London Hotels Insight provides up-to-date, independent advice for your perfect stay in London. We research guest feedback, meet management and identify hotels at the top of their game.
London boutique hotels round-up – Dec. 2011.
It’s been a packed year of developments, openings and promotions for London boutique hotels in 2011 and December was no exception.
With the New Year almost upon us, we take a look at some of the most newsworthy items to emerge in the past month, as well as some exciting prospects for 2012 and beyond.
HotelNewsNow.com recently identified 5 key trends in the evolution of boutique hotels worldwide: ‘outsourced food and beverage facilities’ - run by famous chefs and bartenders, ‘private clubs and guest-only areas’; ‘authenticity’ and the conversion of historic buildings into boutique hotels; ‘sustainability’ and ‘affordable luxury.’
It will be interesting to see if these trends are followed by the new wave of boutique hotel openings in 2012. One will be the new offering from fledgling hotel group Z Hotels, which recently opened its Z Hotel Soho. London’s second Z Hotel is due to open early in 2012 - a 106-room property on Lower Belgrave Street near Victoria Station.
The Mondrian boutique chain (owned by Morgans Hotels) is also set to open its first European property in London, though not until 2014. The hotel will be on the South Bank by the Thames, in the prominent Sea Containers building. Mondrian are known for their creative hotel designs and trendy concepts, so it will be interesting to see how the project shapes up.
Meanwhile, established London boutique operator Firmdale has secured funding for a new hotel to add to its portfolio to be built in Ham Yard near Piccadilly Circus, using £188m worth of finance from Barclays Corporate. The Bank’s head of hotel finance, Tim Helliwell, commented that “the ongoing success of Firmdale during a challenging time for the sector is truly impressive and we look forward to supporting the Group’s future growth ambitions.” Completion of the Ham Yard site is estimated for late 2013.
Dukes Hotel in St James has announced that it will rejoin the Small Luxury Hotels of the World collection, which currently has more than 500 luxury hotels in its directory. Dukes GM Debrah Dhugga enthusiastically commented: “Small Luxury Hotels of the World is a perfect fit for Dukes; ‘a small luxury boutique hotel’ being exactly what we are.”
While Dukes is happy to be known as a boutique hotel, it would seem The Goring is less keen on the label. The hotel’s MD David Morgan-Hewitt told Breaking Travel News, “We are not a boutique hotel – we have been named as a ‘baby grand.’ This is because the soul of what is going on at the hotel is on the ground floor but the money is upstairs. Boutique hotels can be soulless but it is never quiet here.” Well, as a previous London Hotels Insight blog post confirms, it’s certainly never boring at The Goring!
London boutique hotels have been drawing attention from the national press recently. Towards the end of the year, the Telegraph revisited the original boutique hotel, the Anouska Hempel-designed Blake’s. The paper concluded that while it had, “lost its decadent aura” in the decades since its inception, it was “still an intimate and charming bolthole.”
The Radisson Blu Edwardian Mercer Street - a luxury hotel in Covent Garden which recently underwent a substantial refurbishment, has been receiving favourable reviews on TripAdvisor according to the London Hotels Insight blog. Recent reviewers commended the hotel’s attentive staff and classy decor with its convenient location in Covent Garden also cited as a plus.
The Milestone Hotel’s specialist sleep package was featured on the BBC’s ‘Fast Track’ episode on hotel insomnia, which the broadcaster says affects one in five of us at some point and is especially likely to impact frequent travellers. You can watch the feature on the BBC website.
The Milestone’s wellness treatments were also under the media spotlight when the Daily Mail raved about the hotel’s hot stone massage treatments carried out in their spa by its renowned massage and wellness therapist Fiona Keane, who is employed by the luxury London boutique hotel.
Finally, HotelChatter.com earlier this year bemoaned the fact that, “London is not a cocktail town,” but found solace at the cocktail bars of St Martin’s Lane Hotel, The Zetter Townhouse and Egerton House Hotel. These, it says, are, “making an effort to reverse London’s mediocre cocktail reputation and give it the cred to compete with the likes of New York.”
London Hotels Insight previously provided an even more extensive list of the top 10 London hotel cocktail bars, several of which are located within the city’s leading boutique hotels. We look forward to updating this shortlist and to keeping you well-informed generally about exciting developments in the London boutique hotel sector in 2012.
Photo credits: bayasaa, Z Hotel Soho, Dukes Hotel, Radisson Blu Edwardian Mercer Street Hotel, Milestone Hotel.