We spoke with Alice Anthony about the unveiling of 39 John Street, a new sister property to 19 Mary Street, including what makes the new property so special and the challenges involved in working on a second property during the pandemic.
Hi Alice, can you start by telling us about 19 Mary Street?
I opened 19 Mary Street in 2016. Here we offer serviced stays just one minute walk from Porthcawl's seafront and town high street. We offer a range of rooms from our budget single room to our Deluxe Studio room. This is the old cocktail lounge that still has the bar intact so you can make yourself drinks at your private bar.
Is it right that 19 Mary Street started life as a tapas bar?
Yes, 19 Mary Street started life as a tapas and cocktail bar with more emphasis on the restaurant and cocktails than the accommodation above. When I purchased 19 Mary Street in 2015 it was the old Bar 19 & Sandville hotel. It was in need of a lot of ‘TLC’ so after 6 months of renovations I opened up the Porthcawl’s first cocktail bar!
Although there were aspects I loved, such as serving some of the brilliant regular customers we had, it was exhausting! After two years of very hard work and next to no social life I decided to convert the downstairs cocktail bar into another room and the Deluxe King Studio was born.
Sounds like you’re a bit of an entrepreneur! What were you doing before taking this on?
I studied Biomedical Science at Cardiff University before taking a year out to travel. In Fiji I did a jewellery making class and we made coconut shell rings on the beach. I still make jewellery, sourcing silver and semi precious gemstone jewellery from across the world, as ‘Wanderlust Jewellery’.
Growing up my grandparents who I was very close to started multiple businesses and my mum also had her own business, so I think in the back of my mind, I always wanted to do the same!
And what about your new accommodation, 39 John Street?
A few years later I wanted to create more guest accommodation but slightly different to our ensuite rooms at 19 Mary Street. The new studios at 39 John Street are more spacious luxury accommodation focused towards guests who may want a slightly longer stay. They have kitchenettes and a second bedroom, sleeping up to 4 guests.
What can you tell us about the rooms?
39 John Street has a modern eclectic interior adorned with industrial exposed lighting and neon lights in each room. I based the rooms loosely around the neon lights I had designed on songs by classic British bands that I love.
The Sunshine Studio: A hint of The Beatles with our custom 'Here Comes The Sun' neon & Beatles prints.
The Scaramouche Studio: A touch of Queen with our custom Bohemian Rhapsody neon & Freddie Mercury drawing.
The Sweet Dreams Studio: A smidge of The Eurythmics with our 'Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This' neon.
Being right in the centre of John Street we are in the perfect location for guests travelling to Porthcawl. Just a stone’s throw from the beach and harbour and right in the middle of the high street which has some fantastic independent stores.
How does check in work at 39 John Street?
Just like our first location, we have a speedy and convenient check in service via key-code entry and our secure key box to obtain keys. We have always used this method for guests to arrive but this is safer during these times as the whole process is contact free. We have a phone concierge service and I am always available to help with anything.
It’s great that you’ve been able to open a second property during such a tough period for tourism!
In terms of business the last year has been strange to say the least! We started the renovations a few months before Covid-19 became a household name. It was a complete redesign of the property layout as it was previously an office space. I love interior design and wanted to create a fun space for guests so I have really enjoyed decorating the studios.
I know hospitality businesses can’t make up for the devastating losses experienced during the last year but I do believe we will have a great summer as restrictions are eased. Everyone has had a very tough year in different ways and people deserve a break. Let’s hope they choose Porthcawl as their staycation this year!
Do you have any favourite restaurants or bars/pubs that you can’t wait to visit as soon as they’re back up and running?
Yes, I can’t wait to visit Cosy Corner in Porthcawl, it always has a great atmosphere with delicious food and wonderful cocktails - I am well overdue a girls night out catching up with friends after lockdown. I am also looking forward to a lunch at Harbour Bar watching the waves at the pier with a glass of wine (or two!)