In its 2014 travel trends report released earlier this week, national tourist board VisitEngland has looked at a number of progressions in the hotel sector that could shape UK holidays in 2014.
The first emerging phenomenon is that of the luxury hostel, or ‘poshtel’. VisitEngland believes ‘glamping’ is going one step further next year, with budget holidaymakers and backpackers opting for homier comforts at prices similar to that of other cheap accommodation.
One recent example of this is Hoax, a joint venture between hotel operator Starboard Hotels and real estate firm Union Hanover Securities. The luxury hostel brand launched earlier this year, with a 49-bedroom, 244-bed property opening in Liverpool.
Targeted at young consumers under the age of 35, the venue includes a number of en-suite rooms and a ground-floor F&B operation called Hopskotch Street Kitchen & Bar which offers international street food.
The brand's backers are already planning to expand the concept to the capital and beyond, with Eric Jafari, founder and chief executive of financial backers Bridgepoint Ventures, telling BigHospitality ‘consumers have developed from aspirational spenders to value seekers’.
"The hotel industry has misinterpreted this shift as being a rise of the budget sector,” said Jafari. “However, the reason why the budget end of the hotel industry has profited is because of the lack of options."
Citing Citizen M and Motel One as other examples, Jafari said consumers were now demanding more for their money. "It has been historically assumed that the only means to deliver good F&B and design-led hotels is through a high-cost fit out. Consequently high cost in development equates to high costs to the consumer.
"A combination of access to easy personal debt and high per capita income fostered strong performance for these concepts but a new type of lodging experience has emerged: affordable luxury."
And the ‘poshtel’ trend looks set to continue. The Youth Hostels Association (YHA) has recently spent over £10million on refurbishments, creating not just private rooms with en-suite bathrooms but bridal suites with roll-top baths and four-poster beds and even on-site art galleries.
Meanwhile, the Safestay Hostel in London’s Elephant & Castle was recently awarded four stars in VisitEngland’s accommodation quality assurance scheme. The hostel, situated in an 18th century Georgian building, features private twin rooms and family rooms with 40-inch plasma TVs. The joint venture between Moorfield Group and Safeland is one of series of luxury hostels to open across the capital over the next three years.
And so onto the next travel trend. Last month, a survey from VisitEngland revealed that restaurants and pubs serving locally-sourced food and towns and cities hosting food festivals have become a major draw for domestic tourists, with more than three quarters of adults saying they want to dine in a restaurant, pub or cafe unique to the area when holidaying in England.
As a result, gastronomic hotels, or ‘gastrotels’, have become more popular than ever.
Heckfield Place - a manor house hotel in Hampshire - has been reunited with its 330-acre farm, which means its restaurant – overseen by Skye Gyngell of Petersham Nurseries – will be stocked with ‘hyperlocal’ produce when it opens in spring 2014.
Hotels with soul
“Ultimately Heckfield Place is all about reconnecting – with England’s past, with future ideas, and with all that is natural, including great food, honestly cooked, enjoyed in the easy company of like-minded people,” said the Heckfield Place's general manager Charles Oak. “We want the hotel to be comforting and true to itself. We don’t want to be formulaic, but intuitive, honest and elegant – it will be a hotel with a soul.”
Meanwhile Home Grown Hotels, owner of The Pig hotel brand, is taking its ‘restaurants with rooms’ concept to the New Forest and Southampton with new properties opening in Bath (Feruary 2014) and Dorset (May 2014) - both of which will offer the renowned 25-mile menu.
And drink connoisseurs will be attracted to Hampshire’s other notable opening, Laverstoke Mill - a Bombay Sapphire Distillery which opens its doors in the spring. Thomas Heatherwick has designed the glasshouse, which will house Bombay Sapphire's 10 botanical ingredients, and there will be a bar school on-site at the hotel.
VisitEngland’s other predictions for English holidays next year included an increase in tourism based around the arts, with a rush of British musicals hitting the West End, and cycling, with a 15 per cent annual growth in the sport over the past year. 2014 also marks the centenary of the start of World War 1, with the Imperial War Museum co-ordinating a programme of cultural events throughout the country and over 1,400 businesses already signed up.