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London's luxury hotels get back to normal after bombs

21 July 2005

Five-star London hotels appear to have bounced back quickly from the impact of the terrorist bombings of 7 July.

The Bench, which supplies daily hotel operating data, found that occupancy levels dipped by 10-12% on the weekend after the attacks, compared with the previous year.

During the following Monday-to-Thursday period, occupancy levels were 5-6% lower year-on-year.

James Chappell, chief executive at The Bench, said he expected bookings for last weekend to be substantially down as well, but added that the London market appeared to have been "remarkably resilient".

VisitBritain, which publishes its findings on the visitor economy tomorrow, says anecdotal evidence suggests the impact on business will be short-lived, running into weeks rather than months, after the initial sharp drop.

This view is supported by the experience of hotels such as the Langham, which said business was back to normal by Tuesday last week.

But some business has been lost. John Stauss, regional vice-president and general manager at Four Seasons, said the group's Park Lane hotel lost about 500,000-worth of business from July and August within 24 hours of the bombings.

However, Stauss added the hotel's lengthy waiting list meant it had already recouped 300,000-worth of bookings and he expects to recover the remaining 40%. The impact on the group's Canary Wharf hotel was minimal.

The Hyatt Regency London - The Churchill lost all its banqueting business on 7 July and 350 room nights had been cancelled by the next day. But general manager Mike Gray said many clients were now rebooking and the lost banquets and occupancy levels had returned to normal by Wednesday last week.

Herbert Koenig, general manager at the Bentley Kempinski said: "We had some cancellations but I think it is back to normal. I don't get the feeling people are afraid to come to London."

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