Explosion in London luxury hotel market

The luxury hotel sector in London could prove to be one of the best places to look for hotel jobs, with the industry seeing rapid expansion in recent years, according to new figures.

A report from PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) shows that 2012 saw the UK's largest room supply increase from new developments in the last decade.

But it was largely the luxury market, and particularly that in the capital, that helped drive this growth; PwC's research shows that nearly 4,000 new luxury rooms have become available in London since 2005, an increase of some 33 per cent.

It means that 5 star hotels now account for around 12 per cent of London's rooms (14,000 rooms) and that, if you are looking for hospitality work in the capital, there is a good chance you could end up working in the luxury hotel sector.

"Looking at recent performance, luxury hoteliers tell us 'so far so good'," said Liz Hall, head of hospitality and leisure research at PwC.

"In fact Luxury has outperformed expectations in the ten months to October and is holding up well, especially given all the extra supply."

It is thought the Olympics was a major driving force behind the luxury sector's expansion, with an unprecedented boom in investment in existing and new hotels in the run up to the Games as operators sought to cash in on the expected surge in visitor numbers to the capital.

The figures also support the notion that, even in times of economic turmoil, the high end of certain markets tend to continue to perform strongly, with similar growth seen recently in sectors such as luxury retail.

And with London very much a global city, attracting wealthy tourists and business travellers from markets such as China, Russia and the Middle East, it seems that luxury hotels are well placed to ride out the economic downturn.

However, Ms Hall warned that the sector will undoubtedly face challenges in 2013, with it remaining to be seen how hotel operators will go about filling their enlarged room numbers and at the higher rates charged during 2012.

"There will be winners but a weak economic and travel environment, a fight for market share and more new rooms to fill mean many will feel the hit," she said.

"However, operators are positive about London’s prospects and are encouraged by the global awareness of the capital as a destination and the ongoing improvements in infrastructure."

Without the boost provided by major events such as the Olympics, Ms Hall questioned where major demand for London luxury hotel rooms will come from next year.

"Will it be post games global awareness, emerging market visitors and the proposed new streamlining of the Chinese visitor process?" she asked.

"London's luxury hotel sector has a challenge on its hands. But the city is a global gateway with increased global awareness after the 2012 Games and continues to compete well with the other major cities in the world when it comes to top end hotels."

Meanwhile, those dreaming of a stay in a luxury hotel, as well as those looking for hotel jobs in the upmarket sector, have been give a glimpse into what it's like to visit or work at such an establishment in recent weeks with the airing of the BBC Two documentary series Inside Claridges.

And it seems the programme has also been a great marketing tool for Claridges itself, with figures from TripAdvisor released this week showing that interest in staying at the famous hotel from UK TripAdvisor users has increased by a staggering 1,769 per cent since the first episode of the series was broadcast.

"Claridges is a favourite of the rich, famous and even royalty. And while most of us could only dream about staying in one of their luxury suites, it seems that the new series has left many travellers keen to experience a slice of luxury and see where all the action happens," commented TripAdvisor spokesperson Emma Shaw.

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