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England's oldest hotel (in Malmesbury - who knew!?) sold on a "Whim"

7 April 2021
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The Old Bell Hotel, Malmesbury, believed to be England's oldest hotel, has been sold to American investors Whim Hospitality.

It sold off a guide price of £3.75 million.

Dating back to the middle ages, the 34-bedroom Grade I listed historic country hotel sits alongside the 12th Century Abbey in the ancient market town of Malmesbury. It recently underwent restoration.

Having been under family ownership for many years, North American company Whim Hospitality bought The Old Bell Hotel to capitalise on the growing staycation trend. The purchase marks the company's first entry into the UK hospitality market.

Matthew Smith, Partner in the Hotels team at Knight Frank, which sold the property, said: “Purported to be England’s oldest hotel it is no surprise The Old Bell Hotel attracted global interest. We are delighted for Whit and Kim Hanks of Whim Hospitality as they embark on their first UK hotel acquisition, with exciting times ahead as they have large-scale plans to reposition the business, and we are confident this will be a huge success under their stewardship. Given the strength of the staycation market, which is continuing to power the hotel market in 2021, interest in these types of distinctive assets remains high from a range of international and domestic investors.”

Whit Hanks, Co-Founder of Whim Hospitality, which is based in Austin, Texas, added: “We are thrilled to have the opportunity to bring our Whim Hospitality brand of welcoming hospitality to The Old Bell Hotel in the historic market town of Malmesbury, home of our Hanks family ancestors. We are looking forward to meeting our guests, members of the community, local artisans, businesses and entrepreneurs as we create a programme for The Old Bell Hotel to be an inclusive, engaging destination in Malmesbury.”


Nicky Godding is editor of The Business Magazine. Before her journalism career, she worked mainly in public relations moving into writing when she was invited to launch Retail Watch, a publication covering retail and real estate across Europe.

After some years of constant travelling, she tucked away her passport and concentrated on business writing, co-founding a successful regional business magazine. She has interviewed some of the UK’s most successful entrepreneurs who have built multi-million-pound businesses and reported on many science and technology firsts.

She reports on the region’s thriving business economy from start-ups, family businesses and multi-million-pound corporations, to the professionals that support their growth and the institutions that educate the next generation of business leaders.

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