Great House at Lavenham hits the market as owners retire

The Great House Hotel and Restaurant at Lavenham

The Great House at Lavenham which has hit the market after its current owners decided to sell up and retire - Credit: Christie and Co

An ancient and celebrated Suffolk hotel and restaurant is being offered up for sale with a guide price tag of £1,450,000.

The Great House Hotel and Restaurant in Lavenham has two AA rosettes and is described by agents Christie & Co as "one of England’s finest boutique hotels".

Colchester Zoo owners Dominique and Julie Tropeano snapped up the property in 2016 but said they have now decided to retire from the trade for "age and health" reasons.

They bought it from Regis and Martine Crépy, who ran a French fine dining restaurant business there for more than 30 years before deciding to sell up. Regis has continued to cook alongside his son, Alex, and together they launched the Amélie fast food restaurant at the Grafton Centre in Cambridge where they specialise in creating their signature four-minute flam-kuche dish.

The Tropeanos bought the zoo in 1983, building it up to an attraction with a 250-strong workforce with more than 500,000 visitors a year. 

Colchester Zoo Director Dr Dominique Tropeano Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Colchester Zoo director Dr Dominique Tropeano, who is selling the Great House at Lavenham - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

The Grade II Great House at Lavenham property - which has been fully refurbished - dates back to the 14th and 15th centuries and was built by the Causton family, who were weavers during the medieval town's commercial high point as England's wool capital.

It is one of Lavenham's many architectural treasures. The town is home to around 300 listed buildings and is world-renowned for its timber-framed medieval properties. The Great House was modernised in 18th century, when it was given a Georgian façade. 

Since acquiring the property, the Tropeanos have invested heavily in refurbishing it and the hotel has a high level of repeat custom, said Christies.

A bedroom at the Great House Hotel at Lavenham

A bedroom at the Great House Hotel at Lavenham - Credit: Christie and Co

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The building also has planning permission to re-jig the ground floor to improve the layout and service arrangements.

The Tropeanos now plan to retire from the trade to focus on their family and health, as well as other interests.

The dining area at the Great House in Lavenham

The dining area at the Great House in Lavenham - Credit: Christie and Co

"This presents a fantastic opportunity for an experienced chef or regional operator to acquire the hotel and restaurant and build on its ongoing success," said Christie & Co.

The Tropeanos said they had enjoyed the past four years managing the business.

“While it has been challenging, it has been incredibly rewarding," they said. "The level of service and quality of the food served remains to the highest level of customer expectation for this type of establishment.

"We know the Great House as a business will flourish to new heights when some sort of normality returns. Sadly, it is mainly age and health that force us to make this decision to place The Great House on the market.”

Tim Gooding, director in Christie & Co’s Hospitality team, who is handling the sale said it was "an iconic building" in the heart of the town.

"This combined with an excellent business will we’re sure generate demand from the market which, last year in particular, defied expectations and turned out to be one of our busiest years on record in the region, reflecting long term confidence in a very robust hospitality sector," he said.

The couple had created "a stunning ambience" in the rooms and restaurant which has driven substantial levels of repeat trade from a discerning clientele who keep returning to enjoy first class food, service and accommodation, he said.

The Great House in Lavenham back in 2015 with its culinary team

The Great House in Lavenham back in 2015 when it was awarded three AA rosettes. Left to right, then owners Martine and Regis Crepy along with Enrique Bilbault, Swann Auffray, David Castro and Guillavme Dericq. - Credit: Gregg Brown