Interview: Simon Lester, Lester Hotels


"So city home is our new apartment and aparthotel brand - the company is called City Home Hospitality Limited and we're really divided into two areas - the aparthotel is predominantly a new-build, and it's a modular build so our build time is very fast. What would take 24 to 26 months for a traditional build, we think we can probably complete a first building in around 12 months. It's not cheaper to build but obviously taking half the time reduces the funding costs and it's much faster to market."

"We are the developer and the operator for the aparthotels. On the serviced apartments we are predominantly looking to buy existing stock so we would not be a developer for those but we would offer a very effective solution to developers and to existing land owners who have got property which they would like to secure, maybe not against an AST, but renting it to a serviced apartment operator, giving them above average returns but more importantly the properties will be looked after and maintained to show home standards."

City Home, as its name dictates, will be in cities. Our first aparthotel will commence construction in January and that is actually going to be in Gibraltar - so not strictly a city but a very much a commercial hub and a UK territory so that's the first one, but we are a UK company so we are looking to roll out a City Home in the major cities in the UK. We'd like to get a London flagship, but we've currently got two sites under negotiation in the city centres of Birmingham and Bristol."

"All of the major cities in the UK are on our radar - we would quite like to get something in Glasgow, which we are also talking to somebody about and also in Edinburgh, but all of the m ajor cities in the UK are a target for us."

"The first one that we have has the characteristics of an aparthotel and is a combination of studios, one beds and two beds. The Gibraltar property is 184 apartments of which about half are studios, about 40 per cent are one beds and then 10 per cent are two beds. The characteristics of the building that or are the brand hallmarks if you like, is that it's a home, it a room, so make it yours. There's a level of personalisation that accompanies the room but also on the ground floor there'll be the clubhouse. The clubhouse is really encouraging that communal living concept so it'll have areas to eat, dine, relax, meet and chill out."

"The club houses will be the hub of the City Home aparthotel and you would expect to receive all of the services you would find in a hotel, perhaps not so much room service because there's in-room dining but everything else will be available. There's a great gym on the lower ground floor and in this particular building there'll be a rooftop garden and bar as well, with an outdoor cinema."

"We would certainly like to have 10 aparthotels in the UK as a target over the next five years under construction
or opening."

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