Enhancing guest experience through reinventing spaces. In conversation with The Old Stocks Inn

Mooch around in the historic square of Stow-on-the-Wold, and you’ll be glad to stumble across the re-invented Old Stocks Inn, inspired by the ancient wooden stocks that still stand today. Hotel owner Jim Cockell and Interior Designer Jordan Littler are the masterminds behind the property that brings a fresh authentic take on Cotswold hospitality.

I can’t help but be intrigued by the team behind this well designed concept. Great design and great operations go hand in hand here. Frequenting The Old Stocks Inn since it’s shiny new re-design, the atmosphere and sparkle is consistent with each visit. You can sense behind the scenes that Duo GM team: Charlotte and Richard Tuck have a discerning and innovative eye across the whole kit and caboodle.

Charlotte shares her thoughts on the re-design and how it has enhanced the Cotswold experience for guests..

Talk us through how the space has been reconfigured…

“The reception area has been widened and opened out, really making use of the listed windows and the natural light available. This did eat into the restaurant space a little from the original layout, but is not missed as it does create a real ‘wow factor’ of a welcome”.

“Our bar and library area have had the wall knocked through to create an interconnecting bar. The library was originally a rather redundant space, but now we have created a light and airy space for guests to relax, play a board game or read a book”.

“Our Little Stocks Coffee Shop was created from a second auxiliary dining room, rarely used”. We also turned the one downstairs bedroom into what is now our Private Dining Room for up to 18 guests. We host regularly meals, meetings, events such as Cocktail Masterclasses, Chef’s Table Evenings etc. It wasn’t so much a complete change of layout, more a reinvention of existing space”.

Have there been any surprises in how guests interact compared to the original layout? For example, with the building, with the staff or with each other.

“I think the Inn now encourages our guests to free roam a little and enjoy the different spaces. Before it was all a little closed off or some bits weren’t in use. It’s lovely now to see our guests relaxing in the garden or languishing in a big armchair in the library. I think the main difference is the relaxation element and allowing time to stand still and enjoy the surroundings and the moment you are in. It’s because of that, our guests interact with our staff more and each other and have a wonderful time”.

Do you have any favourite aspects?

I love the rooms the most, but also the bar and restaurant. I think the design and the flow of the space from one area to another gives elements of delight. The whole Inn has such colour, light and vibrancy and each room has a personality and a history which has been sympathetically considered in the refurbishment.It truly is a new-meets-old refurbishment as all original tradesmen were used to replace or repair old techniques like for like- such as lath and plaster. British designers for interior furniture, lighting and soft furnishings. Upcycling of Ercol furniture and old school desks in rooms and public areas.

It just never fails to make me smile when I check guests into their rooms as they always seem so amazed. It’s nice sometimes to hang back to hear the sounds of “Oh wow!” or “this is amazing!” after I’ve left the room. We have created such unique, inspirational spaces for our guests to enjoy and it’s a joy to work here.

Incorporating a designated coffee shop seems quite a novel idea. Was this a clear objective right at the beginning or did this evolve during the design process?

This was a clear objective from the start. We knew that the coffee and tea side of the trade was popular in Stow on the Wold and so we thought we needed to give it a proper home and have a designated place to have great coffee, tea and artisan produce such as cakes, sandwiches, homemade soups etc. The Little Stocks Coffee Shop has the same look and feel as the main Inn, just has slightly different opening hours. It had its own listed front door and entrance so we thought what better way to ensure our customers have access to great coffee that they can grab on their way to work or whilst having a look around Stow. Or if they have time, can pop in and have a lovely lunch with us and enjoy the view across the square. We’re thrilled that it’s such a popular place!

I understand that you worked at The Old Stocks Hotel prior to the project starting. How did these operational and guest insights impact the redesign?

It’s always beneficial to understand the market that you are based in and having relocated to the Cotswolds from the Midlands- for me, it was a fantastic opportunity to get to know the customer and clientele to the local area. One thing was clear- all customers wanted to experience the heritage of the old Cotswolds. They wanted to be inspired in some way and there is an opportunity on every level for that in the area. I was recruited off the strength of the design plans for the Inn and this enabled me to visualise how the new look would be in terms of operation, expectation and delivery for our guests. I wanted to ensure that the Inn felt like your home from home, relaxed, fun and quirky.

Therefore, I didn’t want the service to be stuffy or impersonal. I wanted the team to really engage with the customer, engage with the area and can recommend great days out, places to eat and drink and our guests to have a luxurious environment to relax in but aren’t afraid to kick off their shoes or really be themselves. I think we have that achieved now.

 

 

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