The Imperial is an impressive hotel built in 1863 by Benjamin Bucknall – the architect who also designed Woodchester Park Mansion. It gained a spirit licence on the 4th September 1862.
The hotel was sold to the Stroud Brewery Company in 1949 for £25,000. The Stroud Brewery Courier reported: ‘This very attractive hotel situated near and facing the Stroud G.W.R. Station has been recently acquired by the Company. It has twenty-five letting bedrooms, a spacious resident’s lounge, public lounge, hotel bar, public bar and Gentleman’s smoke room, together with a large dining room. In addition, the hotel has well equipped kitchens and Mr and Mrs F.J. Coucher, the Company’s Manager and Manageress are able to meet the needs of the public in the catering side and for public functions.’
Princess Elizabeth met civic dignitaries and signed the visitors’ book at the hotel, and after their performance at Stroud Subscription Rooms on Saturday 31st March 1963, the Beatles stayed at the Imperial Hotel.
From 1964 the Imperial was a popular Berni Inns restaurant. Tim Mars from Stroud CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) noted that ‘many might have fond memories of its incarnation as a Berni Inn between 1964 and the late 1980s, and enjoying the classic Berni Inn meal there—a prawn cocktail starter, steak with chips and peas for the main course, and Black Forest gateau for afters. Not forgetting a liqueur ‘floater’ coffee in a glass and After Eight mints. The height of sophistication! Inspired by a 1950s American steak house, it is the archetype of the pub/restaurant chains around us today, from Harvester to Wetherspoon.’
The Citizen: Friday, 9th January 1987 – Braille on the menu! Braille menus to help the blind and partially sighted people eating out have been introduced at the Imperial, stroud. The Berni and Host Group Ltd. has introduced the menus at some 300 restaurants around the country. Ralph and Susan Robinson, managers of the Imperial, said blind customers could now read and choose from the menu without having to rely on others.
In the 21st Century the Imperial had become the Royal Orchid Thai Restaurant, and the interior was redecorated and furnished with cosy leather armchairs and sofas. It had good reviews. When the sub-lease expired in May 2020 the Imperial closed and was boarded up. The main lease on the property expired in March 2021. Tim Mars commented: “The Imperial is the only remaining hotel in the town centre. It would be a crying shame to lose such a perfectly situated, purpose-built hotel, with a spacious bar and restaurant, two function rooms and 23 ensuite bedrooms.”
The Imperial Hotel was bought in May 2021 by an unknown purchaser. In September 2021 it was announced that there were proposals to develop the upper floors of the Imperial Hotel into a boutique hotel with 25 rooms. The agents were offering the lower floors of the building – the ground floor with its public house, open space and restaurant – to let, with a 20-year lease.
Owner in 1891: Imperial Hotel Co. Ltd. (free from brewery tie)
Rateable value in 1891: £219.0s.0d.
Type of licence in 1891: Alehouse
Owner in 1903: Frances Tealor Lawson (free from brewery tie)
Rateable value in 1903: £219.0s.0d.
Type of licence in 1903: Alehouse
Closing time in 1903: 11pm
Owner in 1949: Stroud Brewery
Owner in 2005: Greene King Brewing
Landlords / Proprietors at the Imperial Hotel include:
1862 Mr A.M. Roberts
1885 Frederick Winterbotham (Stroud Imperial Hotel Co. Ltd., Rowcroft)
1885 Miss Frances Tealor Wade
1891,1919 Mrs Frances Tealor Lawson
1998 Farhad Tabai. Sharon Squire (manageress)
2001 Graham and Kathy Gifford
2003 Patrick Gleeson
2006 Emily Pajdo