New life for the Londonderry

01 January 2000
New life for the Londonderry

The Londonderry Hotel, which has been closed for almost four years, will reopen for business early next summer with a new name, a contemporary design and room rates well below those of its neighbours on London's Park Lane.

Singapore businessman Ong Beng Seng, who completed a protracted near-£26m deal to buy the hotel early this year, has given the green light to a multi-million pound refit he is confident will transform not just the hotel's look but itsfortunes.

The hotel has had at least eight owners since it was built in 1967, including Kennedy Brookes and the ill-fated Brent Walker, but none seemed able to rid the Londonderry ofits reputation as a haunt for prostitutes.

Overseeing the project is Nicholas Rettie, who runs the nearby Halkin Hotel - also owned by Mr Ong. He has been appointed general manager of both properties and has promoted the Halkin's operations manager, Andrew Hepburn, to manager.

Mr Rettie said the hotel would have 159 bedrooms, including 15 suites, a first-floor restaurant, a meeting room for up to 60 people, and a small gym. He expects to charge between £160 and £200 per room (more for suites) and to employ about 130 staff.

The aim, he said, was to depart from the traditional Park Lane five-star hotel by providing "a contemporary, understated design" that would appeal to a younger, more creative clientele.

"It will not be fitted out to the same extent and cash investment as the Halkin, but quite a lot of the philosophies are being carried over," Mr Rettie added.

He said the property would break new ground in London, much as Ken McCulloch and Jonathan Wix had done in Glasgow and Leeds respectively.

The new name is being kept firmly under wraps until the New Year.

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