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The Eton Collection was a group of five luxury four- and five-star townhouse and boutique hotels in London, Leeds and Edinburgh built up by veteran luxury hotelier Peter Tyrie to offer high standards of design, comfort and service. Three of the properties are now part of Westmont Hospitality and two are individually owned.
Tyrie played a major role in developing Gleneagles in Perthshire and the Balmoral in Edinburgh to five-star standard from hotels he acquired from British Rail in 1981 and was responsible for the flotation of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group in 1987.
He became an early adopter of the boutique hotel concept pioneered by Ken McCulloch and Firmdale Hotels when he founded Eton Town House Group in November 1998. In fact, he wanted to call it Balmoral Town House Group but dropped the idea to avoid confusion with the Edinburgh hotel he had developed that was by then owned by Rocco Forte Hotels.
Eton’s first two openings (the Colonnade and Academy hotels in London) followed the small townhouse format but later properties focused on the grander boutique format with larger public spaces – hence the contraction of the company name to Eton Group. They included the first luxury boutique hotels in Leeds (Quebecs) and the City of London (Threadneedles).
Eton Group highlighted Tyrie’s passion for reviving the unique features of old buildings steeped with history and heritage. Quebecs and Colonnade are both Victorian properties, the Academy was created from five Georgian townhouses, and the modernistic glass-walled Glasshouse used the Gothic façade of the old Lady Glenlochy church as an entrance.
Tyrie’s ambitions of expanding the group to 10 properties in gateway UK and European cities led to its £70m sale in 2007 to the JJW Luxury Collection, a Guernsey-based operator of 55 European and Middle Eastern hotels that was part of the MBI International corporation owned by Saudi tycoon Sheikh Mohamed Bin Issa Al Jaber.
The Eton Collection was to become the heart of a planned 30 or so individually-designed luxury hotels in the UK, Europe and the USA (a role originally planned for the Scotsman Hotel Group that JJW bought in 2006). Its portfolio initially expanded to around 15 properties that included the three Scotsman hotels (Scotsman in Edinburgh, 42 The Calls in Leeds and Hotel de la Trémoille in Paris).
But JJW’s nine UK hotels fell victim to a global freezing order brought by Standard Bank against Sheikh Al Jabr in a dispute over unpaid loans and both the five original Eton Group hotels and Berner’s hotel were forced into administration in 2010.
The five Eton Group hotels were bought for £55m in December 2010 by US-based Westmont Hospitality, which owns more than 500 hotels in Europe, North America and Asia. Quebecs returned to the control of its landlord, property investor OMC Investment, in 2011 and the Colonnade was sold in late 2012.
In 2013, the Glasshouse and Threadneedles hotels became the first UK properties to join Marriott’s Autograph Collection of independent luxury hotels.
34 Francis Grove