Is Welsh Hotel’s 18 Foot Red Bow Festive…or an Inappropriate English Flag Lookalike?

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The owner of the 300 year old Welsh Castle View Hotel wanted to spruce up his property for the Christmas holidays.

Michael Curry (the owner) brainstormed. The 12+ guest room hotel already oozed charm, with a stained glass door leading to a private garden, oak spiral staircase, and boasting unparalleled views of Britain’s oldest stone built castle.

Chepstow Castle

Chepstow Castle

Something was missing though, something that showed passersby and guests that this was a hotel with heart. Something that spoke to weary travelers and made them smile, and let them know the family-run property wanted to give them a warm welcome. What could he do? A decorated tree already stood in the hotel, along with the usual Christmasy decorations.


Then, it came to him. He could paint a couple criss-crossing red bands on the white hotel to make it look like the hotel was a great big present!


He set about the project, and even affixed a huge red bow in the middle of the 18 foot red painted “ribbon”. Success! It was only a matter of time before people noticed.

Some people loved the festive look. Trouble is, a hairdresser with a shop just a few yards away thought that the decorative red bands made the hotel look too much like the English Flag. Being a Welsh hotel, this was not a good thing.


Word spread, and to compound the controversy, because the Castle View Hotel is located in Chepstow’s conservation area she got the Monmouthshire County Council folks involved.

Things snowballed quickly and after launching an investigation, it was determined that the lookalike flag of St George decoration had to come down. Michael Currey was ordered to remove the ribbon & bow, and even though he protested that it was just an effort to make the hotel look Christmassy officials weren’t impressed.

He now has until January 8, 2017 to take down the bow and repaint to get the exterior color back to its previous white. This sounds like an ok resolution (although I wonder if it was really necessary for the hairdresser to complain and contact officials) since Mr. Currey’s intention was simply to give his hotel a festive look for the holidays.

What do you think, should Mr. Currey have been allowed to keep the hotel ribbon painted on or was the Council right in telling him to remove it?

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  1. Evan

    I’m English but with with mostly Welsh heritage. I think it’s a bit of a storm in a tea-cup but the hotel owner could have achieved the same effect with a different coloured “ribbon”. Next year he could try a green one. To my mind it does look like a wrapped present rather than the Flag of St George and the ivy means that the hotel is actually red, green and white like the Welsh flag. But I can see that it’s an “unfortunate” choice for a Welsh pub.

    • Melinda

      I think it looks like a gaily wrapped present too Evan, and I hope the owner isn’t too discouraged to try something slightly different next year. I hadn’t thought about the ivy helping make it look like the Welsh flag (but the owner probably pointed that out to the council). I really like your idea of a green ribbon, and will watch the news next year to see if he tries again.

  2. Rich

    It seems that the problem is not that it looks like the English flag, but that it’s a conservation area in which buildings are supposed to retain their historical appearance (the linked BBC article says that “Monmouthshire council said it wanted the paint restored to its original colour as it is in a conservation area”).

    By the way, the flag image in the post is of the Union Flag of the entire UK. The English flag ( is a simple red cross centered on a white field, and the hotel does resemble that a lot. But while rejecting the English flag may have been what drove the hairdresser, it might also just have been not eroding the protection of the conservation area.

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