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Seventeenth century smugglers’ hotel reinvigorated for guests and locals alike

Dexter Moren Associates (DMA) has received planning permission to refurbish and extend the seventeenth century Old Ship Hotel into a boutique lifestyle hotel in sync with Brighton’s cosmopolitan and bohemian vibe. DMA’s design to unify the various buildings of the existing hotel will increase room numbers from 152 to 206, as well as improving the hotel’s food and beverage offers and conference facilities.

Complete with smugglers’ tunnels and having played host to William Makepeace Thackeray and Charles Dickens, the once fashionable Old Ship Hotel still occupies one of the best sites in the city, at the point where two of Brighton’s greatest assets, The Lanes and The Seafront, meet. Working on behalf of client Cairn Group, DMA has designed a series of extensions that will integrate, internally and externally, the group of historic buildings forming the current hotel, improving front of house and back of house services without detriment to its massing and its aesthetics.

The design also reconfigures the internal courtyard to create a swimming pool area with a glazed retractable roof and leisure facilities including a health club. Changes to the ground floor will provide a new retail frontage with four units. Internally the hotel design will respond more to the essence of Brighton’s contemporary art scene, with meeting and conference facilities, including the Grade II* Listed Adam style Assembly Rooms, being repaired and repurposed to provide quality spaces for leisure and business guests.

Explains Javier Ortega, Senior Architect at DMA: “The Old Ship Hotel will be revitalised to what is envisaged to be Brighton’s top Boutique Lifestyle Hotel, enlivening the street and providing a more experiential interface between locals and visitors. Over the past few years Boutique Lifestyle Hotels have emerged as a result of hotels interacting more with their location, rather than just serving hotel guests. At DMA, we’ve seen a shift in both the design and operation of food and beverage components, as hoteliers realise that additional revenue can be driven from creating facilities for neighbouring residents as well as guests.”