Abode's Building of the week
St Giles House Hotel was never built for the purpose of entertaining guests. It was originally built as a Head Quarters for the London and Norwich Fire Insurance company between 1852-1856.
The building is a Grade II* listed building. It earns this accolade due to the 15th century undercroft in the cellar. The undercroft has faced flints on a visible wall, indicating that it was originally at street level during the 15th century. The original structure was rather ironically destroyed by a fire in 1900/1901.
The building was then constructed as we know it now by the renowned local architect George Skipper, who is also responsible for the designs of the iconic Royal Arcade and the Jarrolds building in Norwich.
The Walnut Suite
Norwich Union used the St Giles House building after George Skipper’s architectural plans were constructed. Towards the end of World War II however, it became regional to GPA and this is where the Walnut Suite was used. Using secret tunnels, government and military officials would negotiate underground tunnels from St Giles Church to the undercroft/cellar area in St Giles House. There they would hold meetings about wartimes affairs and discuss important affairs in the boardroom. These tunnels created a diversion as people would not suspect that these officials were doing anything but visiting the church for religious or social reasons.
The walnut suite is now in modern times a very popular wedding venue. The room officially has its very own ceremonial license and it isn’t hard to see why it is such a popular choice of venue once you walk inside.
The interior consists of wooden paneling, as the name suggests, walnut in material, with a decadent corniced ceiling. The room has a central masterpiece of a chandelier. The area has its very own Kitchen, Toilets and Private Use Bar, all self-contained within the suite. Not only this but there is access to a balcony that overlooks the beautiful city of Norwich itself.
The Hotel Transformation
As previously mentioned, St Giles House has had many purposes, including hosting insurance businesses and hosting secret meeting. In 2000, Lana and Carleton Selman transformed the building into the old office building into the boutique hotel, bistro and spa.
A lot of the wood paneling and white plasterwork seen throughout the hotel needed restoration and the building was left in a bad way when the couple first began. Many books were left behind, as well as paperwork, and the walls and ceilings were beginning to crumble.
The project took 5 years in total to finish and opened as a hotel in October, 2005. The whole project was made into short documentary offerings, showing the difficulties of the renovation.
The interior has a distinctive finish, with unique art deco and many original features; including the parquet flooring, geometric monochrome carpets, ornate coving, lavish antique furniture and of course stunning chandeliers.
The couple then sold the establishment in 2007 to Rachel Roofe. She took on the hotel and has spent the last 8 years building the excellent reputation and service standards that are so familiar today.
St Giles House Hotel also contains a beautiful, Parisian style outdoor terrace area, tucked away in the heart of Norwich. The bright golden walls, mixed with plenty of potted plants and flowers, give the terrace a summery, positive vibe all year round. The area is used for a classic British afternoon tea in the day time, whilst doubling as the perfect evening location to enjoy a cocktail with friends.
To carry on the cocktail theme, St Giles House also have a Cocktail Loyalty Club, in which they have scheme offering you a free cocktail for every 5 you buy. This runs from Sunday- Thursday, between 4pm- 8pm. Our favourite is the Strawberry-Lemon Mojito!
St Giles House Hotel also run regular promotions for their hotel accommodation and spa packages. Further details can be found at: http://stgileshousehotel.com/offers-seasonal-offers-at-st-giles-house-hotel/