Ahead of the end of the 5 per cent reduced VAT rate for the hospitality…
Anyone thinking not much happened beyond closures in the hotel world during
the past year needs a wake-up call, says Sue Bromley
As we prepare to re-open – or plan for a gear change in those venues which operated to some degree during lockdown – our housekeeping teams will be kept busy. But they’re not the only ones to have spent much of the last year making plans. From major refurbishments to brand new hotels and innovative projects to offer a different guest experience, it’s all been happening – or will do in the coming year.
TOWN & CITY SENSATIONS
We’ll take a tour of just some of the recent developments, starting in the capital. Among the interesting openings in May is Kingsland Locke Hotel in vibrant and trendy Dalton, Hackney. It’s the fourth London venture for Aparthotel brand Locke and is likely to attract a young staycation market wanting a taste of multicultural cuisine and culture. The hotel even has its own microbrewery, gin distillery and underground restaurant.
Location, location is clearly important, even when operating models differ. Whitbread is adding to its hub by Premier Inn hotels with openings in Soho and Shoreditch in April and June. Compact bedrooms and lots of tech are the order of the day, even when it’s behind a retained façade of a former Victorian stable block, as in the case of the 246-bedroom Shoreditch property.
Vonder’s ‘evolved co-living concept’ is being expanded, with hotels in Earls Court and Paddington due to open in May and July. The concept has been created to offer a social hotel experience for guests looking to stay for both short and long-term periods, with a theme of feeling part of a community. A private garden at the Earls Court property will host everything from yoga to open-air parties, concerts, and cinema nights. All Vonder rooms have their own bathrooms, kitchenettes, TVs and highspeed wifi. Wellness brand Rituals will provide luxury toiletries. Vonder believes the ‘extended stay’ trend which developed during the pandemic will continue to grow.
Meanwhile work continues to add another top end hotel to London’s offering with plans to convert the former US Embassy in Grosvenor Square into The Chancery Rosewood, complete with grand ballroom by 2024. That’s also the year Munich-based Ruby Hotels plans to open a 169 room fourth London property in Southwark, close to the Tate Modern, offering their ‘lean luxury’ brand.
In Liverpool, an opening date of 16 August has been set for Melia’s 207 rooms four-star INNSiDE after three years of conversion work – including right through Covid-19 restrictions – following the Liverpool Echo moving out of its iconic offices in Old Hall Road. It will have a 360-degree sky bar on the 18th floor and meeting rooms named after the building’s original use, such as The News Room and The Printing Press.
The autumn will see craft beer chain BrewDog opening a boutique open ‘beer hotel and bar’ in a former Edinburgh schoolhouse as well as in Manchester, with beer on tap in guest rooms and mini-bars filled with ales from around the world. Virgin Hotels intend to open their second hotel in Scotland in Glasgow’s Clyde Street next year. Their Edinburgh hotel, with 222 rooms, also opens in 2022.
Other developments include Hilton planning to build a 148-bed hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon on a site which includes former H&M and Debenhams stores, while at Kelston Park near Bath The Andrew Brownsword Collection is set to convert an 18th century listed mansion into a high end country hotel.
BACK TO NATURE
Wildhive, a new boutique brand headed up by Ed Burrows and Charles Randall, will open its first property at Callow Hall, Derbyshire in the summer. Their aim is to create places where family and friends can gather and explore wild spaces. Derbyshire Bee Society will look after 15 beehives in the grounds which will provide honey for the house.
The main house has been refurbished and the surrounding woodland has 11 one-bedroom Hives each with en-suite bathroom, kitchenette and outdoor bathing. There are also two extraordinary treehouses, designed by Blue Forest, for self-catering. We hope to look at the housekeeping role there in a future issue!
In West Runton, Norfolk, The Links Hotel is planning to build nine wooden lodges in its grounds, in keeping with modern holidaymakers’ habits. The lodges will overlook the hotel golf course in an area of outstanding natural beauty.
FANTASTIC NEW LOOKS
The Grove in Hertfordshire reopens on 17 May following an extensive renovation project completed during lockdown which has seen the 189 bedrooms in the West Wing remastered and stunning new looks for its three dining areas and the lobby. Guests will also find that the hotel’s lounges have been carefully enhanced, in keeping with its Georgian heritage. Visitors to Foxhills Club & Resort in Surrey will discover their favourite place has also undergone changes during lockdown – a £7m investment will see the opening in May of The Pavilion, designed by Michaelis Boyd, the architects behind Soho Farmhouse This will have a host of features including indoor and outdoor pools, art and dance studios, children’s play facilities, games room, terraces, and restaurant. Horwood House in north Buckinghamshire is set to reopen on 17 May after a £20m investment included all 165 bedrooms being refurbished and individually designed at the listed manor house. There will be two new dining spaces, and a luxury spa centre with indoor pool is due to operate from the summer.
Bournemouth’s Savoy Hotel has been acquired by The Nicolas James Group ( owners of Harbour Hotels) and now a £20m plan to turn it into a luxury lifestyle property have been announced. A soft refurbishment will allow it to open for summer this year before closure in September for a major project.
By 2022 it will not only have a new name but some 100 bedrooms, a spa and restaurants. The group’s chairman, Nicolas Roach, is a local resident and believes it’s time to bring back ‘a golden era’ for Bournemouth.
In Scotland there’s been a £1.3m investment by owners Crieff Hydro Family of Hotels in the four-star Ballachulish Hotel at Glencoe. All 53 bedrooms have been renovated, alongside updates to restaurants and other features. The ibis Styles London Gloucester Road — the Accor Group’s first pilot hotel to be equipped with a 100 per cent digital ecosystem — reopens in May — with contactless solutions at every stage of a guest’s stay. This will combine online check-in, secure payment with Pay By Link, the use of ‘Accor Key’ to access rooms and other areas of the hotel, digital catering services with Click Pay Collect technology and contact of hotel teams via WhatsApp.
WE’RE REVVING UP
Finance deals have been secured which are set to ensure opening of the first ever hotel at the Silverstone motor racing circuit in Northamptonshire in November. The Hilton Garden Inn Silverstone will overlook the start / finish line and pit lanes. The hotel will have 197 bedrooms and suites, a rooftop terrace bar and restaurant.
But we’re thinking of all the ‘foots to the pedal’ our housekeeping teams will need in the coming months – and delighted that all these new openings and refurbishments will provide extra opportunities for those seeking new roles.