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The UK gains four Kimpton hotels and one InterContinental as Principal rebrands

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In May this year IHG announced the aquisition of 13 UK properties from Starwood Capital (not related to Starwood Preferred Guest) including Principal Hotels and two De Vere hotels.  This was exciting news because Starwood Capital has spent a huge amount of money refurbishing the main Principal Hotels and they are now some of the best regional hotels in the country.

IHG has now confirmed that four of these hotels will be rebranded as Kimpton.

Currently there is only one Kimpton property in Europe, the Kimpton De Witt Amsterdam which we reviewed here.

principal london Kimpton

The first Kimpton to open in the UK will be the rebranded Principal London in Russell Square – previously the Hotel Russell – which has recently undergone an £85 million refurbishment and only re-opened in April.  The seafood restaurant at this hotel, Neptune, has been attracting a lot of positive press reviews.

The Principal London will be rebranded as a Kimpton later this year.  Principal Manchester, Principal Edinburgh Charlotte Square and Principal Blythswood Square Hotel Glasgow will follow in 2019.

IHG has also confirmed speculation about some of the acquired hotels joining its newest brand Voco. The Principal St. Davids Hotel in Cardiff will be the first Voco hotel in the UK.  You can find out more about Voco, IHG’s new ‘conversion brand’, in our article here.

InterContinental returns to the regions

The Principal Edinburgh George Street will return to being an InterContinental hotel late in 2019.  This hotel had previously been an InterContinental until 2005.

The Principal Met Leeds Hotel will be rebranded as an Indigo in 2020 and the De Vere Wotton House in Surrey will operate unbranded as Wotton House whilst IHG decides what to do with it.

Rebranding for the Principal York and the Grand Birmingham, which is currently undergoing refurbishment, has not been announced yet.

Three further ex-Starwood Capital hotels are expected to join the IHG portfolio later this year:  the Principal Grand Central Hotel in Glasgow, the De Vere Oxford Thames and the Principal Oxford Spires Hotel.

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  1. I like the ‘sound’ and location of mamy of these hotels. Definitely a boost for IHG in the UK if looking for something nicer and with a bit more charm than their usual suspects. Hopefully we will see some decent introductory points rates as is usually the case with new IHG properties.

    There seems to be a lot of consolidation around the big chains in the UK in recent years, I am wondering if the Village Hotel group might be next to join one of the big chains.

  2. Great to see an intercontinental coming back to Edinburgh. When will this be bookable? I’d consider that property for the ambassador 2-4-1.

  3. TGLoyalty says:

    The Grand in Birmingham is going through an extensive refurb and would be great if that was also an intercontinental as Birmingham lacks real top end hotels. Suspect it’ll end up a kimpton or Indigo though

  4. Lewis says:

    Hmmm…. I’ve got a few nights booked at one of the Indigo’s on New Year’s Eve… is happily switch to the “New Intercontinental” if it was open by then…

    • Chris says:

      Late 2019 for the change to IC according to the IHG press release yesterday.

  5. Stu N says:

    The two Edinburgh hotels are very smart; they have clearly had a lot of money spent on them. Edinburgh really is spoilt for high end city centre hotels – Waldorf Caledonian, Principal Charlotte Sq (once the Roxburghe), George, Balmoral, G&V on Royal Mile all of which have had significant amounts of money spent on them in the last 5 years or so.

    Plenty of boutique options too. If anyone is up here then have a look at Chester Apartments; one of the nicest places I have stayed.

    • You forgot the Hilton Club Wing at Haymarket, in a class all of its own!

      • Colin JE says:

        The George, as it was known, is the Principal George St, so it’ll be the Intercontinental. Surprising, as to my mind the Principal Charlotte Sq is the grander of the two.

  6. ‘the regions…’ drives me nuts.

    Rob – It’s not the 1950’s any more… I believe people are comfortable with the concept of ‘Scotland’.

    • I thought the same when I read the article. Made me think of the Hunger Games!

    • Mark2 says:

      of course Scotland is included as a region!

      • sunguy says:

        So, do we put London or Yorkshire down as a region – and then place them in the same bucket as a country (Scotland) ?

        So what do we call Lothian, Fife, Clackmannanshire, Aberdeenshire, etc ?

