Tune Hotels to debut in London

4 Mar 2010 by BusinessTraveller

Budget Asian hotel brand Tune is to open a 79-room hotel on Westminster Bridge Road close to London Waterloo station, with plans to add 1,500 rooms across 15 London properties by 2017.

Aiming to provide a “five-star sleeping experience at a one-star price”, the brand is part of the Tune Group, owned by low-cost carrier Air Asia boss Tony Fernandes. The group has seven exisiting properties in Malaysia and Indonesia, with another two due to open in the coming months, and a total of 89 hotels under development worldwide.

Similar to the Easyhotels offering, the Tune concept is closely aligned with that of the low-cost airline industry, with a basic offering of a bed and shower room at budget prices, and “frills” such as towels, internet access and air-conditioning (particularly relevant in hot and humid climates across Asia) all charged per use. The limited service offering has been built around five essentials of “five-star beds”, “power showers”, central and convenient locations”, “clean environment”, and 24-hour security.

CEO Mark Lankester said that he was hopeful of an August opening for the first London property, which will initially launch with 79 rooms (with plans to extend this by a further 30 rooms) in a converted office building on the corner of Westminster Bridge Road and Baylis Road just south of Waterloo station.

The hotel will not feature any leisure facilities or bars / restaurants, aside from a Costa Coffee concession, and rooms will start at a cosy 9sqm (only slightly larger than the 7sqm standard cabins offered by capsule hotel group Yotel at its Gatwick and Heathrow properties). Around 80 per cent of rooms will have windows, although there will be some rooms located in the basement of the property, which will be priced accordingly. Lankester said that he was “seriously considering” charging for heating at the London property, although he added that guests “would not walk into a cold room”, and stressed the need to be upfront and clear about any additional charges.

Lankester was wary of being drawn on specific room rates for at the London property, although he said he “liked the idea” of a £9 entry level rate. Rooms will be loaded into the group’s online booking system up to a year in advance (likely to go live for the London property around May), allowing guests to book well ahead to obtain the best rates. In Asia rooms have been available at the brand’s properties for as little as £2 per night.

There are plans to add 15 properties across London in the next seven years, and Lankester said that the group was in discussions regarding a location in Holborn, with “six or seven” other properties also currently under consideration. The UK hotels will operate under an exclusive franchise agreement with the Queensway Group, a private investment group also owning and operating UK properties under the budget Easyhotels and Holiday Inn Express brands.

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Report by Mark Caswell

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