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Premier Inn

Work Completes on New hub by Premier Inn Hotel for King’s Cross

Work complete on hub by Premier Inn King’s Cross

1000 562 Daniel Fountain

TowerEight, the leading independent project and cost management consultancy, has completed its work as project manager on the latest hub by Premier Inn hotel at London King’s Cross with Axiom Architects.

Whitbread PLC is the UK’s largest hotel operator, behind some of the UK’s most successful and well known hospitality brands. hub by Premier Inn Hotels feature innovatively designed hi tech bedrooms reflecting the needs of modern, dynamic city living.

Work Completes on New hub by Premier Inn Hotel for King’s Crosshub by Premier Inn Kings Cross is a major new build hotel and retail development on York Way in the heart of King’s Cross. The site is adjacent to Regents Canal and Granary Square overlooking the Kings Cross St Pancras transport hub.

Toby Wait, Director at TowerEight, said: “hub is a dynamic hotel brand that is targeting savvy travellers who like the integration of technology into the space but are looking for value.

Work Completes on New hub by Premier Inn Hotel for King’s Cross“The hub strategy has been a great success with six hubs open in London and two in Edinburgh, all focused on customer experience and giving consumers choice in the style of accommodation.

The new scheme includes a 389 bedroom hotel with bar, restaurant and meeting room facilities with 292m2 of retail floor space. Strong articulated volumes in yellow London stock and smooth blue brickwork with expressed industrial steelwork reflect the area’s industrial heritage. A zinc clad penthouse storey enjoys views across North London.

Work Completes on New hub by Premier Inn Hotel for King’s CrossThe tiered building form rises from three to seven storeys, sympathetic to the changing scale of the surrounding streetscape. Recessed shopfronts, and sliding-folding glazing provide active frontages on all sides.

“This is a wonderful project in a part of the capital that has changed radically in a short period of time, and our approach to hub reflects that,” explained Luke Bray at Axiom Architects.

“hub represents a new generation of compact, smart tech, modern city centre hotels. It’s about taking the comfort, convenience and consistency of a Premier Inn hotel and putting it into a smaller package. Through integration of leading technology and extensive research, we have reduced the room size without compromising comfort and promoting a distinct experience and sense of style.”

Internal courtyards faced in glazed white brick drop light into the heart of the building on down to the lower basement levels. Following a 21 month demolition and construction programme the hotel is now open and continues to trade beyond expectation with a restaurant and barbers shop shortly to occupy the retail space.

TowerEight and Axiom are working on a further 9 hub sites that are either currently on site or in planning.

Project Name: hub by Premier Inn, Kings Cross
Sector: Hotel & Retail
Project size: 9681m2 Gross Internal Area
Status: Existing – Completed 20th June 2017
Location: King’s Cross
Owner/Developer: Legal & General / Whitbread PLC
Project Manager: TowerEight
Architect: Axiom Architects
Main Contractor: McAleer & Rushe

hub by Premier Inn - Westminster, St. James' Park

hub by Premier Inn – Westminster

1000 666 Daniel Fountain

Right in the very heart of any city – London in particular – is probably not the first place one thinks of when ‘affordable accommodation’ is mentioned. But with the opening of Premier Inn’s new, technology-focussed ‘hub’ hotels in the English and Scottish capitals over the last 12 months, that is now a distinct reality.

Invited to take a look around the Westminster, St. James’ Park property earlier this year, which had opened in the October of 2016, I walk through the rather unassuming entrance and am instantly faced with a very impressive digital display complete with locale information and guest guidelines which makes up part of the check-in process for guests.

And this marks the very heart of this new concept from Premier Inn; tapping into the app-driven travel culture. With an app already downloaded, guests can use it to book a room, to check-in, get recommendations on things to see, do, eat and drink in the surrounding area – and ultimately limiting interaction with staff.

Speaking to Toby Wait of project management company TowerEight during my visit, he tells me how much travelling (for business or pleasure) has changed and continues to change. “The way apps have revolutionised our daily lives, it was only a matter of time before it became the norm in the hospitality world,” he says.

