Nestled in the quintessential English landscape of Stow-on-the-Wold, this 17th-century coaching inn has been lovingly restored by owner, Jim Cockell, and interior designer, Jordan Littler, to create an elegant, yet homely hotel.
When it came to formulating a new design identity for this former inn, Jim and Jordan wanted to create a more contemporary feel, while preserving the quirkiness of the existing structure.
“We wanted to work with the best period features and enhance them, then throw in a modern twist to create something unique to the area,” says owner, Jim. “The phrase we had in mind when we were first drawing up concepts for the hotel was ‘playful authenticity.”
The Old Stocks Inn thus deviates from the dark, rustic feel of many traditional Cotswolds hotels, its bright, crisp interior scheme creating an uplifting environment for guests.
“Colour has a lot of impact throughout the hotel; prior to the refurbishment, the hotel was dark with heavily patterned carpets and just felt very oppressive,” explains Jim.
“The colours and fabrics that we have introduced help to give each area their own personal identity, but tie the entire space together at the same time. When you see bold colours against the original beams and stone walls, you get a real feel for what it’s all about.”
Another key improvement was to the layout of the building. In order to enhance the flow of the hotel and to avoid wasted or unusable spaces, the reception space was opened up to create a more welcoming feel, while the bar and library were knocked through to create larger, more inviting spaces.
Of course, given the age of the building, the project was not without its challenges. “There were times when we felt we were dealing with the Cotswolds’ biggest jigsaw puzzle,” says Jim. “Having totally gutted the building, we had to put it back together again – and it wasn’t always obvious how we were going to do it.
“The old plumbing meant it was initially difficult to get the right water pressure throughout the hotel – not ideal when you’re installing big, powerful showers in all the rooms. We overcame that with some bigger pipes early on in the refurbishment.
“The design of the old building includes lots of narrow, winding staircases and oddly-shaped rooms. While they give the hotel lots of character, we discovered they make it very difficult to install large, heavy cast-iron baths in upstairs rooms! We had to get all of the tradesmen on board and working together, but the baths made it into the rooms in the end.
“There have been small challenges too – who knew so much thought would go into the right height for plugs next to a full-length mirror? Every little detail has been considered to create a hotel where guests feel comfortable and that really exceeds their expectations.”
Despite the often challenging nature of the team’s old ‘meets new’ vision throughout the process, the finished hotel sees the two worlds in perfect harmony. The bar, for example, draws upon an old English pub – complete with polished brass fittings – yet its light, airy feel, and palette of blues and greens, brings a more contemporary feel to the space.
The hotel’s café, The Little Stocks Coffee Shop, contains an eclectic mix of upcycled furniture, sourced by Jordan and his team, all painted and reupholstered to match the colour scheme.
The reception, meanwhile, embraces traditional craftsmanship and local culture. “We love the wall map that we had commissioned for our reception,” says Jim. “It encapsulates everything that the hotel stands for – championing the local area, its landmarks, history and it showcases the best that the Cotswolds has to offer. It was hand-drawn by a talented artist called Laura Faye Taylort.
“One element that won’t be obvious to guests, but we’re really proud of, is the downstairs ceiling in the restaurant and reception,” says Jim. “It has been painstakingly restored using a traditional horsehair and lime technique. We’re pleased that we’ve been able to keep traditions alive and complement the unique features of the inn and the region.”
The design of the guest rooms, too, centres around these unusual dimensions and quirks. There are four different room types, Family, Garden, House and Great, and each has its own colour theme.
Scandinavian-inspired wardrobe units and wall-panels have been custom-made by Tekne to accommodate the varying shapes and sizes of the rooms.
Comfy Hypnos beds have been specified, while the bathrooms feature stylish Burlington bathroom fittings and cast iron baths from The Cast Iron Bath Company.
Combining Jim’s passion and vision, with the talent and expertise of Jordan, The Old Stock’s Inn encapsulates the creativity and intimate feel that is at the heart of the boutique hotel sector. Despite the challenges presented, the team has created a destination venue to proud of.
“We’re absolutely thrilled with the end result! It was 18 months from developing the initial concept to the hotel opening its doors and it’s everything we’d hoped for and more,” says Jim.
“It’s been a long journey, but seeing The Old Stocks Inn as it is now and seeing how happy our guests are and how much our staff enjoy working here makes it all worthwhile.”