Play it again, Sam 13 December 2019 Sam Harrison returns to the floor at Hammersmith’s Riverside Studios, where his brasserie is set to be a blockbuster
In this week's issue... Play it again, Sam Sam Harrison returns to the floor at Hammersmith’s Riverside Studios, where his brasserie is set to be a blockbuster
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London's top hotels are feeling the pinch

01 January 2000
London's top hotels are feeling the pinch

By Cathy Cooper

London hoteliers are, for the first time in years, expressing concern about the future amid a drop in occupancy rates.

The top hotels appear to be suffering most. David Wilkinson, general manager of the Dorchester, said: "Occupancy has not been as strong as the past two or three years. There's been some softening, particularly in January and June."

Olivia Hetherington, manager of the four-star, 212-room Bailey's hotel in Kensington, said: "It's a little bit tougher than last year. We're doing more deals now and giving more rooms at a lower rate than we would normally do."

Managers attribute the decline to a strong pound, the Asian economic crisis and a consequent drop in business custom, the proliferation of hotels in the capital and a perception that London hotels are overpriced.

Wilkinson said it was too early to tell if the downturn was permanent. But he warned: "If you hear people consistently saying, as I have done when I've gone abroad, that London is too expensive, then that is something we collectively need to worry about."

However, while the 405-room Holiday Inn hotel in King's Cross has seen a drop in tourist business it has had an increase in corporate bookings. General manager Firoz Kassam said: "Last year the weekdays were quieter and the weekends fuller. Now it's turned around completely." He added: "Most of our corporate income is from UK businessmen, so it's not affected by the strong pound."

Ken Milton, general manager of the two-star, 193-bedroom Clarendon hotel in south-east London, said: "We have had a drop in the past two weeks and this week, but otherwise we've had a 12% increase on last year. Last year people were just out of the recession, this year there's been more confidence. We've had a lot more tours this year."

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