Experimental Group to shake things up in the Cotswolds

The Paris-based Experimental Group, owner of the Henrietta Hotel in Covent Garden, has acquired Cowley Manor spa-hotel in the Cotswolds – the group’s first UK property outside London.

Local chef Dominic Hargreaves has been appointed with a brief to introduce an innovative menu for the restaurant and open-air cooking during the summer, while Experimental – which made its name with cocktail bars in Paris – will work with local distilleries and breweries to beef up the hotel’s drinks and appoint a sommelier to improve its wine list.

The Italianate manor house near Cheltenham – modelled on the Villa Borghese in Rome – has 55 acres of Grade II listed gardens and was largely built by the hot-drinks magnate Sir James Horlick. The Rev Charles Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll, was a regular visitor and was reputed to have written Alice in Wonderland here.

The property was restored from 1999 by Jessica and Peter Frankopan, founders of A Curious Group of Hotels. Experimental’s purchase price has not been revealed, but the group announced plans earlier this year to acquire four or five hotels following £292 million cash injection.

The Experimental Group was founded in 2007 by childhood friends Olivier Bon, Pierre-Charles Cros and Romée de Goriainoff. They now operate cocktail and wine bars, restaurants, beach clubs and hotels from New York to Venice, including the Experimental Cocktail Club in London’s Chinatown and Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels wine bar in Seven Dials.

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