Away from home: Exhibition on hotel development and design in London

Wednesday 5 September 2007

Away from home, a major exhibition and talks series at New London Architecture is looking at the future of hotel development in the capital. From budget to five star, London’s hotel market is currently undergoing what is arguably the biggest and most sustained period of growth in its history and the 2012 Olympic Games is set to boost growth further still.

Latest research shows that over the next five years some 11,300 hotel rooms are likely to open in the capital, with a further 8,500 in the pipeline yet to confirm completion dates. This is more hotel projects than are underway in the whole of Spain, and five times as many as there are in Moscow, With an estimated half a million people due to visit London for the Olympics, the London Plan suggests an extra 50,000 gross rooms will be required by 2026 to meet this extra demand, the equivalent of 2,500 new rooms per year. 

Peter Murray, exhibition director of New London Architecture commented,
“Even without the Olympics, London needs to provide new hotel spaces to meet increasing demand. We need to ensure that London is providing the quality of environment that matches our aspirations as a world city. Designers and operators have a key role to play in London's tourist offer whether at the luxury or economy ends of the market.”

NLA has invited some of the most influential people from the hotel industry including: Stelios Haji-Ioannou, founder of easyHotel, Gerard Greene, founder, Yotel, Herbert Ympa author of Hip Hotels to debate how the hotel industry is responding to this increase in demand. Unlike previous expansion, growth is now occurring at every level and increasingly innovation in product (design, cost and location) is the key for the leading players to maintain their edge and for new brands to break into the market.

London is leading the way in its provision of budget hotels. Travelodge, Premier Travel Inn and Accor have all announced unprecedented plans to increase their presence in London. The exhibition shows the move towards well-designed, affordable concepts brought about by the growth in the budget airline industry and the more design savvy consumer. These new ‘microtels’ use radical new design concepts to create smaller rooms like the Japanese inspired Yotel cabins designed to “offer a solution to boring and expensive hotels around the globe”, says CEO Gerard Greene. 

Sleeperz, a new company developing hotels in partnership with Network Rail across the UK, are working with Clash Associates on the reinterpretation of the railway hotel. Every single hotel is bespoke and the architectural solution for a new hotel on Lower Marsh adjacent to Waterloo Station unlocks the potential of an awkward site. The result is a dramatic urban building at this pivotal historic location with the ground floor integrating with the market. 

Three and four star brands, Intercontinental, through its Crowne Plaza, Holiday Inn, Thistle, Hilton and Marriot control an estimated 70 per cent of the market but they are mindful of losing business to hotels with more impactful design schemes. Historically conservative in their approach to design, these companies are now experimenting for example new Hiltons at London Tower Bridge and Canary Wharf by Jestico + Whiles have pushed forward the brand’s design concepts in a more contemporary direction. Elements of these room schemes will be retro-fitted into existing hotels throughout the UK. 

While the big chains dominate, design-led boutique hotels provide interesting alternatives. The exhibition includes The Rockwell (a renovation of a Victorian terrace by Squire & Partners), The Zetter (Chetwood Associates’ conversion of the Zetter pools building), and the Chiswick Moran (a conversion of a Sixties office block by Project Orange). Privately-owned Firmdale Hotels are one of the capital’s most successful ‘boutique’ operators, with a portfolio of hotels that has seen them convert everything from an empty car-parking lot at The Soho to a listed John Nash house at the recently opened The Haymarket, both using co-owner / designer Kit Kemp’s unique signature style. 

The epicenter of London’s five star market has historically been Park Lane – Grosvenor House, Hilton Park Lane, The Dorchester, Four Seasons, and Intercontinental Park Lane. Most, if not all, of these hotels are in the process of being refurbished, representing an opportunity for the architectural and construction sectors. London’s ‘Grande Dames’ need to keep up-to-date with the market. The Savoy is due to close for a £100m refurbishment, being overseen by ReardonSmith Architects, set to be one of the largest London hotel projects in recent years.

