England’s oldest hotel sold to US investors

UK: The Old Bell Hotel in Wiltshire has been sold by Knight Frank to American investors Whim Hospitality, selling off a guide price of £3.75 million.

Dating back to the Middle Ages, the 340bedroom Grade I-listed property is located in Malmesbury next to the 12th Century Abbey. The acquisition by Whim Hospitality marks the company’s first entrance into the UK market.

The Old Bell recently underwent restoration, with some original features retained such as a fireplace dating back to 1220.

With a public restaurant, bar, as well as options for private dining, the hotel is also fully licensed for indoor and outdoor civil ceremonies. It can cater 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.”

Notable historical figures from Malmesbury include the first king of all England, King Athelstan who reigned from 925 to 940; William of Malmesbury the first English historian; and Thomas Hobbes, considered the founder of modern political philosophy.

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