Former Oundle School pupil's £5m hotel transformation plan will create 'quintessential English country inn'
A former Oundle School boy has unveiled his £5 million plan to create the quintessential English country inn located in the heart of Oakham.
Ryck Turner, 54, who lives in Whissendine, bought the Whipper-In hotel and a number of neighbouring buildings in Market Place in the town for over £3 million last year.
Now he aims to spend a further £2 million extending, refurbishing and reshaping the inn.
Ryck’s grand design for the 17th Century Grade II listed building, which used to be called The George Hotel, includes creating a new restaurant to replace the current dining room, with the kitchen being doubled in size. The new dining room, which will face out onto the Market Place, will have a guests-only cocktail bar and an exclusive private dining room and lounge on the floor above.
He also plans to convert the coach house at the back of the property into a unit with bedrooms, a 15-seater private cinema, a gym and spa featuring a treatment salon, a sauna and a jacuzzi.
The masterplan for the new hotel, which is to be renamed The George Inn, will see the business run 18 bedrooms.
As well as the Whipper-In, Ryck also acquired the building which housed the Rutland Chinese Restaurant, the building currently occupied by Curtis bakery and the building where the Cancer Research UK shop is trading.
Ryck, who moved to Rutland five years ago, said: “I drove past the hotel in the spring of 2022, loved the look of it and thought the location was perfect. Within a few weeks I had paid £3 million for the hotel and the three buildings along the row.
“When I was a schoolboy at Oundle School I used to go for lazy Sunday lunches with my parents at The George Hotel in nearby Stamford and I thought that was heaven on earth. It was all so relaxed and convivial and we could just sit there playing cards and board games.
“To me that was the quintessential English country inn and that is what I want recreate here in Oakham. I saw the Whipper-In and thought: ’This can be my George Hotel’. That is when I set myself the challenge to make that happen.”
Ryck joined his family business, which was started as a wholesale and retail newsagents in Sheffield in 1891 by his great great grandfather Harry Turner, almost 30 years ago. The business evolved over the years moving into commercial property, crisp manufacturing and pet food manufacturing.
While continuing to manage the family property portfolio, Ryck has also created his own commercial property investment business.
The first thing Ryck did after buying the Whipper-In was to spend a year refurbishing and re-engineering many aspects of the hotel while keeping it open and running.
“The hotel needed a lot of TLC,” said Ryck. “So, I have spent the first 12 months having the place largely redecorated and redressed and certain aspects, including a new cellar cooling system in the bar, updated and refurbished. This process, which included bringing in new furniture, has enabled us to stay open and to continue to welcome guests while improving the customer experience.”
Ryck plans to tackle the future renovation, redesign and expansion of the hotel in phases.
“As things stand, the first phase will be to transform the old coach house at the back of the hotel near Burley Road into a fabulous new area which will feature bedrooms, a 15-seater private cinema, a gym and spa, featuring a treatment salon, a sauna and a jacuzzi,” he said. “The idea behind this is that guests seeking peace and quiet can arrive here, and if they want to, enjoy a relaxing stay without having to leave the hotel as we will provide all the facilities they want.
“The hotel is ideally placed in the heart of the town. Some bedrooms have a wonderful view of the Market Place with Oakham School and Oakham Castle just yards away and the spire of All Saints Church in the background. Other bedrooms feature the original oak beams and some look out onto the courtyard garden.
“My dream is to have this hotel providing guests with a fantastic customer experience through a combination of a convivial atmosphere, first-class service and top-quality food.
“I am big believer that things happen for a reason. I think it is fate that I identified this place as perfect to create my own version of the George Hotel not knowing that it used to share the same namel. Now all I have to do is create a coaching inn that befits that name.”