were the objectives of the new branding and website?

We were briefed to create a brand that represented several core values. Fresh, game-led ingredients, the incredible location, the feel of the restaurant and rooms as well as a modern and contemporary angle.

We looked to classic illustrative styles for inspiration and researched the village of Slaggyford and the surrounding area for flora or fauna that could feature. After presenting several options, we opted for a grouse – regularly seen in that part of the world, and a regular feature of their menu.

The website had to be launched by May 2022, ready to take dining reservations, closely followed by room bookings to provide ROI as soon as possible. We ensured we had everything ready to go at each stage, liaising with a busy team at The Kirkstyle for content.

The website needed to be fully editable, with focus on changing menus and suggesting things to see and do around the area.

We set the site up in a bespoke WordPress build, with features specific for the client’s needs including menus, testimonials and galleries. We provided our usual training sessions at each stage of the site’s launch, ensuring the client was comfortable making changes to the site on the go.

How did Oak Creative approach the project?

Since the property itself was under construction when we were initially briefed, it couldn’t be photographed straight away. Designing a website to showcase a place to eat and stay without any visuals is tricky.

We staggered the launch of the website: first stage was a holding page featuring the new branding, with basic launch dates and contact information. The restaurant was finished before the rooms, so the website launched showcasing the dining side and allowing table reservations.

The final stage was launching the room pages, allowing for online bookings.

The photography really does an amazing job of showing off The Kirkstyle Inn and Sportsman’s Rest new look to its fullest, and it also captures the natural beauty of the surrounding area.

How has the new brand been rolled out?

The brand was initially rolled out to online platforms and on in-house printed materials such as menus. The logo appeared on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram social accounts alongside updates on the construction progress. With Slaggyford being such a small village, the work on The Kirkstyle gathered a lot of local interest and bookings soon stacked up.

The golden chalice for any restaurant/accommodation in such a remote location is a glowing review by a big name website. On the 7 July 2023, The Kirkstyle received just that – a feature in The Guardian with a link to the website leading to a very welcome 7.5k visits across three days: Priceless exposure for the brand, leading to an increase in daily visitor counts.

What have the results been?

The website has attracted 33k users in the past year which is a fantastic number for a small business. As mentioned, building a dining experience, accommodation options, brand and website worthy of an article and a link from The Guardian really does help.

9 out of 10 search terms used to find the website feature the phrase “Kirkstyle Inn”. Specific search terms like this result in a greater chance at direct bookings via the website. People are searching for Kirkstyle and finding it – meaning The Kirkstyle aren’t having to pay PPC fees, or shell out fees to Booking.com or other accommodation promoting websites.

Visitors are also spending a long time on the website – an average time of 1m 56s, double that of most websites (53 seconds). Beautiful photography, a pleasurable user experience, and brand focussed stories and visuals all add up to building a relationship with the visitor. They’re clicking through to an average of 4 pages, engaging in the Kirkstyle’s story, looking at photography, viewing menus and reading testimonials. All of that targeted, branded content is adding up to a lasting impression, a booking or, ideally, both.

This engagement has resulted in over 56% of website interactions in the last 12 months that are to check for availability of a room – that’s 2.6k clicks through to a potential room booking.

The Kirkstyle Inn and Sportsman’s Rest have now featured as a Favourite New Restaurant in the Michelin guide, achieved Two AA Rosette Awards for culinary excellence and also feature in the Good Food Guide 2023 as one of Britain’s cosiest pubs.

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