Oliver Heywood was born to be a hotelier. Coming from a line of hotel owners, he is now the third generation in his family to pioneer a new brand of establishments in the north, together with his brother Dominic. Aptly named Flat Cap Hotels, paying homage to both his hometown and his roots, the Heywood brothers burst onto the scene with the launch of The Vicarage Freehouse and Rooms in Cheshire in 2015.
The idea for Flat Cap Hotels came from Heywood and his brother Dom noticing a gap in the market in the north west for a boutique offering that is defined by its rural location and fantastic food. Inspired by The Pig and Firmdale,
Heywood saw the remarkable impact these brands have had on the sector and wanted to recreate something similar of his own in pockets of the country north of the M25.
He set some ambitious targets from the start. Soon after Flat Cap Hotels’ first acquisition, Heywood announced plans to build a portfolio of five properties by 2019 across the north, bringing his quirky boutique concept to the market. Just this year in January, it was revealed that the young brand had been given full planning approval to bring to life a former crown court in Knutsford, marking Flat Cap Hotels’ second venture into the market.
Work has already begun on transforming the historic building into a 10-bedroom boutique complete with 150-cover restaurant and bar. A further 32 bedrooms will be developed in 2018. Heywood describes: “As long as there are fields and motorways near us, that’s the notion for us really. Somebody asked me to describe our location – I said it’s very much chimney pots and motorways, surrounded by fields.”