Sheffield boutique hotel goes on the market

A FOUR star boutique hotel in Sheffield city centre has been put up for sale.

“Substantial offers” are being invited for the Leopold Hotel in Leopold Street in the heart of Sheffield. The Grade-II listed property started life at the turn of the 19th century as a boys’ Grammar school.  In 2007, the building was refurbished and converted in to an 89-bedroom boutique hotel.

The Leopold also has a bar, restaurant/breakfast room, small gym and conferencing/wedding facilities.

Julian Troup, Head of UK Hotels Agency at Colliers International, said: “The Leopold Hotel is Sheffield’s only four star boutique hotel and attracts business from Sheffield’s corporate market, together with tourist and function related business.

“The hotel has good quality room stock and facilities and is well positioned to compete in the local market place. The hotel has the potential to be branded, which could enable a purchaser to enhance the earnings and profitability of the business.”

Marketing details for the hotel are available here.

The Leopold Hotel is one of BoutiqueHotels.co.uk’s featured boutique hotels in Sheffield.

Leeds boutique hotel acquired by Splendid Hospitality Group

SPLENDID Hospitality Group has announced the acquisition of a 34-bedroom boutique hotel in the heart of Leeds city centre.

The Art Deco-styled New Ellington Hotel in York Place, Leeds, features two conference rooms and a dedicated gin bar. Jazz references are present throughout the hotel which draws inspiration for its name from a visit to Leeds by Duke Ellington in the late 1950s.

Announcing the new addition to Splendid’s portfolio, Stuart Bailey, CEO, commented: “We are delighted to acquire the New Ellington Hotel which enhances our existing collection, giving us a stronger accommodation proposition in the region. This boutique hotel is ideally located for both the business and leisure traveller and we look forward to welcoming guests to the hotel.”

Other hotels in the Splendid Hospitality Group portfolio include the Conran London St James and the Grand Hotel and Spa in York.

The New Ellington Hotel is included in the BoutiqueHotels.co.uk guide to boutique hotels in Leeds.

Council backs new boutique hotel in Waterloo

PLANS for a new boutique hotel in London’s Waterloo have been given the green light.

Councillors on the Lambeth Council’s Planning Committee last night approved the proposal for a new 40-bedroom hotel in Lower Marsh, a short walk from Waterloo station.

The site is made up of four Victorian terrace properties which currently provide retail, residential with what was Steve’s Bed and Breakfast. The approved scheme, designed by architects Kyson, will see a partial demolition and redevelopment of the site with the same mix of uses.

An earlier application to completely demolish and redevelop the 3/4 storey site as a boutique hotel was withdrawn earlier this year in response to council officer concerns.

Read our London guides to boutique hotels

Picture: Kyson Architects

Councillors back new boutique hotel proposal in Bury St Edmunds

PLANS have been approved for a new nine bedroom boutique hotel in Bury St Edmunds, Suffolk.

The change-of-use proposals from Chestnut Group were backed by councillors on the local authority’s Development Control Committee last week.

Chestnut purchased the Victorian property Ounce House, which was originally a pair of private semi detached dwellings, in January 2015.

The successful proposal to convert the three storey property in Northgate Street into a boutique hotel comes after the council initially refused planning permission earlier this year.

Chestnut Managing Director Philip Turner, pictured above (right) with Group General Manager Steve Smith, commented: “It has been a challenging time but the important thing is that we have the right result. We have listened to the concerns of the neighbours and have amended the plans accordingly where the suggestions were feasible but still commercial.

“This means that this is a very considered and well-thought-out development and we now look forward to focussing our energy on revitalising a rather tired building into a vibrant boutique hotel to be enjoyed by both residents of, and visitors to, the beautiful historic town which is Bury St Edmunds.”

The new boutique hotel is scheduled to open in the summer of 2016. Chestnut also own the Packhorse Inn near Newmarket and the Rupert Brooke in Grantchester.

 

Interview: David Selves, Faversham Creek Hotel

David Selves isn’t a man who likes to sit still. That’s either in his business ventures – we’re here to discuss the success of his Faversham Creek Hotel, which he opened in 2014 – or literally. While filling me in on a few of the hotel’s delights and challenges, he leaps up to straighten a light fitting and runs over to adjust the temperature in a bedroom, satisfying himself that things are just so. Similarly, his conversation happily jumps from topic to topic, ranging from the ancient Frost Fairs on the Thames to the BBC, before bringing the anecdotes to bear on what he’s created in Faversham.

Born and raised in London, David left school at 15 (not realising that he was dyslexic until his son was diagnosed, he says), becoming what he describes as a “serial entrepreneur”. His distinguished career encompassed many things before he became owner of the Faversham Creek Hotel. David’s varied interests include establishing the London Grill Club, which specialises in putting famous people “to the flame” with some tough questions. “No wonder people who come here for job interviews here get something of a hard time,” he jokes.

“I set out to create somewhere I’d like to go”

Ending up in Faversham was something of a lucky accident. David was seeking a house within 90 minutes of London, and was given a tip-off about a site in Faversham. There he discovered Abbey Street, one of the finest medieval streets in Britain before, two and a half years later, finally buying a house there. Next door, you’ll find the Phoenix, the pub bought by David in 2009 after its previous owners went bust. David explains, “Faversham didn’t then have what I would consider to be a nice pub. I set out to create somewhere I’d like to go – no games machines, no TVs, no alcopops. Instead, I wanted nice Chesterfields, big log fires and somewhere where women would be happy to go by themselves. And it works,” he adds with satisfaction. “It works very well.”

