Asian Hotel Brand Expands to Britain

Cool news from England: Swire Hotels has introduced Chapter Hotels, a new British hotel brand that builds on the recent success of the company’s launch of the “House” and “EAST” brands with the opening of The Opposite House in Beijing, and The Upper House and EAST in Hong Kong.

Chapter Hotels will use historic structures with contemporary designs. The first hotel from the new brand, The Montpellier Chapter, opened in late November in the Regency town of Cheltenham. A second Chapter Hotel will open in Exeter in 2012.

The Montpellier Chapter has 61 rooms, including a penthouse with private roof terrace and other rooms with balconies or sun porches; a lofty restaurant with open kitchen, drawing room, library, bar and snug, two private dining rooms with wine cellars, a garden room, conservatory and new central courtyard. A Spa will open in 2011.

The property is set in a landmark building (formerly the Kandinsky Hotel, acquired by Swire Hotels in 2006) in the chic Montpellier area of Cheltenham, a noted spa town in Gloucestershire on the edge of the Cotswolds that is famous for its array of Regency architecture constructed during the reign of King George IV. The town is also home to the flagship event in British steeplechase horse racing, the Gold Cup, that takes place during the Cheltenham Festival held every March, as well as numerous music and cultural events.

James Partridge is the hotel’s general manager, coming from the same position with Gordon Ramsay Holdings’ York & Albany hotel and restaurant in London. Previously, Partridge spent 15 years at the Maybourne Hotel Group (previously The Savoy).

The Montpellier Chapter was developed under the direction of Brian Williams in his role as Managing Director of Chapter Hotels. Williams worked with a team that included MAKE, the architecture firm of Ken Shuttleworth, and Consultant Chef Simon Hopkinson, the founding chef of London’s Bibendum restaurant. Together, the team preserved the building’s original Victorian character while transforming the interiors and adding both a new contemporary wing in the shape of a crescent and an inner courtyard surrounded by a veil of clear and claret-colored glass that shelters a stately dogwood tree. The mrestored conservatory showcases a chandelier by glass artist Isabel Hamm.

Technology amenities include paperless check-in, complimentary WiFi and Internet connections, complimentary mini bar and in-room 3G iPod touches. Restaurant wine lists are displayed on iPads.

The hotel’s art collection was curated by Central St. Martin’s College of Art and Design and features 160 works by leading and contemporary artists and art students, including paintings, photographs, prints and sculptures. Among the works are specific pieces created by students for each of the 61 guest rooms and suites.

The 74-seat Restaurant, directed by Consultant Chef Simon Hopkinson and Head Chef Tom Rains, features seasonal menus of classic dishes and British favorites, many prepared in the open hearth oven in the open kitchen. Diners may opt to enjoy their selections in the restaurant and conservatory, on the terrace or in the bar.

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