Contemporary expansion to start with two London hotels


Contemporary Hotels is to launch two London hotels and grow its provincial hotel portfolio before expanding into mainland Europe. The group has planning permission to transform an £8m former bank on Great Winchester Street in the City into a 75-bedroom hotel with 14 suites.

The hotel is due to open in spring 2006 following a £9.5m renovation by architects Reardon Smith. Rates for the 20sq m rooms will range from £200 to £220.

Contemporary Hotels’ chairman Ambar Paul, who has previously tried to buy the nearby Threadneedles hotel, said the design would be based on the elements of fire, earth, air, and water. It will feature meeting rooms for 120, a private dining area, and a fire-themed destination bar and restaurant, Xasia, serving “modern British food with an Asian accent”.

Paul expects to announce the purchase of the second property, an existing hotel in the West End, by the end of the year. “I want to create a group of two London hotels and five to 10 outside London, and then do the same in Europe, starting in France and Italy around 2007, and then an Eastern European country,” he said.

Contemporary began in March this year with the purchase of two former Macdonald hotel properties, the Upper Reaches in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, and the White Hart, in Lincoln. Both properties will undergo a thorough refurbishment starting next January, aimed at increasing the average room rate from about £70 to £100-£120. All its provincial hotels will be equipped with spas.

Contemporary is backed by HBOS and the Paul family’s varied enterprises. Ambar Paul is joint chief executive of Caparo Group with his twin brother Akash. It has interests in steel, shipping, and hotels, and has an annual turnover of £470m.

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