There have been changes afoot at one of Oakham’s iconic former hunting lodges recently, starting with its name.
New owners Chris Newsham and Kristy Carey moved into The Old Wisteria in Oakham, Rutland, earlier this summer and have grand plans to restore and revive the hotel to make it more appealing to people living in and visiting the town, starting with the bar and restaurant areas.
The couple has brought in local chef Neil Hornsby, formerly of The Barn Restaurant in Burley Road, Oakham, to lead the kitchen and they have already rebranded the bar and restaurant as Hunters Bar and Kitchen, based on its heritage as a 16th century hunting lodge.
“The first time we saw the hotel, we knew there was so much potential, but it wasn’t open for Rutland residents or visitors to enjoy. In fact, the only entrance was around the side of the building, so later this Summer, after we’ve done a bit of work to the entrance, we will be opening the front doors to the bar for the first time in years,” Chris told Essential Journeys.
The rebranding has not stopped there. Chris and Kristy have dropped the word ‘old’ from the name of the hotel, instead branding it as The Wisteria Hotel.
Kristy explains: “We are keen to keep the traditional elements of the hotel, and its beautiful wisteria which drapes around the building is one of the first things most people see when they drive into Oakham in the Summer. We want to bring other elements up to date, so are creating a respectfully contemporary feel to the hotel. While we’re still determined to maintain its wonderful reputation and continue to welcome our regular guests to our 25-bedroom hotel, we also want the local community and new visitors to the area to see it as a place to eat, drink, stay and relax.”
The bar area dates back to the early 17th century and part of the original locally quarried stone building can be seen among the low wooden beams and snug areas. Chris and Kristy plan to put in new flooring and update the snug and bar, serving local products such as Grainstore Brewery ales and Two Chimps coffee.
Once the front door to Catmos Street has been opened, they will be open all day; from morning coffees to a relaxing evening dinner.
Bookings are already being taken for Hunters Bar and Kitchen, and the menu includes local wild boar and apple sausages as well as chicken, stilton and leek shortcrust pie and a venison burger.
Chef Neil is excited about taking on the kitchen, and told EJ that the menu would celebrate the best in local ingredients, supporting farmers, growers and independent suppliers.
www.wisteriahotel.co.uk or call 01572 722844