THE Imperial Hotel in Henley could finally re-open next year. The 20-bedroom hotel in Station Road, which closed in 2006, is currently being refurbished.
Owner Dr Raymond Crockett, who lives in Remenham, said: “We’re not recreating an old-fashioned hotel. It will have facilities equal to the best hotel in the world.”
He said there was still a lot of work to be done, such as installing central heating, before a re-opening date could be set.
He said: “People always ask me outside the hotel ‘when will it be open?’ but they all get the same answer of ‘how long is a piece of string?’
“This isn’t an easy reconstruction of a hotel, it’s a very old place. There are certain things in the hotel that are virtually finished but a few areas that aren’t.”
There will be a new restaurant in an orangery at the back of the building and a new modern bar area in the former premises of Talbot Taxis. Town centre manager Pete McConnell, who has been given a tour of the building, said about 60 per cent of the work had been completed.
He said: “It would be great if it did open by Easter and for their purposes for the regatta and Henley Festival when you are guaranteed to fill every room.
“When it’s finished it’s going to be fantastic and a real benefit to the town’s accommodation.
“The views from upstairs are lovely. People from out of town will be flocking to it for business, weddings and parties.”
Mr McConnell said there was not enough accommodation in the town and he had raised the issue with South Oxfordshire District Council.
Before the Imperial closed, Michelin-starred chef Simon Rogan tried to buy it and planned to convert it into a restaurant and champagne bar but the deal fell through.