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Gloucestershire Business News

EXCLUSIVE: 'King's' hotel looks to boost wedding trade

Demand for tying the knot in the shadow of King Charles' country retreat looks to be on the rise after the Hare and Hounds, the closest bar, hotel and wedding venue to the Highgrove Estate, asked planners for permission to expand.

Westwood Studios Ltd have submitted plans to Cotswold District Council which, if approved, will add linking space between a front section of the Victorian Cotswold hotel's handsome facade.

In a Design and Access statement, leisure designers Westwood told planners that the single-storey extension with a flat roof would bridge an existing hall, so that it can be turned into additional reception space.

Westwood added: "The main property was built in the 1860s in Victorian Neo Renaissance style by Robert Stayner Holford, who owned the Westonbirt estate and founded Westonbirt Arboretum, it became a hotel in the 1920s. Set on landscaped grounds and woodland, this high-end Cotswold stone hotel dates from the 18th century and is 1.3 miles from Westonbirt Arboretum and 2.5 miles from Tetbury."

The Hare and Hounds is part of the Cotswold Inns and Hotels Group which is owned by Fuller, Smith and Turner PLC, who also, under the Fuller's name, own and operate more than 380 pubs, inns, and hotels across the south of England, including 209 managed businesses and 175 tenanted inns. With 56% of its business outside the M25, Fuller's has more than 820 boutique bedrooms in its managed estate, while the Cotswold Inns and Hotels Group includes the Close Hotel in Tetbury, the Manor House in Moreton-in-Marsh, the Swan at Bibury and the Bay Tree in Burford.

Licensed for civil ceremonies, the Hare and Hounds has 42 bedrooms and stages receptions for up to 150 guests, with a wing of the hotel dedicated to the ceremony, wedding breakfast and parties. The reviews website Hitched reported that the venue, a welly's throw from Westonbirt Arboretum and close to the Beaufort Polo Club, is a "a very popular destination for customers both locally and nationwide". Newlyweds can stay in a separate cottage with private garden and hot tub.

Westwood also told planners: "The business encompasses a vital provision for wedding parties and this is something Fullers want to sustain but equally improve. The reason for this proposal... is to further enhance the external areas of the hotel. By creating the infill construction adjoining the existing hall, this will create another reception space which will be utilised by the wedding side of the business. Equally the conversion of the existing windows into French doors will enable direct access from the hall to the existing garden area, which has great importance for the business, especially the wedding and conference elements."

● Hitched also reported that a typical wedding last year was £18,400 - a 6% rise on budget from 2021, when the average UK wedding cost £17,300. 2022 trends, the site added, included 11% of weddings being alcohol-free, 86% of newlyweds leading a first dance and 31% of couples already having children. On average, couples invited 81 guests.

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