The Royal Oak
Originally opened in 1852, the Royal Oak Inn was the heartbeat of the Wiltshire village of Swallowcliffe until it sadly closed in 2007. Lying dormant for over seven years, it wasn’t until three villagers decide enough was enough and put together the funds, that the 19th century building was revitalised.
Reopened in September 2015, The Royal Oak blends six beautifully designed bedrooms with a pub restaurant that seats up to 80 people. Despite the short time that has expired since the revamp, The Royal Oak was recently nominated for the Independent Hotel Show Awards in the ‘Outstanding New Hotel’ category.
Mark Treasure has a rich history in the food industry, previously earning a Michelin star alongside numerous other awards. He is now Chef Patron at The Royal Oak and spoke to Premier Hospitality about the growth of the hotel and its impact on the village:
“We’ve been open a year and the villagers have been very supportive. They so wanted their pub back and the directors have given them their beautiful Pub with the addition of bedrooms, great food, service and hospitality. What makes the pub special is that we’re in a quiet village and yet people will travel to come eat and often stay with us.
“Villagers know they can pop in for a pint or a small bite to eat any time. We have a monthly quiz night, Wednesday is our curry night and Friday is our fish and chips night. We keep our feet rooted to what a pub should be rather than being a fine dining restaurant.”
“We’re in the heart of the village and we want to remain the heartbeat of the village. As such we try to cater for everyone. We want people to come here because it’s a pub with fab food. It’s is important to get the balance right. If someone wants a burger, they can have a burger but if someone wants a beautiful piece of lamb, Seabass or steak, it too is available.”
While striking a balance with the food has been vital, the interior design of the hotel as a whole was important in creating the right atmosphere. Tables and chairs have been handcrafted by a local furniture designer, Matthew Burt using local materials.
The pub can almost be split into two areas. The bar and dining room, which has kept its oldie world charm yet feels warm, welcoming and very clean.
“When you walk out into the back into the new extension we have a beautiful conservatory called the oak room. Again, everything in there has been beautifully handcrafted and designed. The pub has a natural flow from front to back.
“The bedrooms are very spacious, very airy. The standard of furniture, bedding and interior design is maintained throughout.”
Popularity in the village and further afield has meant The Royal Oak has already built a strong reputation for great food and hospitality. The award nomination is a testament to the hard work that has undoubtedly been put in.
“It’s fantastic that we’ve been nominated. We’re under no illusions that we’re up against some well-established places but within the first year to be nominated, we’re all extremely proud. It’s a credit to the whole team and directors for what they have achieved.
Based in Wiltshire, Matthew Burt design and make 21st century English furniture. Originally made up of just two people, the company is now a small creative team catering mainly to individual clients but also undertaking some corporate work.
In addition to working with The Royal Oak, Matthew Burt has produced a bar and stools for The Prince Leopold Inn and tables for Salisbury Arts Centre. The company also made benches for The Courtauld Gallery, The Ashmolean Museum and the National Museum of Wales. The firm always use English timber and each piece is labelled with a unique stamp detailing the specific type of timber used.
Matthew Burt, Creative Director and Founder, commented:
“The furniture for the Royal Oak is robust, simple, 21st century English furniture but it was intentionally designed to blend with an ancient interior.”
“Anybody who is seeking to breathe energy and enterprise into the local economy has got my backing because we are very much a Wiltshire based company through and through. Although we make for Britain, Europe and beyond, we are particularly interested in contributing to our local economy. It was just a lovely project to be involved with.”
“We pride ourselves in keeping an ancient tradition relative to our own times. We want to be able to make people see that modern work can sit nicely in an old setting, be comfortable, fit for purpose and be beautiful to look at.”