Spa and ‘speakeasy’ among changes to luxury hotel, restaurant and rooftop bar bid for Exeter House of Fraser site

Changes have been proposed for a £30million bid to redevelop the House of Fraser building in Exeter into a luxury hotel, shops, a bar and restaurant. 

Original plans to convert the shut High Street department store were given the go-ahead last year, writes Local Democracy Reporter Daniel Clark.

But now city-based wealth performance management firm Prydis has submitted fresh blueprints.

They would see a spa and a ‘speakeasy’-style bar introduced in the basement, while a restaurant will be moved from the rooftop to the ground-floor.

Retail units at street level remain, as does a rooftop bar, while internal layout changes have been made to the configuration of the hotel’s bedrooms.

A new artist's impression of proposals for the former House of Fraser site in Exeter. Image from the planning application

A new artist’s impression of proposals for the former House of Fraser site in Exeter. Image from the planning application

The amended plans say the applicant remains committed to bringing a high-quality hotel development to Exeter and the proposed changes will benefit the development and wider area.

In the basement, the extent of required retail storage has been reduced and instead will be replaced by a beauty treatment and relaxation spa to provide additional facilities for the hotel.

The speakeasy-style bar, accessed via Catherine Street, will also be operated by the hotel.

On the ground-floor, retail units face out onto High Street have been retained, but a restaurant – initially planned for the fifth floor – will be moved and incorporated into the hotel.

Amendments have also been made to the internal configuration on floors one to four.

On the fifth floor, the relocated restaurant has been replaced with five bedrooms and an additional balcony area.

A rooftop bar, which will have views over Exeter Cathedral in one direction, St Stephen’s Church on the other side and up to Exeter Castle in the distance, remains.

It has, however, been reconfigured to provide a greater number of indoor seats.

The House of Fraser department store closed in November 2019.

Work on the conversion began in February, and a ‘soft-strip’ of the retail areas revealed challenges and opportunities of the original building which were previously hidden.

This led to further refinement of the proposals being possible.

Exeter City Council will decide the fate of the amended plans.

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