Revolutionary low-price London hotel opens this week

Reply Sun 27 Aug, 2006 02:12 am
Pret a dormir from £1 a night

Sandwich mogul Sinclair Beecham opens his revolutionary low-price London hotel this week.
Tom Robbins got a preview

Sunday August 27, 2006
The Observer

Sinclair Beecham is an angry man. 'I paid £2.50 for a Mars bar in a hotel the other day,' he says, gesticulating wildly. 'I mean, what do they think I am? In business you've got to treat your customers with respect, not like dumb bastards. That's why I wanted to open a hotel, because I find it so frustrating.'
Amid the clang of workmen's hammers, Beecham is showing me around the result of that frustration: the newly built 205-room Hoxton Hotel, which opens in London on Friday. The co-founder of the Pret a Manger sandwich chain, who has invested more than £1m of his own money in the project, whirls about happily, checking the finish on the lift floors and greeting every security guard and labourer by name. But when we get on to the subject of hotel pricing, he starts pacing up and down, and hopping from foot to foot.

'How much does it cost for a call to America? I'll tell you: 2p a minute. But in a hotel they charge £2.50. What the **** is that? Why would you do that to a customer?'

Er, to make money?

'But that's the joke: they don't make any because nobody uses the phones. You're charging 100 times the price and you're not making any ******* money, I mean give me a break. It's insane.'

Everywhere you look in Beecham's hotel there are no-nonsense feel-good touches: the internet is free, so is the coffee and the mineral water in the bedrooms, and the Pret breakfast left on a hook outside each morning. Instead of a ruinous minibar, you buy wine, champagne, beer and snacks at the reception desk for normal shop prices.

But all this is window-dressing next to the really revolutionary idea: a room pricing system borrowed from the budget airlines. It starts with attention-grabbing special offers - five rooms are sold off at £1 a night - then there are some for £29, and thereafter the price rises steadily and transparently the later you book. At the moment, weekend nights for the next month come in at just £59.

There's no denying you get a lot of room for your money. The mattresses are by Hypnos ('same as at the Metropolitan', says Beecham), the towels thick and fluffy ('same as Claridge's') and the lighting soft and discreet ('done by same company as the Schrager hotels'). The TVs are flat screen and swivel so you can watch in bed, the bathrooms small but swanky, with huge shower heads and full-length mirrors.

The corridors on each of the six floors are lit with different coloured lights and there's lots of exposed metal, giving a slightly unwelcome echo of Beecham's previous business. The decor isn't exactly exciting and the lobby's industrial design - polished concrete floor, exposed bricks, dark wood - is getting slightly passe in this cutting-edge part of London. But let's be frank: for the money, and compared with Britain's other mid-range hotels, it's jaw-droppingly good.

When I wish Beecham good luck, he earnestly replies: 'Thanks, we'll need it.' But it all seems so sensible, so reasonable, that you can't help think that, luck or no, this is the face of hotels to come.


Hotel's website
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Reply Sun 27 Aug, 2006 03:02 am
In a similar vein I have often wondered if a basic basic model car would actually sell.

I'm talking about no air con, great big spedometer smack in the middle of the dash, vinyl bench seats no bells no whistles.

a sort of 50's style car without all the extras we have come to expect these days

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Reply Sun 1 Oct, 2006 09:44 am
Thanks for the info Walter. I checked it out...here is the web sitehttp://www.hoxtonhotels.com/specialoffers.php
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Walter Hinteler
Reply Sun 1 Oct, 2006 09:49 am
martybarker wrote:
Thanks for the info Walter. I checked it out...here is the web sitehttp://www.hoxtonhotels.com/specialoffers.php

Yeap - I gave it above as well :wink:
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Reply Sun 1 Oct, 2006 09:54 am
Oops, I missed that. Smile
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