Published: 06:00, 30 July 2020
| Updated: 07:12, 30 July 2020
"We don't think it'll just have best view in Canterbury, it'll have the best in Kent" - those are the confident words of two developers behind the county's newest hotel and rooftop restaurant.
Eight years after hatching their plan in a coffee shop, the pair are now nearing the finishing straight of their project to deliver a 130-bed Hampton by Hilton in the heart of the city.
Built six storeys high on the site of the former Slatters Hotel, the modern structure rising above St Margaret's Street is about a year away from its official opening in the summer of 2021.
A big milestone for the multi-million pound project has been reached, with directors Zaw Htut and Mike Wood hosting a topping out ceremony on the building's summit.
Boasting extensive views across the city centre and beyond, the top floor - where the champagne celebration was held - will house a restaurant run entirely separate to the hotel.
Once up-and-running, the latter - which will be run by by global firm Interstate - will be named the Hampton by Hilton Canterbury.
Operators for the restaurant, hoped to be either a locally-based business or big name, are yet to be found and new retail units set to open on the ground floor are also being marketed.
The development, designed by Guy Hollaway, has faced a number of hurdles over the years, but with construction work continuing throughout lockdown, the red ribbon remains on course to be cut next year.
"I think we could write a book on it all," Mr Htut said.
"On top of everything, coronavirus then comes along and obviously that's caused difficulties. But we've reached this milestone and it's exciting to now see everything come together.
"Looking back at the start of it eight years ago, I think it's fair to say there's been some ups and downs.
"It's been a big journey for us and also a lesson in tenacity and commitment - proving that if you believe in something, you can get it done.
"Once it comes to completion we can look back with pride at what we've done."
Artefacts found from the eight-month archaeological dig are planned to go on show in the hotel, while a glass floor in the reception area will also showcase the remains of a Roman theatre below.
The hotel is also set to have a gym and meeting room areas, while the rooftop restaurant will have a separate entrance allowing tourists and city visitors not staying at the hotel to dine above the hustle and bustle of Canterbury.
"I can't think of anywhere else in Kent with such a great view," Mr Htut added.
"There are no other places like it.
"As well as the restaurant, a number of hotel rooms will also have the great views.
"The whole project will be a big positive for Canterbury - creating jobs, overnight stays, boosts for retail.
"We couldn't have got here without a lot of people but there's still a lot of work to do before opening in mid-2021."
Senior job roles for the hotel are set to soon be advertised and rooms are beginning to take shape on the lower levels.
Mr Wood said: "Hampton by Hilton is an international brand known all across the world. That's something Canterbury is lacking and this will be a name tourists are familiar with.
"All of this started when we met for a coffee in Camden eight years ago. It's brilliant to see where we're at now."