This year kicked off with the hotel trade in markedly better health than it was a year ago, according to the latest statistics from consultancy PKF.
In January 2004 the industry, while showing signs of recovery, was still pulling itself out of the morass of 2003.
This year, by comparison, according to PKF's monthly report for December, ended with an improvement on virtually all fronts, particularly in room rates.
Hotels in London reported an increase of 8% in average daily room rate, to £100.80, during December,compared with the same month in 2003.
Although occupancy fell by 2.2% to 69.7%, this left rooms' yield up by 5.6% at £70.22.
Outside London, hoteliers saw average room rate go up by 3.9%, to £63.26, and occupancy fall by 0.8% to 61.5%, pushing rooms' yield up by 3.1% to £38.91.
PKF partner Robert Barnard said: "These figures are very good news and allow hoteliers to kick off 2005 from a stronger position than this time last year. It's encouraging that we can start the year on a positive note."
Events on the horizon that could have an impact included a General Election, widely expected to be held in May, and the decision on whether London will be hosting the 2012 Olympics.
"However, with room rates moving in the right direction, hoteliers will now be concentrating on further boosting occupancy, which has been growing at a slower rate, in order to grow rooms' yield," Barnard added.
by Nic Paton
Buy this week's Caterer magazine for more industry news and analysis