A Coffee Break with the General Manager – What Does the Future Hold for The Royal Kings Arms Hotel?
The sun is shining, the cocktails are flowing, and the tables are full of laughter on this glorious Saturday afternoon in the Secret Garden at The Royal Kings Arms Hotel. We joined general manager, Bob Warrior, for a coffee break to talk about what the future holds for Lancaster’s favourite hotel.
From a summertime secret garden and a winter wonderland to the famous ballroom and boutique bedrooms, it looks like there are going to be some interesting changes happening over the next 18 months!
There have already been a lot of changes to The Royal Kings Arms over the last few years, what renovations have taken place since going under new ownership?
We took over the hotel in September 2016. Sadly, the building had been neglected over the years and needed a new lease of life. We began the refurbishment in October 2017, starting with the public areas. We found a superb interior designer who created the Brasserie and the Crypt as we see it today and re-designed the check-in area to reflect the warmth and charm of the hotel.
Unfortunately, covid has meant that we have had to hit pause on the renovation process, however, over the next 18 months, we are hoping to continue restoring this hotel to its former glory and beyond.
Will any of the new changes be taking place in the already refurbished areas of the hotel?
There are a lot of exciting changes that are going to be carried out throughout the renovation process. On the ground floor, we have the Brasserie which is currently serving lunch and dinner 7 days a week, however, now that Covid restrictions are easing, we will be introducing a new A La Carte menu.
The Brasserie is already popular for afternoon teas and candlelit dinners, so we wanted to expand the menu and offer something a little different.
Guests can enjoy food and drink outdoors at the back of the hotel, are there any plans to expand this garden area?
The canopy area has become incredibly popular with guests and locals, especially now that summer is here. Our plan is to turn this garden into a secret garden in the summer and perhaps even a winter wonderland during the colder months.
The canopy will continue throughout what is currently the staff car park and we will be introducing a pizza oven and an outdoor bar area too. We want to add more flowers and string lights to create a warm and relaxing atmosphere.
In the future, we are also looking to build some pods which will be available to hire for parties or events. These will be heated in the evening, include WIFI and each will have their own speakers so that guests can play their own music! The idea is to create a relaxing space in the city centre, with grass, flowers and of course, cocktails!
We are even talking about introducing a Japanese water garden, perhaps including water features. It will be a beautiful setting for photographs, especially for the many wedding receptions that are held in the hotel’s ballroom.
About the ballroom, are there any changes that will be made there? I hope you will be keeping the amazing ‘Titanic Chandelier’?
The Titanic chandelier will certainly be staying! The ballroom is going to have new wallpaper panels and full-length mirrors across one wall, which is going to look superb. We will put up new curtains to frame the stained-glass windows which are getting repaired within the next few weeks.
You can see the ballroom as you walk up Market Street towards the hotel and it has always invoked a sense of mystery and magic with the locals. We want to give it the wow factor from the exterior to the interior.
The historic lift has always been a talking point of the hotel. Some people adore it and others are a little wary about stepping inside. Will this remain a permanent feature?
We love the lift. We actually found out just the other week exactly how old it is! The lift was installed way back in the 1920s! There has of course, since been modernisation on things like the gearing for safety but the cage and the carriage itself are both 100 years old!
Unfortunately, the lift is not big enough for wheelchair access and we want to make the hotel welcoming for everybody. We are currently trying to find the best way to expand and modernise the lift while retaining its character and history, but we will be sad to see it go!
Since The Royal Kings Arms is now a boutique hotel, what do you have in store for the bedrooms?
The bedrooms here have some of the most stunning views of the city that Lancaster has to offer. We want to make each room as special and unique as the view from the window. We will be working closely with interior designers to have two or three different designs so that each time you stay here, you will be in a different room with a different style or theme to it.
This leaves our regular guests the option to request any room that they happen to fall in love with, however, after looking through the mood boards, I think it will be a difficult choice.
What will be the first step within the renovation process?
Well, within the next few weeks scaffolding will be going up on the outside of the building and we will begin rendering and repointing before we start to repair the traditional stained-glass windows towards the back of the hotel and the ballroom. We are then hoping to begin renovations in the other 50 rooms. We want to keep the character of the building but give it a new lease of life.
Aside from the renovation, is there anything else exciting happening at The Royal Kings Arms Hotel this year?
Yes! We will be taking part in Lancaster Music Festival once again in October this year which we are so happy to have back at the hotel. We love having live music here when we can as it has always been a part of the hotel’s history, especially in the Crypt. There will also be various events throughout the year to look forward to. From wedding fairs to ghost tours!