The luxury sector is also attracting interest, with several new skyscrapers set to house five star hotels. Renzo Piano’s London Bridge Tower aka the ‘Shard of Glass’ will be the European debut of luxury Asian brand Shangri-La. This 200,000 foot squared hotel will be home to 170 deluxe bedrooms, and 25 suites, some with specially designed Winter Gardens. Dubai-based Jumeirah also have plans to launch a five-star hotel within the new Beetham Tower at No.1 Blackfriars Road designed by Ian Simpson Architects. This £600m, 51-storey glass tower by the Thames, due to open in 2011, will comprise residential apartments, the Jumeirah hotel and a five-storey public viewing gallery. 

Investment in the hotel sector is at record levels as hotels are increasingly viewed by the investment community as a valid property class. One model is Jonny Sandelson’s Guestinvest. Here, investors effectively buy a room, are guaranteed a certain number of nights per annum when they can stay and the remaining nights are let out by the hotel on the investor’s behalf – blurring the line between ‘hotel’ and ‘residential’ use. Two new Guestinvest sites are under development, ‘Nest’ by Douglas Dalgliesh Architects near Paddington Station and at the former Whitbread Brewery complex in the City of London. 

Breakfast talks programme 
Allied to the exhibition are a series of high profile debates on the future of hotel development in London. Asking questions such as is this period of growth is sustainable? What effect will new planning laws have on development? Where will all these new hotels be located? Is there is room for everyone? Who will win the brand war? Will budget beat boutique? Or will chain combat luxury? What the new hotels will be like? What the hotel room of the future will look like? And how the current stock is being updated?

Breakfast is available from 8am, all talks start at 8.30am. 
Confirmed speakers include:

12 Sept Hugh Frost, Beetham Organisation and Peter Zenneck, Jumeirah
19 Sept Stelios Haji-Ioannou, easyHotel
26 Sept Herbert Ympa, Hip Hotels
03 Oct James Bidwell, Visit London
10 Oct Martin Armitstead, DTZ
17 Oct Dexter Moran, Dexter Moran Architects, Martin Potter, EPR Architects, Jonathan Manser, The Manser Practice 
24 Oct Gerard Greene, founder, Yotel
Notes to editors

• Away from Home: 6 September – 27 October at New London Architecture, The Building Centre, 26 Store Street, London, WC1E 7BT. Opening times, Monday – Friday, 9am – 6pm and Saturday, 10am – 5pm. Admission free. T: 020 7636 4044, E: 

• New London Architecture (NLA) at The Building Centre is an exhibition centre dedicated to the future of the built environment in London that is open to the public free of charge six days a week. The capital is undergoing a period of massive change and NLA is a place where everyone - professionals, politicians and the public - can find out and get involved in what is happening to the city. NLA has over 2500 visitors a week to the public exhibitions, events, talks and lectures that are organised to encourage constant debate, learning and networking across the profession and local communities -

• Principal Sponsors: Argyll, CABE, City of London, DTZ, Legal & General, Ramboll Whitbybird. 
Sponsors: Atkins, Buro Happold, Davis Langdon, Derwent London, English Partnerships, Grosvenor, Herman Miller, Minerva plc, Mott MacDonald, The Crown Estate, The Howard de Walden Estate, The Portman Estate, URS, Zumtobel Lighting. 
Partners: Arup, Assael Architecture, BDP, Beetham Organisation, bptw partnership, British Council for Offices, British Land, British Waterways, Broadgate Estates, Broadway Malyan, Buro Four, Butler & Young Group, Child Graddon Lewis Architects, Colliers CRE, David Chipperfield Architects, Development Securities, EPR, Foster + Partners, Gardiner & Theobald, GL Hearn, GMW Architects, Great Portland Estates, Hayes Davidson, Hines, HLM Architects, HOK, Holder Mathias Architects, HTA Architects, Hurford Salvi Carr, International Art Consultants, Jackson Coles, Jones Lang LaSalle, L&Q Group, London Borough of Newham, London Borough of Southwark, London Communications Agency, London Development Agency, PKS Architects, Pipers, Pollard Thomas Edwards Architects, PRP Architects, Pringle Brandon, Prudential, RMJM, Rolfe Judd Ltd, Sidell Gibson, Skidmore Owings & Merrill Inc, Stanhope, ttsp, Waterman, Westfield, Wordsearch, Workplace Intelligence

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