Skip to main content
22 Feb 2023

The Hotelier Edit: Matthew Wallace of The Cairndale Hotel

The Hotelier Edit: Matthew Wallace of The Cairndale Hotel

For three generations, the Wallace family has been running The Cairndale Hotel, one of the friendliest hotels in Dumfries and Galloway. Independent Hotel Show London caught up with Matthew Wallace, the 26 year old Director carrying on the family business. 

Matthew Wallace

What are your earliest memories of the Cairndale Hotel?

Having grown up in and around the place, it’s difficult to pinpoint my earliest memory. However, I distinctly recall while at primary school ‘helping out’ in the Leisure Club on weekends, handing out towels to members and guests. I negotiated my hourly pay and remember feeling very grown up giving my Dad an invoice demanding payment at £1 an hour!


Tell us a bit about your career to date

Hotels have always been a passion and I’ve been so lucky to have been able to work in some the industry’s greatest. My first work experience outside The Cairndale was in the kitchens at Claridge’s. I then had a work experience at The Dorchester Hotel and following that at London’s finest independent and family owned hotel, The Goring. 

Knowing I loved the industry I studied International Hospitality Management at Oxford Brookes, completing my placement year with The Dorchester and 45 Park Lane. Returning to Oxford I worked in Guest Relations at Belmond Le Manoir, a truly special property. Graduating, I moved to New York City joining the Front Office team at The Peninsula New York. 

Covid brought me home to Scotland and I’m now back “helping out” to drive our hotel forward. My previous £1 hourly rate has since been re-negotiated. 


What has the recent renovation of the Cairndale Hotel involved?

Working with local interior designers, trades and craftsmen we have refurbished our main hotel reception, all corridors and bar area. Refurbishment works are ongoing as we enter into bedrooms prior to major event space. 


How will you be celebrating the hotel's 40th anniversary?

We are all very proud to be celebrating our 40th anniversary in June. We look forward to celebrating with colleagues past and present, our loyal guests, suppliers and friends at a show-stopping Gala Dinner with some headlining entertainment!

Cairndale Hotel

What do you think are some of the challenges facing the hotel sector in 2023?

Needless to say that energy price hikes are at the forefront of hoteliers’ minds. Properties with spas and extensive facilities will have some of the biggest challenges, conserving energy and improving efficiency while maintaining ever increasing guest expectations. 

In Scotland specifically, I think there are a number of legislation changes ahead such as the proposed bottle return scheme as well as a review of alcohol advertising. 

However, if it’s one thing learned from the last couple of years is that the hotel sector and those working within the industry have already proven our adaptability, resilience and determination to succeed. 


What are you excited about in the coming year?

Aside from celebrating our 40 years, 2023 will see the beginning of our spa development. This is my current priority and we are excited to be creating a true destination Spa for the region. 


How do you approach sourcing suppliers for your business?

Maintaining relationships with our suppliers is every bit as important as guest relationships. Being independent, I think this makes sourcing local produce all the more important. Dumfries and Galloway produces some of the finest produce in Scotland as well as being home to distilleries and artisan producers. 

Family business is so important and I will always a support those when I can. Otherwise, how can we expect others to support us?

 Cairndale Hotel 


What does a great customer experience look like at the Cairndale Hotel?

It may be a cliché but that’s down to the people. Our staff are friendly, know how to give a warm welcome and are always eager to please. Hopefully being privately owned gives us extra dimensions of flexibility and the personal touch.

We all know that the guest experience begins long before check-in and extends beyond check-out. 



What does it mean to you to run an independent hotel?

Running an independent hotel allows us the true freedom to create genuine experiences for our guests. The team and I take great pride in our work, our hotel and product because it is our efforts that make the property what it is.

Having the freedom to create memorable experiences without the red-tape/ hierarchy of branded or larger hotels is quite special. 

Freedom allows us to decorate and style how we choose. If I feel the team should wear a tartan tie I don’t need to check this with a corporate office. 

View all News Hub