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Nestled in the Cotswolds... The Heythrop Park Hotel by DesignLSM


heythrop park hotel
Nestled in the Cotswolds... The Heythrop Park Hotel by DesignLSM
Clara Carlino de Paz
January 11, 2024

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Heythrop Park Hotel, a breathtaking Grade II* listed property nestled within 440 acres of picturesque parkland in the enchanting Cotswolds, has reopened its doors after an extensive and transformative renovation. Spearheaded by the award-winning design agency DesignLSM, the project aimed not only to revitalise the property but also to redefine the guest experience by focusing on relaxation, exploration, and entertainment. 

Today, we have brought in the incredible team at DesignLSM to give us a little more insight into what it takes to take on such an incredible project (and what we can all learn from it).

The Heythrop Park Hotel by DesignLSM

In conversation with DesignLSM

Thank you for sitting down with me. Could you walk me through DesignLSM’s history and ethos?

Back in 1988, Steve LaBouchardiere and Simon McCarthy founded DesignLSM, a culmination of shared passion for crafting inspiring hospitality spaces. From our head office in the UK, and with extended arms in Dubai and Europe, we've honed our expertise in Strategy, Branding, Architecture, and Interior Design, serving a broad and esteemed list of clients within the hospitality realm.

Our international reach, with contributions spanning the UK, Europe, Asia, the Middle East, USA, Caribbean, and Africa, stands testament to our global acclaim. Our talented team, supported by an adept board of directors and a wide network of suppliers, contractors, and craftsmen, consistently delivers spaces that captivate, operate seamlessly, and drive commercial success. Our clients are Accor, D&D London, Galvin Restaurants, Gaucho, Harrods, The Ritz Carlton, Hilton, Marriot, Searcys, Rhubarb Hospitality Collection and The Alchemist.

With over 35 years, we proudly strive to create exceptional environments that push the boundaries of design that are recognised and valued by our clients and peers, strategically creating brands, experiences and spaces that deliver operational efficiencies, engaging environments and commercial success. 

How would you describe the DesignLSM’s style?

We take immense pride in not adhering to a specific 'house style.' Instead, as a strategic design agency, our approach is rooted in understanding our client’s unique concept and vision. We collaborate closely with them to craft a space that not only embodies their aesthetic ambitions, but also is tailor-made to meet their needs and those of their guests, ensuring that the design aligns with the client’s brand, serves their commercial and operational purposes, and meets their marketing and PR objectives. The spaces we create are intended to flow and operate seamlessly, captivate, and forge a deep emotional connection with guests, delivering an authentic reflection of the brand and its audience, rather than a signature style of our own.

The Heythrop Park Hotel by DesignLSM

What does the DesignLSM’s “process” look like?

We start every project with a strategic workshop to gain a thorough understanding of the brand, identifying intended guests, the locality of the site, the commercial and operational objectives, and ambitions for the project from an aesthetic and guest experience perspective. This strategic focus influences how we design, defining the intent and ambience for the space. Each design we work on has the aim to holistically resonate with guests across all senses, creating a seamless and memorable experience that is intelligently creative.

Our process is a collaborative journey focused on translating client visions into compelling spaces. Following the workshop, we execute a thorough briefing and research phase, working our way through the RIBA 0-7 stages for the design process. We start by writing a design narrative, forming the ‘hook’ or story for our concept which is then developed into design pillars – a captivating set of key words that form the basis of the design that we refer back to throughout the process. Considered master planning is crucial to ensure that the space will operate effectively, before developing the mood boards which define the look and feel for the concept. Our well-established set of skills enable us to progress with the design development and technical production of the concept, delivering a comprehensive construction package to provide the appointed contractor, along with offering a hands-on approach during the construction phase, ensuring a timely and budget-conscious delivery on-site and seamless handover. Emphasizing creativity and functionality, our process aims to deliver award-winning unique and impactful spaces that align with our clients' objectives.

The Heythrop Park Hotel by DesignLSM

What learnings could you share about doing projects in older estates like the Heythrop Park Hotel’s manor house?

Undertaking projects in historic estates, such as Heythrop Park Hotel, involves unique challenges and opportunities. One key learning is the paramount importance of thorough historical research. Understanding the architectural heritage, listed restraints, original materials, and design intent is crucial for preserving the integrity of the space.

Integrating modern functionalities or aesthetics, while respecting the historical context demands a delicate balance. It often involves collaboration with preservation experts to ensure that renovations align with listed building and heritage standards.

Navigating structural complexities and potential surprises, like hidden issues or infrastructure complications, requires an experienced team. Regulatory compliance in heritage sites necessitates a nuanced approach, collaborating with local authorities and adhering to preservation guidelines, which are both vital. Effective communication with the appointed skilled consultants and client is essential in order to carry out the crucial processes, managing expectations and ensuring a smooth project flow. This enables us to deliver designs that inject new life and energy whilst showcasing the beautiful original features and architecture of a heritage property. 

