Farncombe Estate have recently unveiled their latest boutique hotel; The Fish after an extensive renovation project transforming what was previously a conference centre into a luxury, 47 bed countryside retreat.
Located on the Farmcombe Estate, alongside its sister hotels Dormy House Hotel & Spa and Foxhill Manor, the hotel comprises of The Lodge and separate bedroom blocks offering guests the best in tranquil, countryside luxury.
Premier Hospitality caught up with Hannah Lohan, from Hannah Lohan Interior Design & Styling who acted as the project designer, to find out more about the scheme. Hannah commented:
“I got involved with The Fish after I delivered a styling project at Foxhill Manor; the operators told me they were thinking of turning the conference centre on the estate into a budget boutique hotel. They asked me if I be interested in doing that as well so I put together a proposal and pitched for the scheme.
“I was influenced by the natural surroundings of the Cotswolds and so the design scheme reflects this. Everything is light and fresh, but cosy as well making it an appealing venue for both the summer and winter. I also drew a lot of inspiration from neighbouring industrial farms and the fact that the hotel owners are Scandinavian, so the design nods to their heritage.”
Works began on site in February this year and was undertaken mainly by the estates in-house construction team, as well as specialist contractors Robeys who constructed and fitted the hotel’s impressive 360° panoramic fire in the hotel bar.
The team had to work around the conference centres current configuration, as well as around conferences that were being held during the construction period which was a challenge. After lengthy planning and on site scheme of works The Fish now comprises a central hub, known as The Lodge containing the reception, bar and restaurant and three bedroom blocks holding the boutique hotel’s 47 bedrooms.
When works began on site a full strip out of the bar and restaurant was undertaken, in order to lessen disruption to ongoing conferences in other parts of the buildings, and the major renovation works to the spaces were carried out in February and March.
During this time the bar and restaurant was cordoned off, new flooring was fitted, new doorways were created and the space was transformed with a lick of paint and the installation of bespoke furniture.
Hannah was given a free range with the design concept by the clients and so was able to craft a design scheme that she felt was most appropriate to the space.
The brief was stricter for the restaurant as the operators were keen to create a casual, adaptable 150 cover space. The bar and restaurant space can be found in The Lodge past the reception space, down a long corridor. The space has been divided by an impressive industrial shelf unit, complete with gas pipes and reclaimed wood shelving.
The dividing unit has been installed to make the space feel cosy and enclosed; whilst at the same time ensure the space is open-plan so guests walking into the bar can see directly into the restaurant space.
The communal spaces in The Lodge comprise a number of countryside influences including references to the Cheltenham Races, cotton reels referring to the Cotswolds industrial history, as well as numerous vintage features.
The panoramic 360° fire links the venue to its sister hotel; Dormy House Hotel & Spa, as well as connecting it with the operators Scandinavian heritage where fires are a crucial part of a homely environment.
The Lodge’s reception area contains a large, bespoke reception desk made from rustic wood and adorned with large industrial lights and clock. Guests tired from a long journey can relax in the reception’s quirky, contemporary pod chairs and soak up the tranquil country views before heading to their rooms.
The Fish’s 47 contemporary country bedrooms, made up of 15 Standard Rooms, 28 Superior Rooms and four Junior Suites, are spread throughout three buildings; The Farmhouse, The Outhouse and The Stables. Located a stone’s throw away from The Lodge the bedrooms can be accessed via a short walk. Works to the bedrooms were undertaken over a phased period of works with rooms revamped in blocks of five to minimise disruption.
Hannah told us more about the challenging nature of the project, she added:
“Working around the guests was a challenge but we managed to get them involved via the mood boards we placed around the space. Looking at these made the guests excited about the change to the venue. Suppliers taking longer than originally expected were also a challenge for us, but that is something that is part and parcel of being an interior designer. Aside from that the scheme ran smoothly.”
A passionate Hannah said it means a lot to be involved with the Farncombe Estate:
“It has been a fantastic project for me; the clients are lovely and it really was a team effort, as everyone had great ideas and put them forward right from the beginning everyone which is what has made it so successful.
“I have thoroughly involved working on this scheme and it has definitely been one of the best ones I’ve done. There are a few exciting, secret things happening on the estate which I am set to be involved with in the future.”
Fritz Fryer acted as the lighting consultant during this project and assisted Hannah Lohan realise the technical aspects of setting out an eclectic lighting design. Emma Hambling from the firm commented:
“I was given a basic steer on the general look and feel for The Fish and I recommended various products that would blend into the general interior design layout.
“I think it is essential to consider both the aesthetics and effects of a lighting scheme. The scheme needs to set the tight ambient tones making the various area inviting, function and relaxing. This requires the skill of an expert in the field of lighting and scheme design – we can offer that at Fritz Fryer.”
Fritz Fryer specialise in the design and manufacture of contemporary lighting and the restoration of vintage and period fittings. The firm offers a scheme design service helping clients set out lighting schemes that create the right level of light for a given area and incorporate fittings. The small team of specialist offer a bespoke service by tailor making items to fit client’s requirements.