London seems to be booming right now. And this month I’ve seen first-hand how the hotel industry is reacting to the upturn in the market, even donning a hard hat and hi-vis jacket to get a sneak peek at some new boutique openings in the capital. The Hoxton in Holborn, the new Artist Residence in Pimlico and not technically a boutique, but the interesting Mondrian down on the banks of the River Thames; stylish, design-led hotels are popping up in pockets all over. Along with this, there’s been a real resurgence of ‘pubs with rooms’ carving a niche in the sector, in a bid to target the business guest seeking that real home-from-home.
With the sector feeling buoyant, it seems perfectly timed that the third annual Independent Hotel Show graced London’s Olympia at the end of October. Since its launch in 2012, it’s become a hot talking point within the industry, mirroring the positivity felt from hospitality businesses around the country, and not just in the capital. A definite highlight for me was ‘An Audience with Robin Hutson’, hosted by the charismatic Peter Hancock, who promised he would be sure to ask the original innovator of the boutique hotel some revealing questions, and he didn’t disappoint. It was so exciting to see the two-day event unfold.
Our very first Boutique Hotelier Personal Service Star Awards took place on the first evening of the Independent Hotel Show too. For months we geared up to host the inaugural accolades, with both excitement and disguised nervousness at the fact that my colleague Anne-Marie and I would make our stage debut as presenters on the actual night.
But the Awards went without a hitch and the response from those who attended was overwhelming; seeing members of staff, both the young and the slightly older(!), recognised for their talents and efforts in their job roles was fantastic to witness. Bosses from big name hotels were among the audience and each manager and employee beamed with pride when one of their own took to the stage. Each resounding cheer and individual clap managed to give me goosebumps.
With the challenging market conditions, the stressful customer situations and the potentially low wages, working in the hospitality industry is no mean feat and we were honoured to present our Awards to employees who prove their salt each and every day with a genuine passion for the hotel they are working in.