The 700th Premier Inn has officially opened its doors in Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey, the day after the brand announced the departure of its chief operating officer John Forrest.
The former office block, owned by NCP, on Wheatfield Way, has been converted by Premier Inn's parent company Whitbread into a 160-bedroom hotel.
Great Britain 100m sprinter and former BBC Young Sports Personality of the Year, Harry Aikines-Aryeetey, who began his athletics career in Kingston, joined Simon Jones, managing director of Premier Inn UK to officially launch the hotel (pictured).
Jones said that Kingston is "a brilliant historic location" for its milestone hotel, where there is a demand for guests "to visit the local tourist hotspots like Hampton Court nearby, but also for those who are looking for a great night's sleep and delicious breakfast before an important meeting in the city".
In the run up to the property's launch, the Premier Inn new openings teams joined some of the 45 staff in Kingston to mark the 700th opening by embarking on a 700 mile walk through the town and nearby Richmond Park and the Thames Path. Together they raised £1,000 for Whitbread's nominated charity, Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity and the victims of the Nepal earthquake.
Starting price for bedrooms at the new Premier Inn, which each accommodate two adults and two children, is £39.
Forrest stepped down from his role running Premier Inn, the UK's largest hotel brand, having joined Whitbread in 2007 as business development director for Whitbread Hotels and Restaurants. He became chief operating office of Premier Inn in 2011, and has since played a significant role in driving forward the growth of the brand, staying at every new hotel to carry out a full audit of the property.
Simon Ewins, currently the chief operating officer for Hub by Premier Inn and CSR, will become chief operating officer of Premier Inn on an interim basis.
The brand currently has 59,000 bedrooms and aims to have a total of 85,000 open by 2020.