Hilton launches UK’s first Garden Inn

5 Aug 2008 by Mark Caswell

HGIHilton has opened
its first mid-market Garden Inn hotel in the UK, a 157-room property near
London Luton airport.

The Hilton Garden
Inn Luton North is located within Butterfield Business Park, around three miles
from the airport, and marks Hilton’s entrance into the mid-market hotel sector
in the UK.

The Hilton Garden Inn (HGI) brand follows
the concept of “focussed or bundled services”, with its five key “brand
pillars” being:

Sleep Deep – all HGI properties feature the signature Garden Sleep System bed, a design
originally used in hospitals to eliminate pressure points and which Hilton
claims will deliver the equivalent of eight hours sleep on a traditional bed, in
just six hours. Guests can adjust the firmness of the matress, which also
includes a virgin wool top layer to help “regulate and maintain proper body

Work Smart – Mark
Nogal, vice president brand performance and sales support described HGI as
Hilton’s “technology brand”, with several business-friendly services on offer.
Guests get complimentary wifi during their stay, and workspaces include an
ergonomically-designed Herman Miller Mirra chair. The brand’s “Printer On”
facility also allows guests to print directly from their laptop or Blackberry to
printers in the 24-hour self-service business centre, again on a complimentary
basis. The Luton North property also has ten meeting rooms, holding between 20
and 120 delegates theatre-style.

Eat Well – HGI Rooms
have an empty fridge which can be topped up with items from the hotel’s 24-hour
Pavillion Pantry, including snacks which can be heated in the in-room
microwaves (Luton North has a communal microwave kitchen on the 1st floor). In
the case of Luton North the restaurant is open for hot breakfast and dinner
(snacks are also available throughout the day in the lobby bar), and room
service is available until 10pm.

Stay Fit – HGI
properties feature complimentary gyms with Precor fitness equipment (the Precor
brand is being rolled out across the Hilton Family of Hotels), and guests can
also request a Stay Fit Kit for use in-room.

Treat Yourself
Many of the HGI hotels (although not Luton North) have swimming pools or spa
baths, and rooms include 26-inch high-definition flatscreen TVs with in-room

HGI may be new to
the UK, but it is well established in the US and Canada. There are several
European locations including Stuttgart, Florence and Rome already open, with Costa Rica, India, Poland, Russia and Turkey all
due to launch properties within the next twelve months. Commenting on the HGI brand, Nogal said:HGI

“Next week we
will open our 400th Hilton Garden Inn property – in 1997 there were just four,
which shows how far the brand has come in just over ten years.

“There are 150
hotels in the pipeline, and we will open our first hotel in Russia (Perm) in a
few weeks, with around 70 properties due to open in North America next year.”

Hilton has yet to
announce further Garden Inn properties in the UK and Ireland, but the group is
looking to open between 15-20 properties in the next four to five years. Noble
said there would be a focus on “suburban locations” similar to Luton North,
although he added that “if city centre locations become available that make
sense, we’ll take a look”.

The introduction
of the Garden Inn brand in the UK, as well as the Doubletree and Hampton by
Hilton brands (see online news March 13) has been made possible by the purchase of
Hilton International by the Hilton Corporation in the US, followed by the sale
of the merged group to the Blackstone Group last year.

There is no doubt
Hilton will have its work cut out to make an impression on the UK’s crowded
mid-market sector, and the brand will be counting on key services such as free
wifi and access to the Hilton Hhonors programme to woo business travellers.

For more
information visit

Report by Mark

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