If you were to try and describe The Cotswolds to someone who lived in a cave then you’d probably describe the achingly picturesque Bourton-On-The-Water. Then, if you carried on and described a typical Cotswoldian building, I should think that The Dial House Hotel in Bourton-On-The-Water would be effortlessly imagined. 

It was built in 1698 by local architect Andrew Paxford – his wife’s initials are carved on the front of the building. It was originally named “The Vinehouse” but was renamed after the large sundial above the front door in the early 19th Century. It has been a hotel for the past 30 years and is hugely popular with visitors to the area as well as locals who often dine in the hotel restaurant or Maxi’s Tipi in the garden.

Laurence’s vision for the project was to,

“make The Dial House a design beacon to bring new life to the traditional elegance of Cotswold designers like William Morris, balanced with 21st Century expectations of luxury indulgence and comfort.”

A few miles from here, in Cirencester (recently named by The Times as being the best place to live in the South West) you’ll find a little corner of Maximalist heaven. Uncharacteristically for its eponymous owner, Llewelyn-Bowen Design appears at first glance to blend seamlessly into the beautiful Cirencester architecture. 

This Pattern Powerhouse is steeped in Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen’s ‘design DNA’ and there’s no escaping it, not that you’d want to! Flowers, tropical birds, animals, bright colours, bold designs all come together brilliantly and the whole place feels like a well considered, albeit rather large reading nook.

All of Laurence’s patterns start life as a sketch on a page, a simple pen and ink drawing that is filled with details most people wouldn’t even consider; tiny fleur-de-lis on the body of a camel in Menagerie Artois (see above, left); the glint of a peacock’s eye in Galleria; the folds of the sunflower petals in Oscar In The Wilde (see above, right). All coming together, not so much as a feast for the the eyes, but more a chance to allow your eyes to gorge themselves silly.

Laurence has his office ‘above the shop’ where he works with Team LLB to bring his designs to life as they conspire to take over the world, one boutique hotel at a time.

At first, Laurence wasn’t sure if The Dial House Hotel was his cup of tea. “I was a bit feisty about it at first as I’m just so bored of all the Cotswold cliches. Cotswold hospitality is wonderful, but the hospitality context is, frankly, Roundhead, with everything feeling a little bit puritanical.

There’s something Cromwellian about the contemporary Cotswold style, with the green-grey do-not-look-at-these walls and understated style and rickety furniture. We’ve become comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

So, the logical direction to go was completely the opposite way.

It’s very typical of Laurence to take the opportunity to share his knowledge of art, design and history whenever possible and shaking things up at The Dial House was the perfect podium for him. 

“I’ve always wanted my designs to be like an afternoon with Google, that takes you off into all sorts of places you’d never visit on a normal day”

He designed five suites, each with its own inspirational Arts and Crafts hero at the heart of the design. You’ve got Oscar (Wilde) Owen (Jones) Walter (Crane) Aubrey (Beardsley) and May (Morris). 

They take you on a journey of the mind and will hopefully coax the less adventurous home owner to dip their toe into Maximalism when they return from their well-earned break in this little cocoon of lux.

All suites are designed with the Llewelyn-Bowen Design patterns, from floor to ceiling, giving each space it’s very own identity. They also feature details such as faux book fronts in May from Original Book Works, a beautiful wall hanging showing one of Laurence’s original artworks in Aubrey and a screen in Oscar to act in lieu of a wardrobe.

The May Morris suite (left) became the most challenging room due to its low ceiling and sharp eaves. Laurence felt that by leaning into its unusual dimensions, rather than designing tricks to hide it, he could recognise the history of the room while also achieving a warm, exciting space. It went from the room they’d struggled to invite people into, to the most popular room in the hotel! The patterns ‘Down The Dilly’ and “Pants On Fire Rainbow’ are on full display and complement the multicoloured bespoke faux book headboard.

The Walter Suite (above) is a luscious and vivid embodiment of nature, complete with ethereal green tones and feathered embellishments. The pattern ‘Birdity Abserdity’ covers all walls and is a direct homage to the English illustrator, Walter Crane’s work. It features exceptionally detailed line work and the multiple colourways throughout the room provide a fun and somewhat youthful charm to an already characterful space. 

The Owen suite (above) elegantly explores the subtle glamour of pearlescent colouring to create a voluptuous and comfortable space. ‘Suburban Jungle’ wallpaper (above), available from Wallpaper Direct, is a decadent statement design enlivened with wild details. Regal leopards luxuriate the room while the dusky jewel-toned hues are in concert with luscious palm leaves. ‘Pants On Fire Pink’ and ‘Mint Bargello’ on soft furnishings complement the walls to to create a darlingly delightful aesthetic. 

Using artwork from Laurence’s romantically Arcadian landscapes as a starting point, the tapestries in the Aubrey suite (right) impart a deep, luxurious sense of historical comfort and glamorous coziness. ‘Pesky Meddling’ (right)  and ‘Naughty Aubrey’ add flickers of pattern to contrast the ink work of the tapestries.

The Oscar suite (bottom right) is adorned with the warmth of golden, yellow hues and wrapped in the vibrancy of exotic oriental design. This stunning room is an intimate haven that offers an elegant interior space. Patterns ‘Oscar In The Wild’ and ‘Sunny Side Up’  (above, right) provide a summer vibrance to an otherwise small and 

bijou room. 

Head outside, and in the garden you’ll find Maxi’s Tipi. Designed to encapsulate long, drawn-out summer evenings, it is filled with sofas, cushions, lampshades, giant floor cushions and feels like the living room furniture has been dragged outside so everyone can fully loaf. “It’s sophisticated, but kinky and feels like we’re bing subversive in a rather suburban way.”

Laurence doesn’t simply look at a room and decide to fill it with patterns and colours of his choosing. He looks at the whole and brings together a work of art that one can recline in and become absorbed by. 

Since launching The Tipi and the new suites last summer, the designs that were created for The Dial House have proven to be wildly popular. They’ve featured on Changing Rooms, are in the new collection at Next and are firm favourites at the aforementioned showroom in Cirencester. 

Our 3D renders of the Tipi allowed us to showcase our visions to the clients early on in the process. They were able to visualise how our pattern, product and the space’s natural lighting will come together to create the maximalist emporium from Laurence’s vision. 

These designs are a small glimpse of the huge array of patterns that Laurence has designed since opening up the showroom in 2021 and there’s plenty more where they came from.