Not everyone has judged his success the same way. “If people were being cruel they’d say I was being an opportunist,” David admits. But, he continues, “If they were being kind, they would say, well, he sees an opportunity and knows how to make it work.” It was exactly that logic that led him to create the Faversham Creek Hotel. While there were several pubs with rooms within the town, there was no boutique hotel offering. Having sensed the market demand, when this historic building – dating back to the 18th century – became available, David and his wife, Tracy, set about satisfying it.

“Something of comfort and quality”

Their aim was to create “something of comfort and quality. Almost as if coming into the home. And we got four stars from the AA within six months,” David adds, justifiably proud. One reason given for the hotel’s success is its personal touch. Tracy is often there at breakfast, for example, or checking guests in. The rave reviews online tell a similar story, as do the number of repeat visitors over the first year the hotel has been open.

There have also been quite a few amusing incidents, such as the wedding party who had booked the Faversham Creek Hotel for their tier of guests, until the bride and groom saw the rooms and liked them so much that they made their guests swap! Or the grandparents who happily decamp to the hotel when their family come to stay and let their children and grandchildren take over their own home, seemingly a growing trend – “we’ve had four incidents of that in the last six months!”, David tells me.

“A lifetime of experiences”

David brought what he describes as “a lifetime of experiences” to the hotel. This encompasses specifics – such as paint colours used within his own homes, or wallpaper he’s previously admired – but, importantly, also the maturity to be able “bring it all together”. In addition, David wasn’t afraid to risk a few raised eyebrows from Faversham residents. In the months before opening, David put out a press release they had installed £3,500 worth of granite to the hotel loos, knowing it would bring curious locals to the building site and, ultimately, the hotel.

And David was typically hands on in the hotel’s renovation. As project manager, he describes how his team worked their way through the building, room by room. As might be expected while working on a building that dates back to 1723, built as a merchant’s house and has been by turns the town’s coal exchange and the pub, there were a few discoveries as they went along. A painting was discovered on one wall, hidden under decades of wallpapers, and possibly dating back to the 18th century. David took the decision to partly restore it, and it now happily sits along Quentin Blake cockatoo wallpaper in the stairwell.

These tweaks aside, David says that “in terms of the concept of the final product, it is 98% what I sat on the floor one night and envisaged.” Each of the eight bedrooms has been given a different concept, inspired by an individual wallpaper design, and adapted to the historic quirks of the room. Antique furniture complements the aesthetic perfectly and there are some show-stopping pieces, including a stunning four-poster bed in the Queen Matilda Room (below). That’s all alongside the luxury comforts you’d associate with a boutique hotel stay.

bh_favershamcreek

An entirely local team worked on the renovation, with the exception of the tiler – who came from nearby Herne Bay – and known to David from the Phoenix. In an additional tribute to the local area, each bedroom is named after a different person connected to Faversham’s history, from the magician Robert Heller to the murderess Alice Arden, who inspired the 16th-century play, Arden of Faversham.

“Never be afraid to make a mistake”

Although both the Phoenix and the Faversham Creek Hotel gave David the opportunity to create profitable businesses as well as “something to do”, they also – importantly for him – allowed him to contribute to the local community. David describes the mix of clientele he gets in the pub – from postmen to barrister – “all sitting down chatting, which is what they do every Thursday night. And that’s what makes society cohesive.”

It’s from a mix of people “all sitting down chatting” that David believes great ideas are born. And it’s ideas that really make him excited, even though he’s aware that only “2 percent will work. When I walk in to a room and I say ‘I’ve had an idea’, my staff run for the hills!”, he jokes. Whether establishing a boutique hotel or any other business, the important thing, David believes, is to “never be afraid to make a mistake. Your mind should always be open.”

“We’ve set a bar for the local”

And, when it comes to Britain’s towns, David credits independent businesses for driving “this or any other town forward. That requires flair, imagination, initiative and being brave.” I suggest he’s been responsible for bringing that to Faversham. Noting my compliment, he continues, “The Chairman of Chamber of Commerce kindly said that what we’ve done is set a new level, we’ve raised the bar for the local. If you look at Faversham now, everyone has copied me. The town is definitely changing for the better and other people have been kind enough to say that I’ve been a catalyst.”

Of course, what inevitably follows is the challenge of staying ahead and moving forward. Another relatively new project for David has been the Faversham Food Festival, which made its debut in 2014 (again, born out of a conversation in the pub). David’s all too aware that “it’s too easy to get too clever, to think you’re important. You’re not, you have to carry on, wherever you set your bar, and you have to work very hard to maintain it.” Having witnessed the enthusiasm with which he talks to guests and staff alike, I can believe he’s more than happy to put in the necessary the elbow grease to keep his businesses at the top of their game.

Typically, there are lots of ideas bubbling away as to what might be the next challenge for David. He’s envisaged a third offering in Faversham that will tie into the services already offered by the pub and the hotel. Or he could franchise his hotel concept and take it to similar towns. Although he’s been encouraged by Tracy to take the occasional day off, he seems unlikely to slow down any time soon. As he tells me, “I haven’t grown-up and I don’t intend to!”