While there is no restaurant as such, the hotel does boast a lounge next to the lobby. This is a great concept – being seen more and more in economy-driven properties – with free coffee, tea and pastries all day and complimentary ‘light bites’ offered after 5pm, as well as other drinks available for purchase; it’s a modern, well-designed and well-appointed place for breakfast or evening networking drinks.

The rooms themselves, which come in ‘Standard’ and ‘Bigger’ sizes are also an excellent example of modernity and inch-perfect use of space. The white and olive-green colour scheme is tasteful and keeps the rooms feeling light and airy. A strategically positioned mirror adds to the illusion of space.

The aforementioned app allows guests to control room temperature, lights, change TV channels and take advantage of an in-room ‘augmented reality experience’ – all very clever, but for the less technically adept, there is also a perfectly functional touch screen to perform those tasks by the bed. Providing both UK and European power sockets is another thoughtful extra – meaning that guests are covered should they forget their adaptors.

hub by Premier Inn  - Westminster, St. James' Park

Due to the size of rooms, it is to be expected that storage space is at a premium, which for couples using a ‘Standard’ room might be a bit of an issue. But for solo travellers or those who pack light, the architects have made use of some clever solutions to optimise space. Plus, this is central London after all. Bathrooms are, again, ‘cosy’ but have everything a guest will need for a short stay.

A recent Telegraph Travel survey found that technology-focused hotels are becoming increasingly common and popular with travellers; with the findings showing that 42 percent of UK guests preferring to operate a room’s lighting, air conditioning and television via a display instead of using a separate remote control or switch.

With that in mind, Whitbread and TowerEight have tapped perfectly into this sector in the market with the ‘Hub’ concept. With seven London properties (including the Westminster, St. James’ hotel) and two in Edinburgh, the concept lives up to its promise and delivers both superb locations and a staggeringly competitive room-rate. In London, especially, that is a rare combination and one that I expect will only become more and more popular…

Based on a visit in January 2017
Photos: Whitbread PLC // Daniel Fountain


Premier Inn Germany - Jeremy Scarlett Blog

Guest Blog – JSJ Design’s Jeremy Scarlett: Germany’s first Premier Inn

1000 591 Guest Blog

Following the news Germany’s first Premier Inn officially opened its doors to the public last month, interior designer and Partner at JSJ Design Jeremy Scarlett gives us the inside track on the project…

The project originally came about after I was approached by Patrick Dempsey; at the time he was MD of Whitbread Hotels & Restaurants (WHR) and the company had just acquired a property in Germany.

Premier Inn Germany - Jeremy Scarlett JSJ Design

It was a big step forward in expanding Premier Inn throughout Europe and represented a brand new market. Premier Inn always had a view to bring a local designer on board; having a source of local knowledge and supplier contacts was a no-brainer. The challenge was striking the balance between what was right for the local market while communicating the existing brand.

Premier Inn Germany - Jeremy Scarlett JSJ Design

At this point I was asked to come on board as a consultant, tasked with overseeing the German designers. I’ve worked on several Premier Inn projects over the years and have a pretty in-depth understanding of the brand. The thought was if JSJ Design were involved alongside the local designers, Premier Inn would get the best of both worlds.

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That’s how it started and soon evolved into collaboration with the German designers JOI Design. We worked together to form a concept that was right for Frankfurt and the wider German market, while also representing the best elements of Premier Inn.

Premier Inn Germany - Jeremy Scarlett JSJ Design

We also developed some elements of the brand that didn’t really exist before; in the UK Premier Inn isn’t concerned about appearing British as it’s on home turf, but in Germany it became the point of difference. For us as the designers, it was a question of how to bring across the ‘Britishness’ of the brand without being too obvious or cheesy.

Premier Inn Germany - Jeremy Scarlett JSJ Design

The overall look and feel has been loosely described as a ‘contemporary British library’ theme, which came from an exploration of what it means to be British. Literature plays a big part in our history, from Shakespeare to Lewis Carroll, and we played with the illustratable and quotable elements of several classic texts in the design. We also incorporated traditional furniture styles such as the Chesterfield sofas, alongside accessories such as colourful porcelain versions of the iconic British Bulldog.

Premier Inn Germany - Jeremy Scarlett JSJ Design

The reaction so far has been really good. I’ve heard some comments from German members of the Premier Inn team who say while the British elements are very subtle they are also very distinct. While its not overwhelming, people realize it’s a British hotel and the fact that is understated is what makes it work.


