Singapore hotelier buys London hotel

by Cheryl Tay

Singaporean hotelier and restaurateur Loh Lik Peng has acquired the iconic St John Hotel in Leicester Square, London, after the property slipped into insolvency last year, reported The Business Times.

Aside from 15 rooms, the boutique hotel also has a restaurant and bar. Its former owners were British chef Fergus Henderson and business partner Trevor Gulliver, Loh's friends.

"The building is new, the restaurant has just won its first Michelin star, and the trading numbers were good. Given our businesses in London, I saw the potential to add to our portfolio," said Loh.

Notably, his Unlisted Collection operates six boutique hotels and six restaurants across London, Singapore and Shanghai. In the UK capital, his interests include 196 Bishopsgate, Town Hall Hotel and Apartments and the Michelin- starred Viajante.

Located in the London Chinatown, St John Hotel was worth £6 million (S$11.6 million) and took four years to complete. However, it faced several problems such as a delay in opening, a slide in tourism, a legal dispute with its builders and disruptive construction work in Leicester Square.

Fortunately, the hotel's restaurant clinched its first Michelin star in October.

However, this was followed by a fall in the administration of St John Chinatown Ltd, hence the sale. Loh declined to reveal the final selling price but it is reported to be around £1.1 million (S$2.1 million)

"We are in the business of creating unique and high-quality hotels and restaurants and this project will be no different. We plan to make this place very special in its own right," he added.

Since October, St John Hotel has been operating profitably with an occupancy rates of up to 90 percent.Cheryl Tay, Editor of CommericalGuru, wrote this story. To contact her about this or other stories, email cheryltay@allproperty.com.sg Related Stories:Debt availability to boost 2013 global hotel dealsIconic Singapore venues get makeover Mohammed Sultan Road shophouse up for grabs

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