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.’
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.
Stroud News & Journal, 4th March 1998 – The Imperial Hotel (advertisement): The restaurant at The Imperial Hotel, Stroud, has a warm, relaxed and friendly atmosphere, made all the more welcoming by the proprietor, Mr Farhad Tabai.
The restaurant was reopened three weeks ago when Mr Tabai and partner Sharon Squire took over. Their plan is to return the hotel to its former glory. They have finished the restaurant, which is now up and running and the next stage in the plan is to update the bar, followed by the bedrooms.
The Citizen, 24th April 2003 – Boost for St George from Irishman Pat: There was only one public event in Stroud to celebrate on St George’s Day – and it was held by an Irishman. Patrick Gleeson, the landlord, covered his pub, The Imperial Hotel in Stroud, with a spectacular array of the red-and-white St George’s flags.
The pub, which also decorated its interior with shields, held a disco last night to celebrate the event. And despite the fact that he’s an Irishman, Patrick didn’t hesitate in marking the big day. He said, “The pub held a St Patrick’s Day event and one of the regulars asked if there would be one for St George’s Day.”
The Citizen, 27th December 2006 – Hotel Thais up a bright future: Stroud’s Imperial Hotel has been transformed into a sophisticated Thai restaurant. New managers Emily Pajdo and Anu Vardhana, who took over the business in March, have refurbished the ground floor. Anu, 49, who has managed hotels for nearly 30 years, said the response from customers has been extremely positive. “They cannot believe their eyes when they see the place,” he said.
In the next few weeks the restaurant will also be serving traditional English pub food, and in January work will begin to refurbish the 25 bedrooms.
Stroud Life, 24th February 2007 – Imperial returns to former glory: If you haven’t been in The Imperial recently you need to take a look. You’d hardly believe it is the same place. Gone is the tired, and to be frank, rather tired interior. It was taken over by Emily Pajdo last September and she has worked miracles. Now it’s light and airy with lovely subdued lighting. Full of cosy leather armchairs and sofas, it gleams with brass, tasteful pictures on cream walls, starched white napkins and a classy bar.
It is a place where you would want to spend some time. Before it was a place while you sheltered from the rain while you waited for your lift at the station. It had lost its way and wasn’t the first place you would think of if going out for a drink in the town centre.
Stroud Life, 6th October 2010 – Hotel’s guests range from rock to royalty: (by Jo Barber) Pop royalty and the real life Queen are to be remembered as the historic Imperial Hotel undergoes a facelift. The Beatles and Her Majesty, when she was still Princess Elizabeth, have all patronised the regal sounding hotel in Stroud.
Now the Imperial, just opposite the railway station, is undergoing a major upgrade and plans are afoot to theme a room in honour of the Beatles. But first the hotel’s new owner, businessman and filling station boss Lakhman Gallage, 43, is appealing for anyone with memories of the Fab Four’s 60s visit to help his historical investigations. It was 1962 when The Beatles stayed overnight at The Imperial after they played the Subscription Rooms. But it is unclear in which room or rooms the then budding pop legends actually stayed. “Any help from anyone with evidence of The Beatles’ stay would be gratefully received,” said Mr Gallage.
Even before The Beatles, The Imperial was on the map as Stroud’s destination hotel. Its lounge was where local civic leaders played host to Princess Elizabeth on her fleeting visit to the town in 1949.
The 25-bedroom hotel was taken over by Mr Gallage in August. “My vision is to create a hotel Stroud can be proud of,” he said. The 300-year-old former coaching inn was designed by architect Benjamin Bucknall, who designed Woodchester Park Mansion. Before 1900 the premises were extended and stables erected, at which time The Imperial was described as “one of the most comfortable” hotels in the West of England.
Advertisement, July 2011 – The Imperial: The Imperial Hotel is situated in the centre of Stroud. It offers fine genuine Thai cuisine – among the favourites are pad Thai noodles, Thai green curry, and Thai red curry. However light and traditional snacks and sandwiches are also available. Locally sourced vegetables, ice cream and ales are carefully selected from our suppliers.
Recently renovated, and with bright, modern furnishing, the Imperial has a luxurious and relaxed atmosphere. There are two multi-functional conference facilities on the premises. The Golden Valley lounge accommodates up to 50 people and the larger Stroud Valley lounge accommodates up to 80 people. They are perfect for conferences. meetings, engagement parties, wedding receptions, wakes or any other special occasion.
Stroud Life, 4th February 2015 – Something for everyone at unusual Sri Lankan buffet: Keep your eyes peeled for the next Sri Lankan buffet night at Stroud’s Imperial Hotel. It’s a rare culinary treat, bringing something a little different to Stroud’s culinary scene. While The Imperial has built up a reputation for its excellent Thai food, bringing the spicy kick of the Far East to Stroud, once every few weeks it offers something different.
The Imperial’s owners Lakshman and Noma Gallage change the culinary destination and offer the chance to experience the flavours of their homeland Sri Lanka. The Sri Lankan buffet evenings at the Imperial have built up a growing following and they offer an affordable Sunday evening treat. It’s £14 for three courses and the atmosphere is relaxed. Diners are welcome to return to the buffet as many times as they like.
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
2010 Lakshman Gallage