Poets House Ely

This Grade II listed building overlooks Ely Cathedral and was once the offices of Sanctuary Housing.  We successfully helped our client transform this into a wonderful boutique hotel.


Our brief was to accommodate as many en-suite bedroom suites as possible into the existing building, sitting alongside a catering kitchen, dining room and function room for weddings and parties. A “destination” bar was also envisaged, open to passing trade.

Key Challenges and Successes

  • The Grade II listed property presented many challenges in terms of both achieving a cost-effective design, and presenting restrictions on acceptable routes for drainage and services in order to satisfy the Conservation Officer. 

  • Being located within the middle of Ely, surrounded by residential properties, there were many concerns raised by Environmental Health relating to noise generation which we assisted in resolving alongside an acoustician.

Procurement Route

Negotated contract.

Service Provided

Concept designs, securing planning permission and listed building consent, discharge of planning conditions, building regulation approval, through to providing a working drawing package and guidance on site.

Design Process

The design solution evolved through attempting to keep as many of the larger rooms in tact, so that the original details such as covings and skirtings could be retained. The front of the existing building was reserved for bedroom suites to take full advantage of cathedral views.  It was also important to separate as far as possible the noisy bar, kitchen, function room and dining room areas from the bedroom suites.  

In order to achieve the highest possible room ratings, each hotel room required a luxurious en-suite with walk in shower and separate bath. Copper baths were employed, many sited within the bedroom space itself to convey the feeling of decadence.

A single storey contemporary extension was designed to sit alongside the original building, to house the main bar area. A ribbon of glazing was introduced between the new and existing to provide the lightest of touches at this junction. The original brickwork has been left exposed, creating a dramatic effect with light filtering down from the ribbon of glazing.

Seen by many as an important building block in the development of Ely’s grand master plan, we are proud to have been part of this development and enjoy taking our clients to the bar area for business lunches.

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