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7th February 2023

From the metropolis of Madrid to managing Shepherd Neame’s Woolpack Inn in Chilham – Jose takes it all in his Salsa Stride

New General Manager at Shepherd Neame’s The Woolpack Inn, Chilham, Jose Lago, may have grown up in the metropolis of Madrid, but he can’t wait to make a home from home for himself and his customers in the East Kent countryside.

He has worked in the hospitality industry in some diverse locations including Spain, Dubai, and Northern Ireland, but it is all about feeling at home, he says. “I love travelling, and have lived and worked in lots of places but I feel that wherever I am, I am part of the family. And I like my guests to feel like they are in their own home, too.”

Jose started out working at his family’s restaurant in Madrid and went on to work at several different sites across Spain, before taking the plunge and moving to Dubai where he worked in some five star hotels for several years.

However, he yearned for a more intimate setting, and headed to a boutique hotel near Belfast, before moving closer to Kent with a pub with rooms in Rye.

“It was a completely different pace of life,” he says. “I like to be in the middle of nature, but also near the big towns so for me, Chilham is perfect. I love this place, and it is the perfect distance to Canterbury, which I love, and Ashford. And it’s easy to get to London if you want to.”

With 14 rooms; a bar and restaurant, The Woolpack is the smallest site he has managed, but it is perfectly proportioned for Jose – and so is independent family brewer, Shepherd Neame.

“After working for big companies I wanted to work for a company that had more than one hotel but wasn’t too big and could offer a more personal approach, so Shepherd Neame was exactly what I wanted,” he said.

He will also be bringing some of his skills with him, including his past experience as a cocktail coach, so customers can look out for additions such as Espresso Martinis, and also some speciality coffees, as he is an avid coffee lover!

The site in historic, picturesque Chilham is ideally situated for walkers to pop in for a warming coffee by the fire – and if they have a four-legged friend with them, they will also be welcomed in the bar.

Spanish Jose is also fluent in Portuguese as his mother is from the country, and he says he has had plenty of opportunity already to welcome guests in other languages. But despite growing up in Spain, it actually took for him to move to Kent to take up salsa dancing – he is taking classes in Canterbury.

He has also settled in with the 15 full and part time staff who work at the site, and says of his management style: “I always try to set a good example, you need to be friendly and polite and respectful at the same time. I aim for friendly and relaxed service. But I do like to be busy!”

With large beams and inglenook fireplaces, The Woolpack Inn caters for those wanting a delicious dinner, a quiet stop-off from a walk, or a relaxing stay in the rolling countryside. Its kitchen team hand-pick the best seasonal ingredients for the very best meals from breakfast to dinner.

Dishes range from Local Day Boat Fish Pie with Winterdale Shaw and parsley mashed potato, in a creamy saffron sauce, served with a fennel, samphire and rocket salad, or Maple Glazed Pressed Pork Belly with herby sautéed potatoes, cauliflowers puree, crispy crackling, buttered mangetout and green beans with a rich red wine gravy.

You can find The Woolpack Inn at The Street, Chilham, Kent, CT4 8DL, visit or call 01227 730351.


About Shepherd Neame

Shepherd Neame has been based in the market town of Faversham, Kent for over 300 years. Perhaps best known for great British classic ales such as Spitfire Amber, which carries the Royal Warrant, its diverse portfolio includes Five Grain Lager, Bear Island East Coast Pale Ale and Bear Island Triple Hopped Lager, and the Whitstable Bay Collection. It also brews international lagers under licence including Samuel Adams Boston Lager and premium Thai lager Singha. The independent family business boasts an award-winning visitor centre and more than 300 pubs and hotels throughout London and the South East, from the historic heart of the City to the Kent coastline.

Shepherd Neame is not responsible for the content on third party websites.

Press release from Shepherd Neame.

For further information please contact Communications Executive Angela Cole on 01795 542142 or email or visit