        ….The English Broadcasting Corporation does it again…..and forces people to think that countries (Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland) are all just regions

        • If we want to be correct about it then England, Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales are all regions, not countries or nations. The only recognised nation is the United Kingdom. Barring a truly massive shift in demography or electoral patterns Scotland will becone a nation state in the next 5-15 years. The way things are going at the monent though I would not be surprised if Northern Ireland leaves the Union first.

        • If you define country by a sovereign state recognised by the United Nations then only the UK is a country. Another definition I use is if you can get a passport from that country which again means only the UK is a country. I had this debate a few weeks ago with my colleagues!

        • Genghis says:

          Strictly speaking the UK is a state, not a nation. The UK is arguable not really a nation-state either given the different “nations” of England, Scotland, Wales, NI etc

        • Certainly hope that doesn’t prove to be the case, BJ! Big differences by city too – Glasgow/Dundee very pro-independence, Edinburgh and many other areas pro-union!

        • @Alan, I feel comfortable either way, I am perfectly happy to stay in the Union and equally confident and happy to go independent. I would prefer independence were it not to be so devisive, both within Scotland and the Union but it is obvious this would not be the case. Still, with the passing of time then hopefully the acrimony would pass too. Irrespective of my own views I am certain that Scotland will leave the Union within the next two decades, I simply do not see the age/voting trends changing. For this reason alone I think we would be best just to end the uncertainty and get on with it so I will be voting yes next time. That Edinburgh failed to vote yes last time amazes me, I would have thought the city had more to gain from independence than any other part of the country.

    • The article is not just about Scotland.

    • Clearly Anika isn’t 🙂

      • I think it was the editorial oversight he took exception to, Anika can do no wrong 🙂

    • G00NFACE says:

      It’s a classic London in-ward looking comment 😉

  7. Chris says:

    Great to see the George back as an IC although as I said on FT yesterday I don’t understand why it is going to take until mid/late 2019 to convert it given the current standard of the property.

    I’d like to see the Grand Central rebranded as an IC as well although I suspect it will be Voco or something else.

    I’m also surprised at The Russell going to Kimpton, I thought they might have chanced their arm with a third IC in London.

    • The article says the Principle George Street will become an IC later this year. Is this a mistake?

      • Chris says:

        I think so.

        From the IHG press release

        ‘InterContinental Hotels & Resorts, the largest luxury hotel brand in the world, will be returning to the historical Principal Edinburgh George Street. The property will be re-branded as an InterContinental by late next year.”

        • Ah that’s a shame I was thinking about booking a trip up there for Christmas time this year. I hope it’s taking that long due to contractual reasons rather than because they want to to refurb the property as it looks fantastic just the way it is? Just switch the branding above the door and that’s it?

          • You’ll find that the IHG brand standards manual is hundreds of pages long and covers everything from the power of the in-room hairdryers down to the type of coffee that can be served and how it is served.

        • Doh, sorry.

    • …. and possible downgraded Greenwich.

  8. Traveler says:

    I think of Intercontinentals having a Club Lounge but I don’t think the Principal Edinburgh George St presently has one? Am. I right?

  9. ColinJE says:

    Rob, any views as to when these will be bookable on points? The Russel Sq Kimpton quite appeals, as someone from ‘the regions’.

  10. Paco Martinez-Soria says:

    Rob, I follow your blog from ages ago, and can’t thank you enough for introducing me to this wonderful hobby. I’m just back from a lovely 4 night stay in Amsterdam where our family of four got the chance to try both the newly open QO Amsterdam and the Kimpton de Witt. As a Spire Elite I was given wonderful upgrades in advance (extra interconnecting room at the QO, large family room at the Kimpton) plus lots of drinks vouchers, breakfast discounts, etc…we truly had a wonderful time and it was all on points plus a free night certificate.

    You really do an amazing job, but with all due respect your continuous reference to the average earnings of your reader base (£100k+ apparently is the norm), and the undertone of superiority when referring to “the regions” or other cultures, makes it really difficult for me to connect. I am sure I am not the only one being put off by this. London is not the centre of the universe, nor is the UK, despite what British Airways may think and you, as a well travelled man, know this better than anyone. Some people may think it is quintessentially British to think of oneself as “different”, or “better”, but I think in this digital age, we could do with using a more inclusive language. I have no doubt you are a wonderful man in person but I do find some of your online comments quite unpalatable at times.

    Please take this for what it’s worth, a bit of honest feedback from a regular reader that may not fit the image of HFPs standard demographic in your head, but really likes to be part of this community.

    Thanks and keep up the good work

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