In 2018, two landmark Oxford hotels were acquired by IHG Hotels & Resorts and selected for major refurbishments to bring them in line with a rebranding of IHG’s voco Hotels brand. HLM Architects was involved with each project from the onset, helping to develop and design the renovation works to create two new landmark retreats only a stone’s throw from Oxford’s city centre.
“The requirements of the voco brand proved essential in developing and delivering the scheme”
The first, voco Oxford Spires, is a luxury, rural retreat set within the historic grounds of the 16th century farmhouse Eastwyke House, which is now also part of the hotel. The 186-room venue underwent its transformation in 2019, with much of the works focusing on the guestrooms – with over half being fully renovated, including the bathrooms.
Nearby voco Oxford Thames is located on the banks of the River Thames and is also a short distance from the city centre. The renovations at the 104-room hotel were designed to reflect the quiet and peaceful location as well as complement the historic buildings on the grounds. The project saw a historic barn, which serves as the hotel reception, featuring a bar, and College Hall upgraded to be in line with the new voco branding, including adding contemporary overnight-stay facilities.
For both projects, the majority of the works focused on ensuring that the new voco branding was applied consistently throughout in order to maximise the guest experience. One of the main challenges for the design team was the installation of air conditioning units given the constraints of the historic buildings. Signature voco colours of blue and yellow were used throughout the guestrooms, = communal and reception areas. The hotels now offer a rich mix of contemporary and period luxury, with artwork on display to complement the historic fixtures and fittings.
HLM Architects worked closely with M&E Engineers and the rest of the project team, as well as hotel staff, to ensure disruption was minimised for guests as both hotels remained open throughout the works. A complex phasing scheme was implemented to enable the hotel to function at near-full capacity, ensuring guest and staff safety without adversely affecting the high occupancy rate.
Jamie Wilson, Director, HLM Architects, said: “This was a project where a strong and thorough understanding of the requirements of the voco brand proved essential in developing and delivering the scheme. The result is two signature hotels that are true to voco’s brand values, with dependable and distinctive features where all visitors can enjoy and relax in stunning surroundings.”