Over the weekend, I had the opportunity (for which read “I paid to use”) a new(ish) hotel concept in the UK, a IHG brand called “Staybridge Suites”. (They do have their own domain name, but it just points to the same IHG one – major missed trick) They’re aimed primarily at the business market – which currently over-run with Travelodge and Premier-Inn level ‘no expense spent’ rooms.
Currently there are only four in the UK – London (Stratford/Olympic area), Newcastle, Liverpool and Birmingham. From what I saw over the weekend though, there should be a lot more of them – they’ve got the potential to kick Travelodge’s arse into the next century.
Basically, for not much more than a Travelodge, you get a small suite. Bedroom, bathroom and a living room. What makes it stand out that is that there’s also your own small well equipped kitchen area, including two-plate cooker, microwave, fridge/freezer, dishwasher. If you’re staying in the area for a while you can buy your own food, and have what is effectively a home away from home.
Even more importantly, there’s also a breakfast bar that doubles as a desk, including a decent office-type chair. There’s plenty of power sockets, wired internet connections, and wifi is provided as part of the cost of the room, rather than being the extra cost it is in most places. They’ve thought about the ‘travelling business person’ market, and aimed the rooms right at it.
They provide the breakfast – undersold in the blurb as “complimentary continental’ – which really is a breakfast buffet on a par with (and somewhat better than) the competition. They also have a 24-hour “pantry” with food, snacks, frozen meals, and drinks – at reasonable prices. Sure, a supermarket is cheaper, but we’re also not talking rip-off hotel mini-bar levels of pricing.
Additionally, they’ve organised ‘meeting times’ in evenings during the week, giving you the opportunity to meet other hotel users, ‘do some networking’ and all that. There’s food and drink – and again, it’s complimentary. I know that in this case ‘complimentary’ means “it’s all in the original cost/bill”, but even that is pretty radical in comparison to the competitor’s “Here’s the price for the bedroom, now we’ll charge extra for everything else”.
All told, it’s been very well thought about, and I don’t think there was anything about it that I didn’t like. Taking into account all the ‘complimentary’ stuff that you’d pay for anywhere else, I think it’s also a cost-effective solution.
Staybridge is definitely a brand/concept that I’d like to see more of in the UK – I know that if I end up working away from home again, I’ll look for a Staybridge before I look for any other accommodation options.