Colchester’s George hotel – “a nationally important timber-framed medieval inn” – is to close for at least three months to undergo a £10m renovation.
Harwich-based developer Flying Trade Group (FTG), owner of Surya Hotels, acquired the 47-bedroom hotel in 2015. The company has since converted nearby St Nicholas House into a 44-bedroom hotel, increasing the number of bedrooms on Colchester High Street to 91.
Work is now due to start on the Grade II*-listed George hotel, with a reopening expected in October. In preparation for the work, a report by architectural historian Leigh Alston declared the building to be “a rare example” of a timber-framed building from the latter part of the 14th and early 15th century. “The greatest significance of the George is the extent to which it illustrates the scale and complexity of medieval inns in the heart of a major town,” he said.
Among the most impressive features are a rare first-floor open hall that currently forms a stair landing, a well preserved medieval shop front, and a 15th century gateway in the inn yard.
Suki Dulai, chief executive of FTG, said: “We feel greatly privileged to be tasked with bringing this historic site into the 21st century while respecting its amazing heritage.
“We have to ensure that whilst we bring the hotel back up to date with modern comforts and facilities, that we don’t lose the historical atmosphere of the building. We are passionate about retaining the charm and ambience of this beautiful hotel.”
Café George, which is situated directly within the hotel, but with access from the High Street, will also be upgraded and relaunched as part of the renovations. A brasserie within the hotel will relaunch alongside the reopening of the George.
Nick Wildman, general manager of the George, will oversee the renovation.
Run by brothers Harry and Suki Dulai, FTG comprises Surya Foods, one of the largest suppliers of international foods in the UK, and Surya Hotels portfolio of 13 properties, predominately located in East Anglia. The company has a turnover of more than £130m.