Cosmo Fry puts The Big Sleep Hotel business up for sale

By Peter Ruddick

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Hotel

The opening of the Cheltenham venue under Cosmo Fry's The Big Sleep Hotel brand was the subject of a 2007 ITV reality TV show - Risky Business
The opening of the Cheltenham venue under Cosmo Fry's The Big Sleep Hotel brand was the subject of a 2007 ITV reality TV show - Risky Business
Businessman Cosmo Fry has put all three hotels under The Big Sleep Hotel brand up for sale 13 years after he formed the business and nearly five years since the ITV reality TV show Risky Business followed Fry as he opened the Cheltenham hotel.

The three hotels are available to buy individually or as a package and Fry has expressed his disappointment at selling up and his hope that a larger hotel chain will buy the whole brand given its success.

The Big Sleep Hotel business was formed when Fry opened a Cardiff hotel under the name in Bute Terrace in the Welsh capital in 1999. Cheltenham followed in 2006, under close observation by the TV cameras, while the Eastbourne venue was opened in 2008 after a significant refurb.

Untapped potential

"It is extremely sad for us to be putting the hotels up for sale having put so much effort into them," Fry said, announcing the sale. 

"The most difficult thing is letting the hotels go when there is clearly so much untapped potential within the brand. There is plenty of mileage left in the Big Sleep concept and we are hoping a bigger chain will recognise this as an opportunity to acquire a bespoke hotel brand with a proven track record," he added.

Colliers International, which is handling the sale, says it expects a lot of interest in the three venues together or separately.

  • Cardiff: 81-bedroom hotel in 10-storey former British Gas offices on the market for £2m with long leaseholds invited
  • Cheltenham: 60-bedroom town hotel in a former tax office building on the market for £3m freehold
  • Eastbourne: 50-bedroom seaside hotel with a modern design in a Victorian building on the market for £1.6m freehold

Bolt from the blue

Fry, the grandson to the last member of his family to run the Fry's chocolate company before it was taken over by Cadbury's, has said he is selling up to concentrate on other business interests. These are thought to include Counter Tops - his Bath-based company that designed the furniture and fixtures and fittings for the Cardiff hotel.

Alongside his wife, former fashion writer Lulu Anderson, Fry developed the hotels to fit a 'budget designer' brand. Together they were among the first operators to convert former office space to hotels - a trend now commonplace in the industry.

"The Big Sleep brand was a bit of a bolt from the blue to the hotel industry as Lulu and I came to the sector with no background experience so we were not restrained by having to conform to anybody else’s ideas of how hotels should look or operate. We were thinking out of the box and have been able to develop the business organically."

Of the three venues Eastbourne remains Fry's favourite and holds, he says, a great deal of potential.

"The idea was to develop a sub-brand of Big Sleep on the Beach and I think we succeeded. The idea behind the larger rooms was to allow guests to recreate a sort of Big Brother on the Beach atmosphere. We were aiming to develop the theme all along the South Coast, which we see as very much uncharted territory for today’s hotel trade," he concluded.

Related topics: Business, People, Hotels, Venues

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