Construction work to transform the derelict Kings Arms hotel in Dorchester is to begin next month, after more than two years of delays.
Owners Stay Original, formerly Draco Pub Co, acquired the pub in 2015 with the view to transform the historic property on the high street into the fourth hotel in the portfolio in 2016.
However, due to the complicated nature of the Grade-II listed building, which dates back over 300 years, work has been slow getting off the ground with planning issues stalling the project.
Now managing director at Stay Original, Rob Greacen, has confirmed to Boutique Hotelier that the construction contract has been signed and building work is to start in February.
He said the group remains committed to the project and is taking care to restore as much of the original character of the building as possible.
Plans unveiled earlier this year said the property was an ‘important piece of Dorchester’s rich history’, with the refurbishment of the ‘celebrated building’ bringing a 120-cover bar and restaurant with 32 bedrooms to fruition.
Once complete, the property will become the fifth hotel in the Stay Original group, joining The White Hart in Somerston, The Swan in Wedmore, The Grosvenor Arms and Timbrell’s Yard in Bradford on Avon.
The Kings Arms, which featured in Hardy’s novel The Mayor of Casterbridge, closed in November 2015 after going into receivership 10 months earlier under previous owners.
It has stood empty ever since with its deteriorating exterior causing concern for local councillors and the public.
The February edition of Boutique Hotelier will feature an interview with Greacen, uncovering his plans for the future growth of the brand and how he works to overcome challenges within the business.