Cornwall’s newest luxury hotel is looking forward to a first full year of trading after its launch year was reduced to a few months because of the Covid pandemic.
Bodmin Jail Hotel opened to guests following a £55 million investment to transform the ruined prison into a 21st-century luxury hotel on May 17.
The high-end hotel in Bodmin, which has 70 rooms, each made up of three former prison cells, and 80 covers at its fine-dining restaurant as well as in the Jolly Hangman Tavern where it serves bistro-style food, has been trying to find its feet since.
While owned by Mallino Development Ltd, which transformed the derelict Bodmin Jail into the luxury boutique hotel, the hotel was first operated by specialist management company Interstate Hotels but has been run independently since October, complete with a new management team and a chef recruited from The Headland hotel in Newquay.
Philip Warden, the new manager at the Bodmin Jail Hotel, which employs about 75 staff, said: “It’s like being given a £55m toy to play with. It’s brand new but it’s 300 years old too.”
While the hotel was fully booked from the moment it opened for trading until the beginning of December, the new team in charge is hoping 2022 will be the real start to its success story.
A spokeswoman for the hotel said the first few months of operation had been a way for the hotel to find its true market.
So far visitors have been everyone from local Bodmin residents wanting to have a look inside and enjoy a bite to eat holidaymakers, families and dog owners wanting to try something new.
She said a large number of visitors had been from London and the South East, with many of them returning to Cornwall for a holiday but keen to experience something different. There have also been a lot of day-trippers and weekend visitors coming from Plymouth or Exeter.
“The hotel has definitely been a ‘wow’ for everyone walking through the doors,” the spokeswoman said. “No one really expects what they see inside.
“For us, it’s important to continue to develop this wow factor and become a flagship for the whole of Bodmin and Cornwall too.
“We know we can’t compete with seaside hotels because we’re not by the sea but we are certainly unique. We have a unique building where visitors actually stay inside former prison cells but in complete luxury. There is so much heritage and history here which is fascinating.
“We’re at the start of the Camel Trail and we’re looking to work even more closely with the Bodmin Jail attraction next door on joint packages for visitors, which makes total sense, and on bespoke tours for our staying visitors.”
The hotel’s spokeswoman said the team was keen to champion Cornwall as a whole, with packages for visitors who want to use the well-located town of Bodmin as their base but are keen to explore Cornwall, whether it is the Eden Project, St Michael’s Mount or Padstow down the road.
“Our focus is 2022,” she said. “It will be our first full year of trading and we feel it will be our true launch year.
“Hopefully our plans for a swimming pool and spa will be approved so we can start work next year. That will be a game-changer for us as we will then be able to compete with the seaside hotels who all have swimming pools and spa.
“It will open up our customer market with visitors interested in a unique hotel that’s full of history and heritage and offers the luxury they expect.
“Last year was a year of uncertainties and questions. We all hope 2022 will be a more stable and enjoyable year for everyone.”
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