Back in 2011 we were just three guys – Rob, Pat and James – who bought a Somerset pub, like you do. And now we’re 160 people (and counting), all hands to the mast.
Stay Original Co began life with The Swan in Wedmore. We bought a semi-derelict pub dying on its feet and completely rebuilt it to become an award-winning coaching inn appealing to locals and incomers alike. What is our formula? Well it’s something like:
local character + authentic style + serious service + great food + glorious drinks = Stay Original
That said, each of our coaching inns – we have five – is unique. Our only economy of scale is a company-wide obsession with excellence. Each property has its own character. Stay Original Co doesn’t do familiar furnishings and fittings across all establishments. Each place, even each super-stylish bedroom in each place, is wholly uncommon! Our food and drink offerings are distinctive too. Walk into to any of our hotels or pubs and you will see we champion hyper-local produce. A cider on tap in Wedmore won’t be available in Somerton, 10 miles away, worlds apart to those who know their apples.
The success of The Swan spurred us on in the direction of The White Hart in Somerton, a neglected little jewel in need of a serious facelift and a serious budget. It’s now a multiple award-winner, loved by regulars and weekenders, its bar typically as busy as the Pyramid Stage on the last Sunday in June.
Our third project, Timbrell’s Yard in Bradford on Avon, opened in March 2015. This former riverside pub has 17 rooms, a sumptuous bar, plus a 100-cover restaurant and a club room for private parties. Within six months of opening, Timbrell’s Yard made it into the Sunday Times Ultimate 100 British Hotels.
In November 2015 we acquired our fourth and biggest hotel to date, The King’s Arms in Dorchester, a regal building on the high street. It’s currently enjoying the Stay Original Co treatment so that when it opens in 2018, Thomas Hardy, and his fictional creations who frequented it, would certainly recognise it, but they’d be stunned by what they’d see.
The Grosvenor Arms in Shaftesbury came on board in 2016. Unlike our other pubs and hotels, this did not require complete refurbishment. With 16 stylish bedrooms, a buzzing bar and a large restaurant, it has seamlessly slotted into our portfolio.
Now building nice pubs and hotels was the easy bit. For us, our biggest achievement has been building a fantastic team, something that has been really important right from the beginning. ‘Stay Original’ applies not only to our buildings but also our people and we believe we have a tightly knit and highly professional bunch of characters running some amazing properties – many who have joined in junior positions and risen smoothly to the top.