England’s ‘oldest hotel’ sold to US investors

The Old Bell Hotel, a 13th Century hotel in Wiltshire believed to be England’s oldest hotel, has been sold to US investors Whim Hospitality off a guide price of £3.75m.

Dating back to the middle ages, the 34-bedroom Grade I listed historic country hotel sits adjacent to the 12th Century abbey in the ancient market town of Malmesbury, to the north of the River Avon.

The property has been under family ownership for many years, with Whim acquiring the hotel in order to “capitalise on the growing staycation trend, which marks their first entry into the UK hospitality market”.

The Old Bell Hotel underwent a recent restoration and continues to feature a raft of original features, including a fireplace in the restaurant dating back to 1220. The hotel also has a “significant” dining offering, with a public restaurant, bar, as well as options for private dining.

Fully licensed for indoor and outdoor civil ceremonies, the hotel caters for weddings of up to 65 guests, with the Library and Garden Room available for parties and corporate events of up to 60 people.

Matthew Smith, partner in the Hotels team at Knight Frank, said: “Purported to be England’s oldest hotel it is no surprise The Old Bell Hotel attracted global interest. We are delighted for Whit and Kim Hanks of Whim Hospitality as they embark on their first UK hotel acquisition, with exciting times ahead as they have large-scale plans to reposition the business, and we are confident this will be a huge success under their stewardship.

“Given the strength of the staycation market, which is continuing to power the hotel market in 2021, interest in these types of distinctive assets remains high from a range of international and domestic investors.”

Whit Hanks, co-founder of Whim Hospitality, added: “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to bring our Whim Hospitality brand of welcoming hospitality to The Old Bell Hotel in the historic market town of Malmesbury, home of our Hanks family ancestors.

“We are looking forward to meeting our guests, members of the community, local artisans, businesses and entrepreneurs as we create a programme for The Old Bell Hotel to be an inclusive, engaging destination in Malmesbury.”

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