Thomas Hardy hotel in Dorchester reopens after revamp

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Kings Arms Hotel in DorchesterImage source, Stay Original
Image caption,
The hotel has undergone a £5m renovation

A hotel made famous by a Thomas Hardy novel has reopened after being shut for nearly five years.

The Kings Arms in Dorchester has undergone a £5m renovation despite a series of delays.

The Grade II listed building was due to be refurbished by new owners Stay Original in 2016 but the company was unable to start work until last year.

Managing director Rob Greacen said: "To say it's been a long and eventful journey would be an understatement."

The 300-year-old hotel, which featured in Hardy's novel The Mayor of Casterbridge, closed in November 2015 after going into receivership 10 months earlier under a previous owner.

Image source, Stay Original
Image caption,
Queen Victoria and King George IV are both said to have stayed at the hotel

Somerset-based Stay Original, previously known as Draco, planned to reopen it in early 2017 and initially blamed planning delays for the hold-up.

In 2018, the deterioration of the landmark building and historic properties nearby led Dorchester town councillor Stella Jones to express concern about their condition.

Work finally began in 2019 but was suspended again in March as a result of coronavirus restrictions.

Mr Greacen said: "It's been a challenging project, but worth the wait.

"The King's Arms means a lot of everyone in Dorchester and I'm hoping we can provide warmth to everyone again."

Previous guests at the hotel are said to have included Queen Victoria, King George IV, The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.

Stay Original, which is based in Pilton, owns four other pubs and hotels in Dorset, Somerset and Wiltshire.

Image caption,
Councillors previously raised concerns about the deterioration of the historic building

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