Premier Inn Frankfurt Messe

Germany’s first Premier Inn opens with a twist of British charm

987 621 Daniel Fountain

Frankfurt Messe Premier Inn officially opened to the public last week, marking Whitbread’s first  hotel of the brand in Germany. Adopting European-style open-plan lounge, dining and reception areas, the new hotel remains true to its heritage and carries a distinct British charm.

Ensuring consistency of the look and feel of the hotel brand overseas, Whitbread employed trusted design partner, JSJ Design. Sarah Simpson, Head of Product for Premier Inn said: “JSJ led the entire design process from partner brief to detailed decision-making to final design sign-off. As one of our lead design partners, they played a critical role in ensuring successful delivery of the Frankfurt hotel with a distinctive design tailored to the German market.”

Germany's first Premier Inn opens with a twist of British charm

Designing many of Premier Inn’s latest UK hotel interiors, including the chain’s flagship hotel in Kings Cross and the new strand of tech-driven hub hotels, JSJ has formed a deep understanding of the brand. Tasked with adapting that knowledge to a new market was Jeremy Scarlett, Interior Designer and JSJ Design co-founder. He said: “I’ve worked on various Premier Inn projects over the last ten years and while they’re all unique, Frankfurt Messe is like no other. Setting it apart from the UK hotels, the focus for the entire ground floor was to create a versatile public space, functional through day and night. In achieving this, the brand is moving away from pure function and into a realm where customer experience is key. It will seriously raise traveller expectations of budget hotels.”

JSJ Design collaborated with Hamburg-based designers JOI Design to ensure the quintessentially English brand catered for local tastes. In addition to the open-plan communal areas, points of differentiation can be found in the bedrooms and bathrooms, where showers replace baths and an imaginative new room layout was developed to meet the expectations of the German guest.

Germany's first Premier Inn opens with a twist of British charm

Elsewhere, understated nods to English heritage can be found throughout the hotel, from Chesterfield sofas to the iconic British Bulldog. Scarlett commented: “Building on the subtle but distinct English sense of humour, Frankfurt Messe features an array of strategically placed accessories, typically associated with London and all things British. Embracing our quirks adds bags of character and brings a little cheekiness to the interior.”

Natural wood and dark warm tones are offset by bright shades of turquoise, sunny yellow accents and pink and purple highlights. Statement pendant lighting creates distinct areas and sets the tone for the use of space, from focused and bright in the Work Zone, to warm and cosy in the lounge and dining areas. The result is a contemporary multipurpose space that adapts to meet the changing needs of guests throughout their stay.

Premier Inn, Woking (Patrick Goff)

1000 666 Daniel Fountain

The British brewing industry has, in general, been a pretty miserable business management failure. However, two of the largest of the big brewers have been very successful in moving their business away from beers and pubs into hospitality. The famous Manet painting ‘A Bar at the Folies-Bergère’, depicting the Bass triangle on bottles of Bass Pale Ale, perhaps hints that Bass was the first to make the transition, culminating with its purchase of Holiday Inn and growing successfully into the world’s largest hotel operator, InterContinental Hotels Group.

Whitbread was a famous brewing name and for many years grew by acquiring (and pledging to keep) many idiosyncratic UK brewers such as the Boddington’s brewery in Manchester. However at some point the management realised that this romantic real ale traditionalist view of the industry was not going to work profitably in the face of the continuous decline in beer drinking in the UK. Eventually the group followed Bass in moving its mainstream business out of brewing and into the broader realm of Hospitality. Now Whitbread has a spread of half a dozen brands, including the UK’s largest budget chain, Premier Inn, with a continuous programme of expansion in the UK, Ireland, and now Dubai and India.


Premier Inn Woking

Premier Inn Woking

The expansion of the group is underpinned by the maintenance of profitability in the budget sector during the 2009 recession with underlying profits falling only around three per cent. Whilst there has been a great deal of publicity for the fight between Travelodge and Premier for the title of Britain’s leading budget chain, it perhaps a little unfair to see Travelodge as the primary competitor for the Whitbread chain. More appropriately it might be better to consider Premier Inn as a competitor for Campanile or even possibly Holiday Inn, as unlike Travelodge and other budget operators such as Ibis orEtap, Premier offers a full food service using its associated restaurant operations such as Beefeater or one of the other of its six brands in the food sector.

