A HISTORIC hotel near Wallingford once owned by Deep Purple rock legend Ian Gillan is to close.
The owners of The Springs Hotel say they can no longer afford to pay for the upkeep of the building and internet booking companies offering discounts are eating into any potential profits.
The 32-bedroom hotel in North Stoke will close in October although the golf club at the site, which has about 400 members, will continue to operate.
Directors Svenia and Paul Franklin have not yet decided what to do with the property, which features a guitar-shaped swimming pool installed by its musical former owner.
The hotel's guitar-shaped swimming pool
Wallingford mayor Bernard Stone, was disappointed to hear news of the closure and said that it was a blow to the tourism industry in the area.
He added: “We need more hotel rooms in and around Wallingford.
“The hotel has a very interesting history so it’s a shame that the owners have decided to close it.
“The town council will now talk to economic development officer Suzanne Malcolm about what could be done to attract a hotel chain to the area.
“There are some good places to stay in Wallingford but the town is quite short of hotel bed spaces.”
Mrs Franklin said: “The decision to close the hotel has not been taken lightly. Many factors have influenced our decision.
“The hotel industry has struggled over the last few years.
“We have persevered, but sadly it is a market in which we can no longer compete. Our costs are continuously increasing and one of the main factors is that we are working with a very old building whose condition is deteriorating.
“Running costs are very high and commissions to third parties continue to increase.
“This decision in no way affects the golf club which will continue to trade as usual.”
The country property was built in 1874 and the hotel is named after the seven springs that feed a pond in the grounds.
Rock singer Ian Gillan bought the mock Tudor building in 1973 and started to restore it to its former glory. He and his girlfriend paid £100,000 for the property and invested £443,000 of their own money in it.
Mr and Mrs Franklin bought the hotel in 1995.
Mrs Franklin added: “The building was never designed to be a hotel, with the kitchen upstairs and the restaurant downstairs.
“This has been a hard decision for us but we want to concentrate on one aspect of the business – the golf club.”
Mrs Franklin said she did not intend to sell the hotel as a business and had not yet decided what to do with the building. She added that it would cost a “few million pounds” to properly renovate it as a hotel.