The scaffolding has come down at last at Latimer House and the solid oak doors are open again, revealing a luxury country hotel with a fresh interior and a new name – De Vere Latimer Estate.
Any concerns about Latimer House’s character being compromised during the 7 million pound revamp proved unfounded – it has been upgraded with great care taken to enhance the grade 11 listed building – period features like fireplaces and architectural detail have been retained and some new vintage style elements added such as decorative ironwork brackets supporting lighting.
“We’re very proud to have restored this remarkable mansion house and pay homage to its important history.” says Antonio Campanile, General Manager at De Vere Latimer Estate. “The newly refurbished bedrooms are looking fantastic and we’re already receiving excellent feedback from guests.”
Architect Rob Gibb was at the helm of the renovation project, Structural additions include a bright modern glazed extension housing a new restaurant and an outdoor dining courtyard. There is a real sense of bringing the outside in with lots of trees and lush greenery.
The company are keen that the hotel should be more widely used by the community going forward – in other words us!
“We want local people to come and have coffee in our new artisan coffee shop, enjoy tea and lunch in the house, hold celebrations, events and meetings here. The new Cavendish Suite accommodates 160 and bi-fold doors open on to a decked terrace with a stunning view overlooking the Chess Valley. The house is licensed for civil ceremonies and brides who want a church wedding can now get married at Latimer Church which is at the edge of our grounds! ”
The 1838 Restaurant is open to evening bookings too. The title is a nod to the year the red brick Tudor style mansion house was completed (the original Elizabethan house was destroyed by fire in the early 1830s). Conveniently 1838 is also the year William Morris was born and some of the wallcoverings and cushion fabrics used in the hotel’s public spaces are Morris designs – including the walls of the Burr and Co coffee shop which help contribute to the retro flavour contrasting with the contemporary edge.
Latimer still comes under the De Vere name but is now part of urban lifestyle hotel group Principal (PH Hotels), backed by Starwood Capital Group.
The approach to Latimer Place is in line with the ethos of the Group who have invested over £200 million in sensitively restoring and redefining heritage hotels across the UK, including the former George Hotel, Edinburgh, the Palace Hotel, Manchester and the Russell in London.
“The story of each hotel, its amazing history and architecture is the opposite of the mass-produced chain hotel, and provides us with a canvas on which to create a unique sense of place.” says CEO Barry Sternlicht.
The Group are proud of the sense of history across their hotels – `Hotel Russell’s link to the Titanic, Oxford Thames’ origins as a Knight Templar enclave in the 12th Century and of course Latimer House’s vital role for British intelligence services in the Second World War.
“When De Vere bought the property the Deeds specified that the wall blocking the (underground) tunnel wasn’t to be touched for 50 years.” says historian Helen Fry, “Latimer House holds many secrets.”
Whether any were uncovered in the revamp remains to be seen!