Premier Inn Woking is built at the side of Woking canal in a quiet location. Woking in Surrey is a surprising town growing from a market garden centre to today’s hi-tech home to McLaren and Directory company Wandsworth. The growth of the town was spurred first by the canal then by the railways and today it has a thriving local business community as well as strong commuter links into London. The architecture of the hotel is deliberately evocative of canal side warehousing with a little of farm buildings influence, all built around a previously existing canal side pub restaurant.

Those who are not familiar with Whitbread eateries may be surprised at the change being wrought in the food operation. Many hotels could learn good lessons from the healthy breakfast options, and the healthy nature of much of the offerings in the remaining meals, despite the reputation of these operations for old fashioned English pub catering. English food has changed greatly over the last 15 years and Whitbread has moved with the tide whilst keeping traditional. The standard English breakfast may still be the main offering, but not only is the healthy alternative available, but it is also given at a very competitive price. Like Travelodge, which grew out of its affinity with Little Chef and who’s menus have been so publicly reworked recently, Premier Inn took path of adding bedrooms where they had an existing pub food outlet, becoming a new twist to the tradition of the English Inn and taking many design cues from its origins.

The food operation therefore may well be pub eatery based, but the majority of the meats are char grilled, one of the healthiest ways to prepare meat. The design also remains steadfastly linked to traditional pub design, with dark timbers, hard floors and all the other touches that make pub dining the English equivalent to the Italian trattoria in its implementation of traditional folk design. It is from these roots that traditions in hotel keeping have grown. Whether from the German Gasthaus, French Pension, or English Inn the image of ‘mine host’ in an apron greeting a traveller to his inn is the hallmark of expectation for a guest.

Premier Inn Woking rooms

Rooms at the Premier Inn, Woking

Measured against this image, the Premier Inn did not fail. A smiling and friendly greeting conformed to the expectation – an expectation more superior hotels fail to meet (as Olga Polizzi once observed to me, “if you can’t smile at the guest, why work in hospitality?”) Reception is minimalist but functions effectively. The explanations of the food operation, the offer of a daily paper, were clear, simple and offered with enthusiasm. When pressed, the staff across the whole operation were fulsome in their praise of Whitbread as an employer, and the hotel operation was testimony to the effectiveness of the brand management and training.

Whitbread offer a clear money back guarantee if the guest doesn’t get a comfortable clean room and a good night’s sleep. Unfortunately here the new extension, whilst offering new design rooms, has been located badly alongside the car park entrance to the busy restaurant. The result is noise complaints from rooms overlooking the exit from the car park. There must be a good reason why the architect did not position the building nearer to the canal, which despite the busy road on the other side, would probably have been a quieter solution. However the rooms in the main hotel block were very quiet, overlooking a school playing field complex and abutting the canal – now a strip of nature that makes the walk into Woking centre a delightful expedition.

The corporate colours of violet and yellow are handled with subtlety, and the rooms are fitted out to the standard pattern, with en-suite bathrooms. The new design has the current fashion for large bedhead and LED bedhead lights. The work desk is large and there is free Wifi with simple connection and the desk has the sockets sensibly placed for easy access. Design is unremarkable, simple but effective. Lighting is adequate, as is the bathroom, if slightly dull.
If the competition is considered to come from Holiday Inn then the price differential , with Premier competing on price with Travelodge, is essential as the Holiday Inn interiors are far superior. Here the offering is comparable to the Travelodge chain and there is surely potential here for the rooms to be taken slightly more upmarket, as this position would be supported by the in-house food operation so missing from most Travelodges (although the revamped Little Chef may offer the competition).
If Campanile achieve their early target of 60 outlets of the quality we have reviewed in Swindon and Northampton, then both of these UK budget leaders could face a severe challenge from Barry Sternlicht’s revival of the French brand.

Premier Inn Woking

Bar area at the Premier Inn, Woking


© Words and images by Patrick Goff

Casegoods, reception desk, meeting room furniture etc. by AMS Group official supplier to all UK Premier Inns