Hotels & Accommodation

Hotels are a very good indicator of the state of the economy because they reflect the demand from business users during the week and from leisure users at weekends. Strong demand is a barometer of economic confidence, as is investment by hotel groups or by smaller proprietors in new capacity or in refurbishing and upgrading their existing accommodation.

We very much welcome this, as it has long been recognised that hotel use is one excellent way of providing an economic future for large historic buildings; equally hotel owners and managers gain competitive advantage from being able to offer the special experience of staying in buildings that are rich in history and character.

St Pancras Renaissance Hotel

The sumptuous neo-Gothic masterpiece that is the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, originally opened in 1873 and soon acquired an excellent reputation as an upmarket, 300-room hotel noted for its lavish interiors and many innovative features. Following its closure in 1935, the former hotel remained in limbo, initially used as offices then boarded up and empty, until the decision was made to turn St Pancras into the terminus of the High Speed 1 rail route between London and the Channel Tunnel.

A major challenge in bringing the hotel back into use was the need for additional accommodation. Once we were convinced that this was essential if the hotel was to be economically viable, the task was to ensure that the large new bedroom extension block to be added to the western side of Scott's masterpiece would enhance and not detract from the original building. Our staff provided detailed advice on the many historical and technical aspects of the scheme, which re-opened in 2011 and has since been voted the 'Number One Hotel' in the UK in The Sunday Times Magazine's poll of the Top 100 Hotels in the World.

King's Cross is flourishing and it is hugely exciting for the hotel to stand so centrally and so dominantly in what is currently the largest area of urban redevelopment in Europe. Over the coming years the regeneration of the whole of the King's Cross area into the capital's international business and cultural quarter, will make the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel and its setting one of London's proudest achievements of the early 21st century.

Kevin Kelly, General Manager, St Pancras Renaissance Hotel

DEVELOPER: Marriott Hotels
ARCHITECTS: RHWL Architects / Richard Griffiths
LEAD PARTNERS: Camden Council, the Manhattan Loft Corporation

Hellifield Peel

Ancient monuments are not often converted for domestic use, but Francis and Karen Shaw have succeeded in turning Hellifield Peel, which is both a Scheduled Monument and a Grade II listed tower house, into a small hotel. The Shaw family started out with the remains of a 14th-century tower which had been vandalised fifty years previously and left to rot - indeed, the Heritage at Risk register warned that it was in imminent danger of collapse. Numerous visits by our staff documented the continuing decay of the site, so the Shaw family's sympathetic scheme to rescue the building and its important park landscape was welcomed.

We made a number of contributions to the project, including a thorough survey of the building's interior and exterior. This informed the decisions that were then taken about the significance of the different features and the best way to enhance their contribution to the design, using historic building materials and techniques. That ancient monument in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales is now the base for a thriving business, recently hailed by the Independent newspaper as one of Britain's fifty best B&Bs.

DEVELOPER: Francis and Karen Shaw
ARCHITECT: Francis Shaw

The Salthouse Harbour Hotel

The Salthouse Harbour Hotel in Ipswich first opened in 2003, after the Victorian 'John Good' warehouse was sensitively converted to create a 43-bedroom 'boutique' hotel. Effective use was made of the building's massive structural features to provide an original and highly successful design, and this family-run hotel has since won a number of awards.

Building on this success, the owners sought permission to construct a six-storey extension on land alongside the converted warehouse. Historic England gave advice on fitting the new building into this extremely important historic setting, where the design needed to take account of the character and appearance of two Conservation Areas and the setting of several Grade I and Grade II* listed buildings. The result is a new building that has enhanced the highly visible waterfront setting, whilst giving the hotel the 27 additional bedrooms, new reception area and other facilities that it needed to develop its business.

We are delighted to have created a modern landmark on the waterfront, in tune with our contemporary business philosophy. The success of the hotel since completion has been demonstrated by numerous awards ranging from East of England Hotel of the Year, to Trip Advisers' Top Funkiest Hotels for 2012. We are convinced that the design of the building has been central to its success.

Robert Gough, proprietor of the Salthouse Harbour Hotel.

DEVELOPER: The Salthouse Harbour Hotel
ARCHITECT: Barefoot & Gilles Architects

The London Syon Park Waldorf Astoria Hotel

The London Syon Park Waldorf Astoria Hotel sits within the registered park surrounding Syon House. The house is Grade I listed and the park was designed by Capability Brown. That such a large park, bordered by the River Thames and by the Royal Botanical Garden, Kew, should have survived without development is very unusual in London and this naturally had an impact on the decision whether, at this stage in the estate's history, it was right to construct a new hotel on this site. We, under our former name of English Heritage, saw the hotel scheme as a positive way to solve the heritage deficit of the site - the gap between the income that a heritage asset earns and the cost of its maintenance. Discreetly sited, the hotel provides an income stream for investment in much-needed enhancements to Syon House and the restoration of the park. It has created a business use where none existed previously and brought new capital investment, jobs and business opportunities to a relatively depressed part of London.

The opening of the Syon Park Hotel was the culmination of a ten-year process to put in place a comprehensive scheme for the long-term restoration and maintenance of Syon House and Park, which has been in the ownership of my family for over four hundred years. English Heritage [now Historic England] took a very positive approach from the beginning of the project as the proposals were developed and refined prior to submission of a formal application for Planning and Listed Building Consent.

The Duke of Northumberland, owner.

DEVELOPERS: The Duke of Northumberland and Ability Group
ARCHITECTS: Ettwein Bridges, Kim Wilkie (Landscape)
LEAD PARTNER: Waldorf Astoria Hotels