UK gears up for tourism growth with over 7,500 new hotel guestrooms

The Nobu Hotel opened its first UK property in Shoreditch, London.

The first six months of 2017 saw the highest number of hotel guestrooms opening in the UK since the Olympic year of 2012, according to Hotel Bulletin Q2 2017 published by HVS, AlixPartners, STR and AM:PM. Growth in hotel RevPAR in all but two UK cities, double digit growth in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast and London’s 8-percent uplift demonstrated that international visitors are still coming to the UK on the back of a weaker pound and a number of high profile events. 

The hotel sector is preparing for further growth in visitor numbers with over 7,500 new guestrooms opening during the first half of 2017, up 40 percent over last year’s figures. Premier Inn continued its expansion during Q2, with two new hotels opening and the group’s fifth hub by Premier Inn at London’s King’s Cross. However, Q2 also saw notable activity from independently branded hotels as an alternative to the more traditional hotels.

“While there will always be a strong demand for branded hotels, we are certainly seeing a growing appetite among hotel guests, primarily those in London, for something a little different. Boutique hotels in quirky buildings with a strong stamp of personality and a more unusual proposition are becoming very fashionable among discerning customers,” HVS London chairman Russell Kett said in a statement. Typical examples include the new 252-guestroom The Ned opened by Soho House in May. The hotel, converted from the former Midland Bank, has nine dining venues and a bar in the Bank’s former vaults.

Similarly, plans have been submitted for a 214-guestroom Hoxton Hotel in London’s Shepherd’s Bush with a café and leisure scheme. This will be Hoxton Hotels' third London property. A number of designer hotels have also opened in Shoreditch, including the Curtain Hotel and London's first Nobu Hotel and the third Nobu restaurant to open in the capital. “A recognized brand name is less important in London as it’s a strong market. The new, independent hotels emerging like the Hoxton benefit from their association with Soho House for their restaurants and bars and The Ned benefits from its co-ownership by Soho House,” Kett added.

There is also a clutch of luxury hotels in London’s pipeline bringing new brands to the capital, such as the Armani on Admiralty Arch, Raffles in the Old War Office, Belmond in the redeveloped Cadogan Hotel and Cheval Blanc in the former US Embassy. In addition, The Peninsula London on Hyde Park Corner opening in 2021 will have the largest rooms of any luxury hotel in the city. “This activity confirms that London is still a magnet for high-end global hotel brands and demonstrates that the hotel sector is adapting to customer demand and the need to stay ahead of the game by offering something on-trend and edgy,” Kett said.