The West End is ready to roar again
Westminster’s 3,700 bars, restaurants and pubs, 56 theatres, 21 LGBTQI+ night time venues and world-class retail and cultural offerings are ready to jump back to life. The hotel industry will be playing a vital part in contributing to the safe and successful reopening this summer.
At Whitbread we have thankfully started to see that demand for leisure travel is returning and it is no surprise that we are expecting a busy ‘staycation’ summer this year.
We will certainly be doing everything we can as a domestically focused hotel business to inspire our customers to visit, explore and enjoy central London this summer and it is great to see the Mayor, New West End Company and other central London stakeholders doing the same through the ‘Do London’ campaign.
However it is not just a ‘nicety’ to have people back visiting the West End but an economic necessity. Through recent independent economic forecasting we have estimated that Whitbread’s trading hotels in Westminster collectively bring 397,400 additional leisure and business visitors to Westminster and London per year with a £23.4 million annual expenditure (based on 2019 Occupancy data).
We have six trading hotels in the city, three of which opened in the last five years, and are currently delivering a further three Premier Inn and hub by Premier Inn hotels in the Paddington and Marylebone area of the city.
Hotels are vital in underpinning the intricate network of workers, residents and visitors that support so many hospitality, leisure, cultural and retail businesses across the area.
We believe to further support this there must be several types of hotel accommodation including affordable brands which can be a challenge in high value prime West End locations. Our new hub by Premier Inn hotel at Berwick Street, Soho shows that it is possible and sets a very high standard for what affordable, well-managed hotel accommodation looks like in the heart of the capital.
Over the past 18-months we have seen the what the absence of visitors can do to city centres and the local economy they support.
No-one has a crystal ball, but I am firmly of the view that the lure of Westminster and central London as a global destination remains very strong. Though it may take a little while for confidence and demand to build back to what it was before the pandemic it will return. Exciting times lie ahead.
This blog was written by Jonathan Langdon, Whitbread Acquisition Manager for central London, for the Westminster Property Association newsletter.