The Kings Head, which opened in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, five months ago, features a mix of the old and the contemporary throughout the 16th century building, which once welcomed King Charles II as a guest. Janet Harmer checks out the results of the seven-year project
Need to know
It has taken nearly seven years and £7m to transform what had previously been a rundown coaching inn into a chic, 45-bedroom boutique hotel that would not be out of place in one of London's newly gentrified areas. The Kings Head, however, is located slap in the middle of Cirencester, and since its relaunch in September 2014 it has introduced a buzzing, urban vibe to the otherwise sleepy Cotswolds market town.
Property developer Mark Booth of Wildmoor Properties acquired the Grade II-listed, 16th century hotel, having been drawn to the area through his love of polo. He is also the owner of the adjacent Corn Hall, which is now linked to the Kings Head to provide extensive banqueting space.
The hotel is managed by the Vineyard Group, with Stephen Mannock, formerly at Wivenhouse House hotel in Colchester, Essex, as general manager; Alan Holmes, from the Vineyard, as restaurant and cellar manager; and Wayne Sullivan, from the Montpellier Chapter, Cheltenham, as executive chef.
Architects Butler Silcock worked with Andrew McKenzie, managing director of the Vineyard Group, and designers Calico Interiors to sympathetically renovate the property.
Nicola Cole, who worked with Sarah Mitchell of Calico Interiors on the 12-month design aspect of the project, says that the building itself provided the inspiration for the finished look of the hotel.
"It was exciting to uncover some beautiful old fireplaces and walls, and where we could, we restored them," she says. "We wanted to put the history of the building on show."
Booth and his wife Alison played a major role in overseeing the design of the hotel and were personally involved in selecting many of the idiosyncratic antique pieces of furniture dotted around the property, which are intended to provide a contrast to the sleeker bespoke items. They also requested the use of local furnishing suppliers where possible.
The organic colours used throughout the building have been inspired by the rich, earthy tones that are featured in a portrait of King Charles II, a one-time guest of the hotel. The centrepiece of this lounge area - one of two in the hotel - is the antique oak factory cart table. It is surrounded by hand-made sofas from small, specialist furniture supplier Tamarisk Designs, covered in Warwick velvets.
The individual chairs are covered in a check fabric from Linwood.
Restaurant and bar
Uncovered weathered oak tables lend informality to the brasserie-style restaurant. The chairs feature tan faux leather seating pads and the banquet seating is covered in velvet from Warwick. All of the artwork has been sourced by the Booths from local artists and arranged into a photo montage by Calico
While all the bedrooms are different in shape and design, they are all incredibly generous in size. Most of the walls are painted with one of several natural shades from the Dulux range, while some feature one wall covered in the Royal Oak design from the Lewis & Wood range of wallpaper, featuring local scenes of country life including St Mary's church in Tetbury and the River Avon.
Meanwhile, the Fly Fishing fabric, also from Lewis & Wood, and used to cover cushions, has been inspired by the Cirencester Deer Park. The cushions were made by Tamarisk Designs.
The desks and Windsor chairs, together with some of the bedside tables, were commissioned from I & JL Brown, using its own paint colour, Calico Grey. Headboards are covered in velvet from the Warwick fabric company, while the beds - either 1.8m or 2m in width - have been supplied by Mattison Contract Beds.
Like the bedrooms, the bathrooms are individual in configuration, with plenty of space. The Cifial and Durastyle sanitaryware products are from Nexxtile of Cirencester. The tiles are from Nexxtile's own range: those on the wall are in Electra White, while the ceramic floor tiles, which cleverly replicate reclaimed wood, have been imported from Spain.
Overall the turnover is slightly ahead of projections, with the rooms just behind, food on target and drinks ahead.
"Our entry into the Mr & Mrs Smith guide this month has already had a dramatic effect on pushing ahead rooms business, which is good news," says Mannock.
"The bar has exceeded our expectations so much that we are now looking to turn the vaulted cellar into a jazz and blues bar on Friday and Saturday nights."
The Kings Head
24 Market Place, Cirencester, Gloucestershire GL7 2NRwww.kingshead-hotel.co.uk
Owner Mark Booth
Operating company Vineyard Group
General manager Stephen Mannock
Executive chef Wayne Sullivan
Starting room rate £135
Mattison Contract Beds
Bespoke bedroom furniture I & JL Brown
Check fabric Linwood
Cushions Tamarisk Designs
Interior designer Calico Interiors
Sanitaryware and bathroom tiles Nexxtile & Bathroom Interiors
Wallpaper and fabric Lewis & Wood