Historic Penshurst pub announces new landlord and major refurbishment

Last week, The Leicester Arms Hotel in Penshurst announced that it would be closing for refurbishment and reopening under new management.

The popular pub on Penshurst’s High Street will have its last hurrah under its current landlord, Laurence Bowes, on Sunday October 22. It will then close for six to eight weeks to complete necessary structural work.

Speaking exclusively to the Times, he said: “The exit from a tied tenancy agreement at the Leicester Arms with the Brakspear pub company is based solely on the cost of operations.

“With the cost-of-living crisis negatively impacting hospitality businesses the hardest, it appears to us to be impossible to operate the Leicester Arms and also turn a profit. So, it’s with an incredibly heavy heart we leave the pub and pursue other directions,” he added.

Under Mr Bowes’ custody, investments included renovating the 13 bedrooms and building a garden bar and barbecue.

The experienced landlord says he will be kept busy running his two other popular local establishments.

“Our award-winning mentality will continue in our other two pubs, The Rock Inn, Chiddingstone and The Royal Oak, Hawkhurst.”

Yesterday (October 10), The Leicester’s new landlords, Little & Large Pub Company, were announced by the pub’s owners Brakspear, which also owns The Claremont, in Tunbridge Wells and The George and the Dragon in Speldhurst.

Little & Large founder Manu Bhatt says: “We’re excited to be taking on The Leicester Arms; it’s a fantastic pub with huge potential and ticks all the boxes for us. Our goal at all our pubs is simple – every day, we strive to give our guests the best possible experience, whether they’re dining, drinking or staying with us.”

A Brakspear spokesperson confirmed that the refurbishment programme will include redecorating the pub’s bedrooms.

“The pub’s 13 en-suite bedrooms will also be revamped to give them a more contemporary, boutique hotel-feel,” they told the Times.

“It’s great to be refurbishing the pub at the outset, so that the design can reflect the way we want to run it: informal, friendly and flexible” added Mr Bhatt.

Brakspear Chief Executive Tom Davies said: “We couldn’t be happier about Little & Large taking on The Leicester Arms. Under their management, The Running Horses [near Dorking] has gone from strength to strength, thanks to their focus on high standards and outstanding customer service. We’re happy to be working with them on their second Brakspear pub and confident it will also be a huge success.”

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