Hometel company in discussions over two potential sites in Belfast
The UK's first hometel brand could be set to open up a new facility in Belfast.
It is understood that Room2, which currently has two operational locations - the Southampton Hometel and Hammersmith Townhouse - is in talks with two potential sites in the city.
The brainchild of brothers Robert and Stuart Godwin, former members of the British Olympic Development Sailing team, the firm said hometels combine the best elements from Airbnb, serviced apartments and boutique hotels in an offering designed to appeal equally to corporate and leisure guests and those seeking alternative forms of residential accommodation.
Room2's hometels include 24-hour stays as standard with residences available from one night to one year and beyond while the company also includes kitchens in every room, the ability to select your own type of mattress and keyless check-in.
Simon Calder, travel writer for the Independent, described Room2 as "evolutionary, not revolutionary".
"I welcome all innovation and increased competition in accommodation," he said.
"I would certainly consider the brand for a stay in Belfast, but happily recent years have brought plenty of bright, fresh rooms to the city - so I am spoiled for choice."
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The company has a further pipeline of live projects across the UK with a gross development value of more than £100m.
This includes sites in Chiswick and Manchester, featuring a mix of wholly owned assets and those pre-leased to Room2 by development partners.
Room2 has also appointed Mark Harris, the former head of UK and Ireland and managing director at the Carlyle Group, as strategic investment partner.
It said his primary role will be to help raise finance from institutions, family offices and high net worth individuals to enable up to £250m of investment into Room2's pipeline of hometel developments across the UK, as it targets 5,000 operational or committed rooms by 2030.
He will also advise on the growth of the Room2 platform and the development and delivery of new schemes.
"In a crowded marketplace dominated by big brands and ubiquitous design, and one in which the customer is becoming increasingly discerning, I believe it is crucial for a brand to be able to stand out and deliver sustainable advantage through a unique offering," said Mr Harris.
"Hometels is a nascent yet hugely under-supplied market, and I firmly believe the wide-ranging appeal and flexibility of Room2's product provides a compelling investment opportunity."