The team behind Coombe Abbey Hotel has been appointed by Historic Coventry Trust to operate some of the city’s most ancient buildings as unique visitor accommodation boosting the city’s visitor economy.
The partnership is set to bring some of the magic of Coombe to Coventry city centre with six historic buildings being launched as boutique holiday and visitor accommodation in October.
Historic Coventry Trust’s £1.5m partnership project with Coventry City Council to restore and convert the city’s two medieval gates and the three Lychgate Cottages in Priory Row is nearing completion, bringing new life to ancient buildings that have lain underused for decades. The buildings were originally built between 1385 and 1440 and are rare survivors of the city’s medieval heyday.
The Trust has brought in Coventry-based heritage attraction specialists, No Ordinary Hospitality Management, to promote and operate the properties, following on from their recent appointment by the Council to operate St Mary’s Guildhall.
Graham Tait, Assistant Director of the Historic Coventry Trust, who has managed the delivery of the project, said: “This is the culmination of 12 months of painstaking restoration work which followed years of planning and fundraising to bring the project to fruition. This has only been possible through our close partnership with the Council who have transferred the buildings to the Trust on a 250-year lease. The project forms part of the ground-breaking Framework Agreement entered into between the Trust and Council in 2019 covering many of the city’s most important heritage assets.
“The results of the works really are stunning and give Coventry a unique set of accommodation which will allow people to stay in historic properties while exploring what the city and region has to offer. The timing is perfect as the city gets into gear in its year of culture with lockdown restrictions lifting.”
There are four properties in Priory Row which can cater for parties from two to six, while the Cook Street and Swanswell Gates can accommodate two people each.
The project has been funded by Architectural Heritage Fund, the Council’s Cultural Capital Investment Fund and the Government’s Getting Building Fund through the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP). The framework partnership with the Council has attracted national attention with the Trust’s entrepreneurial model of sustainable reuse of heritage buildings set to be adopted by other cities following a string of successful restoration projects including The Burges/Hales Street regeneration, London Road Cemetery, Charterhouse and Drapers’ Hall.
Richard Harrison, of No Ordinary Hospitality Management – the company behind Coombe Abbey Hotel – said the new accommodation would give the city a unique offer to potential visitors.
“These properties have been saved and then meticulously restored by the Trust which, along with Coventry City Council, deserves massive credit for the project,” he said.
“They hugely add to the visitor offer of the city. You often hear the complaint that city centres have become too uniform – well that cannot be said of this accommodation offer in Coventry.
“These properties really are historic gems and the attention to detail and level of fit-out really is of the highest order.
“We are thrilled to be given the opportunity to manage the properties and being based locally means we are fully invested in making the project a success and showcasing just what a superb job has been done.”
No Ordinary Hospitality Management recently won the contract to manage St Mary’s Guildhall.
Councillor David Welsh, Cabinet Member for Heritage in the city, said: “These are some of the city’s most important heritage buildings and it is remarkable to see what the Trust has done to turn the buildings into real assets for Coventry.
“I recently visited the Lychgate Cottages and they look amazing. They’re a unique place in the heart of the city.
He added: “This is important partnership work that will help the future day-to-day management of these city gems, and the involvement of NOHM will really energise the city’s heritage assets in the future.”
Helen Peters, chair of the CWLEP’s culture and tourism business group, added: “Having top-class accommodation helps to attract visitors to stay in the area and with this being Coventry’s year as UK City of Culture and the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games on the horizon, this is the perfect opportunity to attract guests.
“The Getting Building Fund was set up to invest in projects which could start straight-away as we begin to rebuild the economy and this accommodation will certainly help to boost the local economy.”