A new boutique hotel group with quirky décor and locally sourced food has been launched by two brothers in the north west of England.
The first hotel, the 20-bedroom Vicarage Freehouse & Rooms in Holmes Chapel, Cheshire, is expected to be followed by further properties across the county, as well as in Shropshire, Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire.
Oliver Heywood, 27, who is a member of the hotel investments team at Savills real estate agent, said: "All hotels must have character, historical prevalence, destination venues in the countryside, but close to chimney pots and motorways."
His brother, 26-year-old Dominic, heads the day-to-day operations of the business. Peter, their father, is now retired, having previously owned and operated hotels in Cheshire, including the Belfry House, Handforth, and Old Hall in Sandbach, while their grandfather, Jim owned hotels and pubs in Manchester from the 1950s to the 1970s.
Funding for the acquisition and refurbishment of the Vicarage has come from private investment and a government-backed grant for small and medium enterprises.
The food and beverage element of the Grade II-listed, 17th century Vicarage opened in spring 2014 following a six-month refurbishment, after the property had been closed to customers for six years. The 20 bedrooms have just launched and 12 suites will open later in the summer. Bedroom rates start at £100.
Steve Tuke, previously at Oddfellows and Chester Grosvenor in Chester, has been appointed executive chef at the Vicarage and will oversee food and beverage across all new openings.
The interior design is described as shabby chic, quirky and pitched at the four-star market. "Flat Cap Hotels offers a modern twist in the traditional country pub, restaurant and events space with unique bedrooms and suites," said Oliver Heywood.
The Flat Cap name has been chosen because it was historically adopted by many industries in the North West and Cheshire as a uniform, as well as being worn by the country gentry for shooting parties and more recently as a fashionable accessory.
"The flat cap is personified as homage to locally sourced food produced by the countryside community," explained Oliver Heywood. "The brand will evoke a focus on the conservation of nature, championing the pastoral revival in the ever-growing technology world of hospitality."