A HOTEL that had its alcohol licence suspended after it introduced self-check-ins for guests over the winter has had it reinstated after bringing in a new live-in manager.

The Folly Hotel, North Berwick, sparked concern from East Lothian Council licensing board’s licensing standards officer (LSO) after a visit found people being asked to use a lock box to check in.

A meeting of the board in November heard that the hotel, on Station Hill, did not appear to have a current premises manager and was not serving alcohol.

READ MOREConcerns raised over self-check-in hotel drinks licence

Gareth Cotton, who was named as a former premises manager, had moved to a hotel in the Highlands and the LSO said that a visit to the North Berwick premises revealed it did not appear to be manned.

In her report to the board, the officer said of her visit: “There was a notice on the door. The sign detailed that the hotel was using a self-check-in due to a staff shortage. It directs guests to a side door with six lock boxes [containing keys].

"It appears that the hotel is unmanned and guests reside there without staff. This is concerning in relation to all the licensing objectives and the control the licence holder has over the operations and behaviour at a licensed premises.”

The board suspended its drinks licence until a review could be carried out and, at a meeting last week, heard that a new manager was in place.

Mr Cotton told the board that self-check-in was something which happened in some winters at the hotel because of staff shortages, with the aim always to return to fully staffed services, adding that guests did not have access to the bar area during this time.

He said that a new premises manager had been appointed and would be living on site, and he revealed that, while the hotel only sold small amounts of alcohol, the licence was integral to it remaining open.

He said: “If we sell £500-600 of liquor a year that would be a lot, but it is a very important thing for us to maintain, as maintaining the licence is also a requirement of our lease.

“So without the licence, we lose the lease, we lose the business entirely.”

The board unanimously agreed to reinstate the licence under the new premises manager.