The Heythrop Park Hotel by DesignLSM

What three products on Portaire could be part of the DesignLSM edit?

The organically shaped doorknob’s beauty lies not only in its form but also in how it comfortably moulds the palm of your hand. Created by Croft and available on Portaire, this could be well-integrated into a hotel bedroom design for example, giving a softer, more homely touch. 

A gold door knob on a white wallDescription automatically generated

Turnstyle Designs door handle’s modern and chic texture adds great personality, making it a stylish addition to any space – merging aesthetics and tactility with functional excellence.


Also by Turnstyle Designs, the quality leather is simple yet effective, and the stitching details deliver a classic aesthetic and timeless design. Meanwhile, the polished brass brings a feminine touch and an essence of elegance.


Meeting the old, the new and the brilliant

Holly Hallam, Managing Director at DesignLSM, expressed her excitement about the project, stating, "Projects like this don't come around very often, and to be a part of one on such a vast scale has been incredibly exciting for both myself and the DesignLSM team."

The renovation, which seamlessly blends the charm of an 18th-century manor house with a contemporary extension, has brought about a cohesive and engaging aesthetic that permeates every corner of the estate. The Orangery, six lounges, three restaurants, two bars, a ballroom, and a state-of-the-art theatre have all undergone a meticulous redesign under the creative direction of DesignLSM.

The Heythrop Park Hotel by DesignLSM

The project paid homage to the history of Heythrop Park, originally built for the 1st Duke of Shrewsbury in 1706-1711. The transformation drew inspiration from the estate's previous owners and inhabitants, incorporating elements from the Duke's Grand Tour and other exciting adventures. Each space within the hotel now boasts a unique design identity, encouraging guests on a journey of discovery and exploration.

The Heythrop Park Hotel by DesignLSM

A key design directive was to retain the beautiful architecture while bringing the estate into the modern era for today's travellers. The Churchill, Bladon, and Blenheim rooms, a trio of lounges within the listed house, showcase a tasteful fusion of traditional train carriage detailing with warm velvets, opulent furnishings, and original artwork depicting movement.

The Heythrop Park Hotel by DesignLSM

Extensions and building new beauty

The Market Kitchen, the largest of the three restaurants located within the extension, takes inspiration from a traditional kitchen garden. A calming colour palette, citrus-patterned upholstered chairs, and floral wallpaper create a bright and refreshing dining experience. 

The Heythrop Park Hotel by DesignLSM
The Heythrop Park Hotel by DesignLSM

The Brassey Bar, situated in the extension, reflects the history of Thomas Brassey, a former owner known for creating most of the world's railways in the 19th century. Industrial forms, patterns, and materials tell his story through dramatic beamed structures, metal detailing, and bespoke artwork.

The Heythrop Park Hotel by DesignLSM

In a contrasting approach, the Warwick Wing Theatre in the hotel's extension introduces a contemporary touch of glamour and decadence to the evening offering. Dazzling arched lights and theatrical 'Show Time' neon features set the stage for live music and cinematic performances, promising guests an unforgettable experience.

The Heythrop Park Hotel by DesignLSM

The Late Bar and Lounge, located nearby, exudes opulence with its use of rich tones, delicate patterns, and dazzling lights. This space provides the perfect backdrop for a dynamic evening ambiance, offering guests a luxurious setting to relax and unwind.

The Heythrop Park Hotel by DesignLSM

The beautiful lighting used throughout the key public areas, including the Orangery, Market Kitchen, Brassey Bar & Theatre, was thoughtfully brought to life by the incredible Northern Lights (available on Portaire). They have a dazzling portfolio of Grade II listed properties – where the key is in understanding the environment, restrictions, being sympathetic to the buildings & their heritage, and working closely with the designers to bring the whole lighting scheme to life.

We asked Michael Jackson, Head of Design at Northern Lights, what an experience like that was like for the company. "We revelled in the challenge of bringing the dazzling theatre lights to life to create buzz and excitement in the immersive space.  The metal archway lights cut an imposing figure due to their sheer size.  We were able to work on every component and fitting in-house due to all our capabilities being under one roof, and our large 38,000 square foot facility where our artisans make the magic happen and bring concepts from design to reality.  There are very few suppliers that would have the sheer space and capabilities to bring such giant lighting installations to life."

Heythrop Park's renovation, a testament to the beauty of design, successfully navigates the delicate balance between preserving historical roots and propelling the property into a new era of enjoyment and adventure for guests. Holly Hallam and the DesignLSM team have left an indelible mark on Heythrop Park, ensuring its legacy for many years to come.

The Heythrop Park Hotel by DesignLSM