Studley Castle Leisure Hotel, Warwickshire

Leisure reimagined 

BAM has helped to rescue a crumbling gothic revival castle, turning it into a modern but quirky hotel with outstanding leisure facilities.

The Grade II* listed Studley Castle, in the leafy heart of the Warwickshire countryside, has been through many changes in its almost two hundred year history. Its latest incarnation is as a flagship luxury hotel and spa for the Warner Leisure brand. 

The BAM team helped to breathe new life into the partially derelict castle, delivering a stunning renovation of the existing gothic revival building, remodelling the stable block and creating a sympathetic yet ultra-modern three-storey new structure to link the two.

Project details

  • Customer: Bourne Leisure Ltd 
  • Contractor: BAM Construction
  • Architect: PWP Architects
  • Quantity Surveyor: McGee Associates
  • Project Management: Reach Project Management
  • Structural Engineer: AECOM
  • Services Engineer: Compass Energy Consulting Engineers

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224 Fact icon bedrooms across the resort
250 Fact icon tonnes of steel used in the refurbishment
5,290m2 Fact icon carpets custom made for the hotel
The history of Studley Castle is a chronicle of changing times and entrepreneurship. Originally completed in 1836 by the High Sheriff of Warwickshire as a family home, the ‘Castle’ never actually served as a fortification. 

In the early 20th century, it was briefly transformed into the Studley Agricultural College for Women, to train the daughters of the gentry. Then the Castle was requisitioned by the government as a training camp for the Women’s Land Army during the First and Second World Wars. 

A reflection of changing times, after 60 years as a women’s only college it served as offices and a conference centre in the 1980s and 90s. In 2006 it was converted again, this time into a country house hotel. But by March 2016, the hotel had closed. 

By this time the buildings were in a sad state. Masonry on the Castle was crumbling, the roof was in a poor condition, there was asbestos to contend with and the large stable block was virtually derelict.

Rescue mission

Despite its problems, it was still an impressive building surrounded by stunning, mature parkland. Recognising its potential, it was soon bought by family-owned Bourne Leisure, which trades as Warner Leisure Hotels. 

In 2017, BAM was appointed as the main contractor for an ambitious but sensitive programme to transform the Castle into a stunning leisure resort. 

Enabling works included a major programme of asbestos removal. BAM also demolished a four-storey extension built in the 1930s. 

The original 19th century Castle needed extensive strengthening and a completely new roof, which BAM constructed using traditional methods, closely overseen by English Heritage.

BAM made major efforts to save the badly damaged external brickwork on the main building. Where new outer facings were unavoidable, the stone was carefully matched to the original material. Specialist lime render contractors replaced and restored period features. 

Luxury for a modern age

Inside the main Castle building, the bedrooms and suites have been transformed into luxurious havens, each individually decorated.

BAM also converted the late 19th Century stable block into a health spa, with a luxury swimming pool and café, as well as 23 bedrooms. 

At the heart of this building, BAM oversaw the installation of a spectacular glass roof and walls. Specialist contractors were brought in to make sure that the specification for the structural steel supporting the glass was suitable for the chlorinated environment of the swimming pool area. 

The Warner Leisure model is focused on entertainment and relaxation, in an adults-only environment. So BAM’s work on the complex included creating a 30-seat private cinema within the old Castle, as well as new archery and air rifle ranges in the grounds.

Between the two older buildings, BAM built a new three-storey block, with 161 family and double bedrooms as well as a dining and entertainment complex designed to host over 400 guests: one of the largest live performance spaces in the UK hotel market. In the evening, huge chandeliers hidden in the roof voids are lowered by electric winches to create the perfect cabaret atmosphere.

Blending old with new

The outside of the new complex sensitively reflects its much older neighbours, thanks to carefully chosen external cladding that echoes the colours of the older bricks and stones. A living wall provides a lush facade to the theatre/conference hall and a green roof helps to lessen the visual impact of the block.

Using a timber frame help to speed up construction work on the new block. Energy and thermal efficiency were key concerns, both in the refurbished buildings and the new complex.

In the 28 acre estate surrounding the Castle, BAM completed major hard and soft landscaping work, and built a large new car park.

The result of all this hard work is a stunning and sympathetic restoration that has turned a quirky folly into a desirable destination.