The hotel developer, SUSD, has just won planing consent to convert the estate into luxury retreat, complete with a 53-key hotel…
SUSD, the developer behind two of London’s most successful hybrid destinations, The Curtain Hotel & Members Club and Devonshire Club, has just won planning consent, subject to finalising the S106 Agreement, for a third development, this time on the banks of the Thames near Pangbourne, Berkshire.
The historic 3.4 hectare Grotto Estate includes a Grade ll listed house constructed as a riverside retreat for Lady Fane in the early 18th Century, extensive lawns, and rolling wooded parklands with direct access to the river. Capability Brown is thought to have advised on the original design of the landscape. Consent is for the restoration, reconstruction and enhancement of the main house, converting it into a 53-guestroom hotel with a restaurant and bars, six new two-bedroom detached lodges associated with the hotel and the replacement of several dilapidated outbuildings to create new leisure facilities. The consent, granted under the planning terms of Enabling Development, also includes two detached family houses, which will be for private purchase, in the original grounds of the Grotto.
“A 20th Century studio building will be replaced by a two-storey spa and gym with outdoor pool.”
The Grotto, view from the Thames Path
SUSD worked in close collaboration with Historic England and West Berkshire Council in developing the scheme to ensure that it would provide an amenity for the local community, that the site ecology would be protected and enhanced and that all works to the existing main house would be completely respectful of the heritage asset. This will involve the reinstatement of a number of original elements, including a first-floor conservatory, which will combine historical reference with contemporary detailing, and the return of the grand ‘Oval Room’ on the ground floor as well as sensitive remedial works to the white painted brick façade to replicate the former appearance of the building.
In the grounds, the tennis courts will be refurbished, the boathouse will be reinstated, a 20th Century studio building will be replaced by a two-storey spa and gym with outdoor pool and a ‘coach house’ extension will be built, linked to the original building by a glazed walkway, to accommodate 19 of the guestrooms.
“The reinstatement of the Grotto Estate as a luxurious country retreat will demand close attention to detail, careful selection of materials and an observance of traditional detailing and construction methods,” says Harry Harris, founder of SUSD who was recognised last year in The Brit List 2018. “Emphasis will be placed on achieving the correct balance between traditional and contemporary design and detailing, and on ensuring that an underlying consistency of quality and feel is established across the entire site. Both the hotel experience and the residences will sit within the high end of their respective markets.”
Grotto from the centre of the site looking North West
The new lodges will be single storey with a mezzanine sleeping area within the roof space. Located within existing woodland, the lodges will have a simple and restrained design aesthetic with clean, crisp contemporary form and detailing. They will be constructed of timber-clad, factory-built modules installed on a discreet plinth to make them a floating ‘light touch’ on the landscape that recedes behind the tree screening. The two family homes will reference existing residential buildings that neighbour the site and will be orientated and internally planned in response to Passivhaus standards as well as to maximise views towards the Thames. Across the development, sustainability and environmental performance have been a key consideration, with the hotel targeting a
BREAAM rating of ‘Very Good’
SUSD’s vision for the Grotto is to create a destination that celebrates its legacy while offering levels of comfort and a range of experiences to chime with the expectations of modern-day guests. These will include a kitchen garden and individually customised spa treatments as well as such advanced technology as room control apps for guests’ smart phones, biometric security and 3D hologram conference calling.
Harris concludes: “Just as we did with both Devonshire Club and The Curtain, we are curating spaces and services at The Grotto that will foster an experience relevant to the location and provide members with everything they need – from rooms, restaurant, bar, gym and spa, to cultural programmes, garden walks and riverside retreats. We create destinations to match how people like to live their lives today, in the process revitalising buildings and sites that might not stack up as a standalone hotel or leisure venue.”
Main image credit: SUSD