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Chanel-designed Highland retreat set to become boutique hotel

By Luke Nicholls , 09-Jul-2012
Last updated on 12-Jul-2012 at 13:31 GMT

A multi-million-pound highland estate which was once the holiday retreat of fashion legend Coco Chanel is set to be given a new lease of life as an upmarket boutique hotel.

Although no company has yet been agreed to operate the hotel (it may be the developer), it is expected to open in early 2014, and it is 'unlikely' that it will become a branded property or change its name.

Rosehall Estate near Lairg in Sutherland was the romantic hideout for fashion designer Chanel during her decade-long affair with the 2nd Duke of Westminster, Hugh Grosvenor.

But after remaining dormant for more than 60 years, the Georgian mansion that lies at the heart of the Estate is set to become a 20-bedroom hotel, with a number of holiday apartments also being constructed in the grounds.

“Rosehall has sadly lain uninhabited for 60 years and as a result was in danger of accelerated decline,” said Ian Cram, director of Bell Ingram Design – the architect firm which has been appointed to lead the project.

“Rosehall is thought to be the only property outside of France and Switzerland to contain a genuine Chanel-designed interior and reputedly, Scotland’s first bidet.

Interior design

“While it will be impossible to save all the features, we have a real chance to restore this cultural gem to something like its former glory. Our aim is to work very closely with planners to try to utilise every possible remaining feature of the building to ensure its conservation, as well as preserving the influence of Chanel as far as possible.

“We don’t know what the final interior design will look like, but we do know that it will have a strong nod to the 1920’s era and the time when Coco Chanel lived there.”

Bell Ingram Design is acting on behalf of Rosehall Estate. After learning of the building’s history, Rosehall Estate now want to restore the house back to its former glory

The B-Listed property attracted a variety of famous visitors in its heyday including Sir Winston Churchill who came to stay at Rosehall in 1928 following an illness.

Heritage and conservation

Rosehall was sold by the Duke of Westminster later in 1928 to the Graesser family and it remained in the family for six decades. It was then bought by another developer before passing to the current Rosehall Estate owners.

A spokesperson at Rosehall Estate said: “The heritage and conservation of the property have been at the forefront of the restoration and the design process and Bell Ingram has really understood the importance of maintaining this.

“Rosehall has a fascinating history and is one of the most unique buildings in the country which is why it is so important that it was saved from further decline.” 

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