Investors step in with more cash to save hotel

A VICTORIAN building, which was converted into a boutique hotel, is to reopen next week after investors salvaged it from liquidation.

The Institute building, in Hull, is reopening as The Townhouse hotel after the former owner, Owner Hotel Management, went into liquidation last July.

Individual investors originally bought 22 of the 27 hotel rooms on a 999-year leasehold basis with prices ranging from 70,000 to 110,000.

They have now collectively invested a further 250,000 to save the four-star hotel and turn it into a profitable business after setting up their own company, Hull Rom, and buying the freehold from liquidators Ernst and Young.

Hotel management company Assured Hotels was appointed to mastermind the creation of the hotel, on Albion Street, which will open on March 19.

Keith Triffitt, one of the investors who spearheaded the new company, said: "It was a difficult decision we made to take on the hotel ourselves but at the time we had two choices – to walk away from it or we could try to rescue something from this.

"We had to take some tough decisions fairly early on but we formed a company and decided to get Assured Hotels on board initially because we didn't have the right experience to run the hotel ourselves."

He added: "I'm pretty confident we can make it work. We think we've brought something quite different to Hull in terms of quality, value and a personal touch."

Mike Rothwell, a consultant at Assured Hotels, added: "The shareholders saw the potential for a quality hotel in the centre of Hull and, having carried out extensive research, I agree with them.

"Now, with the right management on board, I am confident The Townhouse has a bright future."

He added: "Our ethos is to offer a four-star service where guests will be met and personally checked into their rooms rather than asking them to queue up at a reception desk.

"We want them to feel immediately relaxed and at home and to experience a genuine Yorkshire welcome."

A restaurant is expected to open later once the hotel is up and running. In addition, all the positions at the hotel have been filled by people living in the local area after 750 potential employees turned up to a recruitment open day for 15 jobs.

The investors, who spent about 100,000 refurbishing part of the hotel before reopening it, predict turnover in the first year to reach between 400,000 and 600,000 and up to 60 per cent occupancy for the first six months.

The Hull Church Institute was originally built in 1846, when Queen Victoria commissioned it as a house for her personal physician, Sir James Anderson,

The hotel still includes many features of the original building, such as the sweeping staircase and ornate pillars which sit alongside a modern Italian marble reception.

Owner Hotels collapsed after incurring significant trading losses and closing its Yorkshire properties, including a second hotel – The Jorvik Hotel in York.

Owner Hotel Management, the company responsible for the operation of the hotels and employment of 24 staff across the two locations, went into liquidation.

Hull Church Institute

The Hull Church Institute was originally built in 1846, when Queen Victoria commissioned it as a house for her personal physician Sir James Anderson.

The classic style of the house is said to have reflected Sir James's concern with the best architecture.

In 1864, the house was sold to the Hull Church Institute for 1,418. The Institute had been founded in 1845 and used premises in Osborne Street before coming to Albion Street.

Before the building was bought by Owner Hotels, in 2006, it was used as a nightclub for many years.