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Von Essen Hotels 5 Ltd v Vaughan & Anor

Private homes for house parties. Cosy inns for autumn. Hotels in English national parks.

He was a businessman. To be fair to him, it's very difficult to run a group like that, even for an inspired hotelier — and that he wasn't. Davis's style may have been brash and he may have ruffled many feathers, but it is generally acknowledged that he invested millions in the hotels he bought.

Sophie Campbell ponders the fate of the prestigious properties of the von Essen group.

The question is, should anyone be able to accumulate such a quantity of our built heritage? And who is going to get their hands on the properties now? Regarding the former, little can be done, especially with no public money to spare. Duncan McCallum, the national advice director for English Heritage, says its only concern is that the buildings are not neglected in any way. This won't happen, because — as the National Trust, which owns both Cliveden and Ickworth, leasing them to von Essen, points out — it is the holding company, not the hotels themselves, that are in administration.

Von Essen hotel chain founder Andrew Davis ‘exaggerated its assets’

All the hotels are running as usual, honouring forward bookings for weddings, conferences and so on, and the administrators have every incentive to keep it that way. In many ways, the National Trust model seems the ideal solution for heritage hotels: the building is kept for the nation, the hotel — you hope — generates income and both guests and Trust visitors who have limited access enjoy it. The trouble is, few hotels are architecturally renowned enough to benefit.

Sales-wise, however, the signs are rather good. Such a collection of quality country houses rarely appears on the market at once, so interested buyers are circling.

Von Essen Hotels snaps up Cliveden | London Evening Standard

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Sophie Campbell ponders the fate of the prestigious properties of the von Essen group.

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