Five years ago, Whitbread launched hub by Premier Inn – our stylish compact hotel brand – in a bid to target city centre locations where space is at a premium and where our customers wish to stay.
After seeing the brand perform well and grow in London and Edinburgh city centres, we now have bold ambitions to take hub by Premier Inn to the next level – by expanding the brand to other urban areas around the country.
The hub by Premier Inn brand differs from Premier Inn in that the hotels offer more compact rooms – approximately half the size of a ‘standard’ Premier Inn room – with a contemporary design style, a focus on technology and a relaxed ‘lounge’-style food and beverage (F&B) offering. What is unchanged is the ethos of providing consistently high-quality accommodation, exceptional value and excellent customer service that Premier Inn is well known for.
Although it is dangerous to generalise, hub by Premier Inn hotels naturally have greater appeal to business guests and aspirational leisure travellers – people who want an excellent location, a stylish product and a competitive price point and are less concerned about the size of the bedroom.
The first hub by Premier Inn opened on St Martin’s Lane in Covent Garden in 2015 following a year of intense design and customer research, testing and refinement. Since then, hub has grown to 11 trading hotels in London and Edinburgh and a further six are either on site or in the secured development pipeline in the capital. We have built a brand of 3,000 stylish compact hotel rooms and, as with Premier Inn, the hub by Premier Inn hotels are a mixture of Whitbread-owned freehold and developer-led leasehold schemes.
A design-led offer
Great contemporary design has always been at the heart of hub by Premier Inn. In creating the hub bedroom, we used every inch of available space, included high-quality fittings and focused relentlessly on ensuring guest comfort. We also packed the room with technology and created a dedicated guest app. The initial design testing paid off as we have not needed to update the room design – our customers continue to enjoy it and leave very positive reviews.
What has evolved as the hub by Premier Inn brand has grown is the look and feel of the communal areas. As the network expanded, the F&B area evolved into a lounge format – as exemplified by the hugely successful hub by Premier Inn hotels at King’s Cross and Westminster Abbey – with freestanding cocktail bar, sofa seating and spaces for socialising and working.
In these lounge spaces, a continental guest breakfast is served in the morning, free tea and coffee is available during the day and light bites and good-value drinks and sharing plates are available in the evening. They are living rooms in the city – a place to get together, work, relax and enjoy a drink and a light bite before heading out and experiencing the vibrant local area.
This lounge concept works in large and small spaces – the lounge at our smallest hub by Premier Inn at Bank in the City of London is only 65 sq m. The Goodge Street hub by Premier Inn has proved that the concept works equally well above high street retail spaces as it does at ground level. Irrespective of their size and location, the spaces are popular and are used as much by hotel guests as by workers and residents from the local area.
Flexibility is key to brand’s success
One of the key enablers of the growth of hub is Whitbread’s flexible approach to development. We are experts at developing new freestanding hotels and converting existing office buildings, a reuse that gives outdated buildings a new lease of life, is sustainable and really drives the value of the property.
The format also suits mixed-use developments. For example, in Farringdon we are about to start the construction of a 180-bedroom hub by Premier Inn alongside 39,000 sq ft of office space and three retail/ workspace units. Down the road in Shoreditch, we are on site building a new hotel behind retained facades.
The next generation of hub by Premier Inn sites in London are likely to be part of similar mixed-use schemes and vibrant local areas. We continue to seek sites across zones one and two as well as in popular urban villages such as Camden, Hackney, Hampstead, Twickenham and Vauxhall. We are looking at 30 new locations for hub across the capital.
Expansion across the UK
On top of this, we have recently announced the intention to grow hub by Premier Inn in strategic cities across the UK – in locations such as Bath, Brighton, Cambridge and Oxford – as well as cities across the north, Scotland and Dublin in Ireland.
Our development requirements in these markets are no different than in London and Edinburgh – we want hub by Premier Inn hotels to be in prime, central and well-connected locations, and we have the development expertise to make challenging and compromised sites work. As with Premier Inn, all leasehold hub by Premier Inn hotels also benefit from the strength of the Whitbread-backed covenant.
With 28 target cities on the hub requirements list outside London and Edinburgh – and opportunities across the capital – the number of hub by Premier Inn hotels could double over the next five years. While hub by Premier Inn may never be the size of Premier Inn, it has the potential to become a very well-established and successful hotel brand in its own right. Our ambition is to take it to the next level and establish the first truly national compact hotel brand.
About hub by Premier Inn
• Whitbread’s compact hotel brand
• The brand has grown to 3,000 bedrooms across London and Edinburgh in the past five years
• Now targeting expansion in towns and cities across the UK and continued growth in London
• Significant new openings this financial year include Bank in the City of London and West Brompton
• Suits central city centre locations and busy transport interchanges
• Freehold and leasehold sites required
PW Perspectives: winter 2019
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Rapid growth lies ahead for hub by Premier Inn