Accommodation offer can 'boost' pub business

By Amelie Maurice-Jones

- Last updated on GMT

Should I put rooms in at my pub?

Related tags Property

It turns out there IS room at the inn, with pubs across the country investing in rooms so that guests can chill out and stay the night after enjoying the food and drink on offer.

But where to begin? Operators have shared stories of launching accommodation offers and have offered nuggets of wisdom aimed at helping pubs get started on setting up rooms.

This comes after pubs with rooms operator the Inn Collection Group recorded a weekend of bumper occupancy rates across their network of inns, with 99% of rooms booked across the north of England and North Wales.

Lancashire-based gastropub the Freemasons at Wiswell launched its accommodation offering in 2019. The gastropub offers packages for guests that include breakfast, and for the operator Steven Smith, “it’s all about the food first then some beautiful rooms”.

He recently told The Morning Advertiser why guests should pick pubs over hotels for a getaway: “It’s a lot more relaxed [and] an enjoyable environment,” said Smith.

“If you want to have a real chill out and get away from everyday life, pubs are the perfect backdrop to do that.”

And what’s the return for business? Per year, the rooms do a “massive” return investment of £3540,000 to £400,000. The rooms’ décor is “timeless,” leaving little need for renovations, but each costs around £50,000 to instate.

Smith gives some words of wisdom to operators looking to invest in rooms: “Make sure you buy back correctly, make sure the rooms keep with the character of your pub, and don’t go crazy”.

In addition, he said you should spend well – making sure you buy once and buy right, rather than buy cheap and buy twice.

Another pub proud of its accommodation offering is the Black Swan. The pub’s owner Scott Fairweather also gives advice for pubs looking to invest in rooms.

He says: “While offering accommodation does involve a lot more work, more staff and also potential headaches along the way, they are certainly worth it & especially in a rural location, it could be the difference between make or break.”

Rooms are an “essential part” of the gastropub’s offering, and in today’s economic climate, are “financially crucial”, he adds.

The team budget carefully for each of the rooms as it is upgrading them, and every two to three years, tweaks are made to each room, with some needing fresh coats of paint, new bathrooms, or even full makeovers.

The pub added three yurts into its riverside garden after the pandemic, offering a glamping experience. The return on investment took one busy summer season, which is around eight months, according to Fairweather.

The Inn Collection Group rooms director Kate Bentley says the operator’s style of hospitality is proving to be a “winning formula” in a challenging environment, with the cosy pub and comfortable rooms being valued by customers.

She continues: “We have grown the number of sites available for people to choose from with six re-openings so far this year and it is particularly pleasing to see these renovations amongst the top performers in the group.

“Last weekend saw us 32% up on like for like sales between this year and 2022, whilst the month to date figures are 56% up.

“For The Knaresborough Inn to be at capacity in just its second week of re-opening I think shows that we are getting our offering right in terms of quality and value and that our inns are in the right locations for our target market.”

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