The old stomping ground of Sir Robert Peel has been transformed into a luxury hotel. Richard McComb takes a look behind the leaded windows of Hampton Manor, at Hampton-in-Arden.

Without wanting to sound like Kevin McCloud on Grand Designs, the transformation has been miraculous.

The roof has been re-slated, a new heating system has been installed, plumbing and wiring have been overhauled, there is double glazing and the whiffy lino has been ripped up.

The old smell of institutionalised living – this was for many years a care home – has been banished. Tarmac has been replaced with Cotswold stone and gravel on the sweeping terraces.

All in all, Hampton Manor, near Solihull, is looking pretty pleased with itself. The former home of Sir Robert Peel, the founder of the British police service, is indeed an arresting sight.

A dowdy interior has been transformed by a chic 21st century interior design ethos – bold colours, limes and purples, grand drapes, sleek lines. Where once there was institutionalised gloom, there is an abundance of light.

The Grade II listed building, off Shadowbrook Lane in Hampton-in-Arden, is now home to one of the region’s most exciting hotel developments. But it is not a national chain that has moved in, bespoiling the old place with corporate branding. Hampton Manor is privately owned and is managed (a first as far as I am concerned, certainly on this scale) by two brothers-in-law.

The building and its 45 acres were acquired by hoteliers Derrick and Janet Hill in March 2008 but the day-to-day business of running the place is in the hands of their son James and Jonny Malcolm.

Neither has a professional background in hospitality, James, aged 28, having worked in health care management for the NHS while Jonny, who is 39, used to manage the UK’s largest supplier of fresh crab meat. Jonny is married to James’ middle sister, Lorraine.

The Hills previously owned the Pear Tree Inn and Country Hotel in Worcester and were looking forward to a peaceful, not uncomfortable, retirement. But, as James puts it, the quiet life really wasn’t for them.

“My father suggested a sensible amount of his retirement fund being invested in his unsensible son. I started looking at a number of properties and this came on the radar,” says James.

For “sensible amount” of money read £3.25 million, which is what the Hills paid for a sizeable slice of English country estate, its origins traceable back to the Domesday Book, variously passing into the gift of Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Henrietta Maria, wife of King Charles I.

Then there has been the outlay on building work and intricate restoration, not to mention the furnishings and redecoration. The total bill, so far, stands at £5.5 million.

There are also plans for a conference/banqueting venue which will be built into a natural dip in the land, obscured from view and topped off with an extravagant water feature.

In anyone’s books, this is big bucks but the hotel’s location – a short hop from the NEC and Birmingham International Airport and five minutes’ drive in a Bentley from the West Midlands’ motorway network – means the investment is far from being a wild investment.

“He is a very astute businessman and is very clear on cost control,” says Jonny of Derrick Hill, his 65-year-old father-in-law.

“He is very risk averse,” adds James.

Looking round the hotel’s open lobby area, the heir apparent adds: “If he was not grey already, he would be now. But I think this month has given him some relief because the figures are starting to stack up.”

The hospitality industry, so prone to economic fluctuations, can be a cruel mistress but you get the idea that the Hills are unlikely to get their fingers burned.

People probably questioned Derrick Hill’s wisdom of spending £300,000 on the Pear Tree Inn, then a small country pub and restaurant, when the family bought it in 1985.

But when they sold the business in 2004, having expanded it into a 24-bedroom hotel and conference centre, they netted £5.6 million.

Hill Snr is taking a back seat with Hampton Manor, although James says his father is keen to get his hands on gardening duties.

“He wants to spend his days going round the estate on a ride-on lawn mower,” he says. There is a lot of grass to cut in the grounds that are thought to have been laid out by Thomas Mawson, the first president of the Landscape Institute.

And there are the plans for a rose garden. And the old walled garden has huge potential ...

But for now, the target is to develop the hotel business. The model has been hospitality groups such as Hotel du Vin and Handpicked Hotels, who tend to build on the existing character of historic properties, offering a luxury package with elegant accommodation, upmarket cuisine and fine wine.

Food will play a major role if Hampton Manor is to fulfil James’s and Jonny’s expectations. The property’s listed status meant stringent conditions had to be met to retain its architectural integrity.

In fact, the present-day manor owes itself to remodelling carried out by Sir Robert Peel’s son Frederick, in 1855, and planning permission had to approved to construct an atrium over the old courtyard. It is here that the hotel’s restaurant is housed – named (what else?) Peels.

Head chef Martyn Pearn comes with a top cooking pedigree, having held Michelin stars in the UK (at Buckland Manor in the Cotswolds) and in Bordeaux. His new bosses say they have no interest in “chasing awards” but there is huge expectation. Menu items such as veal cutlet, suckling pig, summer truffle, oysters and Champagne do not speak of tame suburban dining but there is also a weekday table d’hôte.

The plan is to make Peels a destination restaurant in its own right but there are also four private dining rooms for customers seeking privacy amid the parkland. An enthusiasm for relaxed informality goes hand in hand with a desire to create something special, hence the plans for the separate meeting/banqueting centre.

James says: “The idea of building the conference centre and banqueting suite is keeping the exclusivity of the hotel and retaining its boutique nature. Mallory Court is the model [a reference to the Relais & Chateaux listed hotel, and Michelin star restaurant, outside Leamington Spa]. We want the restaurant to have an identity in its own right. We want to keep the restaurant for exclusive fine dining.”

Hampton Manor, says James, is very much a family investment for long-term gain. The strategic location means trusting the old film adage has never been more apt: if you build it, they will come. They are already coming. Hampton Manor will host 68 weddings this year and has a civil licence. It was taking bookings before the paint was dry and the leaded window had been buffed.

James’s wife Fiona took charge of the interior decoration, using John Reeves – who has his own boutique shop in New York and works closely with Heal’s – for trendy wardrobes, tables and desks. All the bedrooms have been individually styled. There are 12, including two suites and a spectacular master suite with its own steam room.

No corner has been cut with the accommodation or the public spaces. The French polishers were on site for nine months, such is the extent of the wood panelling and balustrades, all of which have been relieved of decades’ of grim. You could eat your canapés off the wood.

As we talk, a delivery of Pol Roger Champagne arrives, so rest assured: you won’t go thirsty as you admire the renovations.