Historic seafront building to become four-star hotel

A general wide view of the Old College at Aberystwyth, Wales' oldest university
-Credit: (Image: Jonathon Hill/Media Wales)


Work to transform Wales’ oldest university into a four-star hotel and major new centre for learning, heritage, and culture is gathering pace. The Old College at the seafront in Aberystwyth, which was the first home of the University of Wales when the University Committee bought the building for £10,000 in 1867, is the focus of a £43m revamp which is forecasted by Aberystwyth University to bring 200,000 visitors and £14.5m annually to the town’s economy.

Once completed the building will house a centre for advanced study with research and study offices, a learning centre, a centre for science, an exhibit of the history of the university, a youth space, a study space for students, a library and a multipurpose space in the old hall. There will also be hotel accommodation offering more than 50 four-star bedrooms, two restaurants, a café, a bar, an atrium, and an art gallery among other facilities.

Most of the project is expected to be completed by the end of 2025 with the Cambria section including 24 bedrooms and a restaurant and meeting rooms set to be completed by the end of 2026. In total the project is forecasted to create 130 jobs.

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A building covered in scaffolding
The project is expected to be completed by 2026 -Credit:Jonathon Hill/Media Wales
A model picture of what the accommodation should look like
A model picture of what the accommodation should look like -Credit:Aberystwyth University

Latest pictures show the atrium area at the rear of the college extending seven floors. Lyn Hopkins of Lawray Architects said: “Over the years the Old College has been notoriously difficult for anyone wishing to make their way from one end of the building to the other as it has always meant having to return to the ground floor before climbing again. Its numerous narrow staircases has also meant it was inaccessible for many people.”

Project manager Jim O’Rourke said the atrium will “provide the centrepiece for this historic building”. He said the “regeneration of Aberystwyth starts with this project”.

A model picture of the new atrium
A model picture of the new atrium -Credit:Aberystwyth University
An inside view ongoing of the Quad in Old College
An inside view ongoing of the Quad in Old College -Credit:Aberystwyth University

It is hoped that the library area will host events such as weddings, which Lyn explained would be “important for the viability of the Old College as a venue”. The project is being jointly funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, the Welsh Government, the European Regional Development Fund, the UK Government Levelling Up Fund, the Coastal Communities Fund, and philanthropic trusts and donations from the public through its online appeal.