New owners promise to make iconic Kettering hotel a community hub
It's been bought in a £2.2m deal
Kettering's iconic Royal Hotel is under new ownership - and the firm that has the keys has promised to make it a hub for the community.
The Market Place hotel, which is steeped in history, has been bought by investment firm Paymán Investments in a £2.2m deal.
They're set to spend another £1m to restore it to its former glory with plans to re-open a restaurant, hold heritage weekends and open spaces for community events.
And the project is one that excites the firm's chief executive, entrepreneur Na’ím Anís Paymán, after they exchanged contracts last month.
He said: "The hotel has so much history and we are really keen to transform it into a community hub.
"We don't just see ourselves as the owners of the site, but as guardians who have been trusted to protect it for future generations."
The 42-bed hotel, once known as the White Hart, has changed hands multiple times since the turn of the century and has a chequered recent past.
One former owner became embroiled in a row with Kettering Council in 2019 after replacing window frames with PVC ones, despite its Grade II listed status.
It's also understood its electricity was disconnected earlier this year, with a number of historical items also being stolen from it.
But the hotel remains open and Paymán Investments say consultations are under way to sketch out a path to safeguarding it.
Plans include re-opening the bar and restaurant, although it's not known when this may happen, with a farm to fork policy and focus on quality produce. Paymán Investments are inviting expressions of interest in a tender process for it.
They also want to host events with a focus on physical, mental and social health as well as heritage weekends and cultural and educational events.
They have also confirmed they have no intention of re-opening a nightclub, formerly known as Bertie's, in the space underneath the hotel.
Instead, the space could open as medical offices and space for local artists and businesses.
Impact advisor Tahirih Danesh said: "This site is not only important historically but important to the community and we very much want to see it flourish.
"This hotel is a jewel and we want to see it sparkle for future generations."
The hotel was rebuilt in the Jacobean style in 1878 the Duke of Buccleuch, who sold it to brewers Pickering, Phipps and Co in 1896.
Charles Dickens, who was covering a by-election in 1835 as a Morning Chronicle reporter, once stayed there.
The hotel's name changed in 1844 when Queen Victoria stopped there on her way to Stamford - and the link with the Royal family was one that caught Mr Paymán's eye.
He said: "One of the biggest draws was that Queen Victoria had been there.
"That is very meaningful to me as I am of the Baháʼí faith and Baháʼu'lláh (a Persian religious leader) wrote a letter to her in the mid-19th century. She was the only one who came back to him out of all leaders with a positive message.
"We want to embrace the hotel's history and rejuvenate it to its former glory."
Paymán Investments are urging anyone with old pictures, documents or items relating to the hotel's history to come forward to help them preserve it.
Anyone with items, or who would like to express an interest in running the restaurant or help to revive the hotel, should contact [email protected]