A five-star collection
Last year’s merger with JJW Hotels has significantly increased the quality property portfolio of The Eton Collection
The Eton Collection owns and operates five-star luxury boutiques and town house hotels in the UK, as well as a fine dining restaurant in London. Hotelier Peter Tyrie, who continues to be the managing director, founded the business in 1998.
An already impressive property portfolio was significantly improved in August last year when the company announced that they had agreed a deal worth £70 million and were acquired by JJW Luxury Collection. The development tripled the portfolio from five hotels in the UK to a total of 15 properties throughout Europe and saw the addition of renowned UK properties such as The Berners Hotel, off Oxford Street in London, 42 The Calls in Leeds and The Scotsman, Edinburgh. It also saw the incorporation of three Parisian hotels; Hotel de Vigny, Hotel Balzac and Hotel La Trèmoille as well as Grand Hotel Wien in Vienna and The Pinheiros Altos Golf Resort in Portugal.
Nearly a year on and the marriage of the two companies is going particularly well, as Nick Tyrie, the group director for food and beverages, explains: “The merger has been very good for us as it has presented the opportunity to branch out into areas that we haven’t previously covered. A number of the hotels are already five-star properties but they haven’t been renovated for a number of years so we’ve been given the chance to renovate and refurbish some of them and really stamp The Eton Collection mark on them.”
The combined Eton and JJW Hotels are now in the process of reviewing the group branding as this eclectic group of hotels, restaurants and bars now require being united under one label.
The company’s original hotels have set the mark particularly high. They include three properties in London; the flagship property Threadneedles, which is characterised by its 19th century stained glass dome, The Colonnade, which is based in Little Venice and boasts the popular E Bar, and The Academy in Bloomsbury. They are joined by Quebecs in Leeds, which became the first of the company’s properties outside the capital, and The Glasshouse, which is situated in Edinburgh. As well as living up to the high standards of elegance, comfort and intimacy of the Group, the new hotels will be expected to provide the same standard of experience for which The Eton Collection has become famous.
The most prominent illustration of this expertise is Bonds restaurant, which is part of the Threadneedles hotel. The eatery, which consistently wins acclaim from food critics, combines classic sophistication with city chic, offering an alternative to traditional dining. “What we’ve always tried to do with Bonds is to make it a standalone restaurant so it wasn’t branded with a hotel restaurant identity,” Nick says. The statement is strengthened by the quality of modern French cuisine fused with a combination of 19th and 21st century décor, making this bar and restaurant a warm and relaxing, yet exciting environment.”
As with all of The Eton Collection’s menus, quality is the main driver for Bonds. “Ultimately, we try to source all of our produce from within the UK, for instance our fresh scallops are flown down fromScotland and our sausages are sourced from one supplier and made to Tonk’s recipe. We also use food that is in season, for example, asparagus and tomatoes. I am a firm believer that when food is in season in the UK, the produce is the very finest you can get on the market,” Nick states.
As well as sourcing British products, there is also a commitment to giving thechefs a degree of freedom in the kitchen. “On beverages we are always looking to source better products in terms of quality and price but we leave the food to the chefs. The chefs have a free hand to be creative. My head chef here at Bonds is Barry Tonks and it was quite different for him at first, as he had come from a smaller restaurant. Now he is in charge of menus for breakfast, lunch, dinner, room service, private room and tapas menus – it is a much bigger kettle of fish,” Nick comments.
Yet despite this workload, he has scores of both budding and established chefs queuing round the block to work within The Eton Collection. “We have a great number of people who want to work here because of how good it looks on their CV,” Nick reveals. “It is a tough kitchen to work in but they know how much they are going to learn by working here. Of course, the hours and the work are tough but that is par for the course for any chef worth his salt.”
The company’s reputation should be further enhanced with the re-opening of The Scotsman Hotel’s brassiere in mid- July. The property, which is based in Edinburgh and a member of The Small Leading Hotels of the World, had its eating quarters shut recently for refurbishment while its menu is also being updated. It joined The Eton Collection’s portfolio in the aforementioned merger that also saw The Berners Hotel in London join the group. Having sat dormant for three years, it is in the process of being restored to its former glory with the grand re-opening set for September next year.
Nick will oversee the catering operations of The Berners and with a 100-cover restaurant and 75-seater cocktail bar to be incorporated into the property; he is looking forward to his most significant challenge to date. Looking forward, he concludes: “As far as my experience with the group goes, it will be the biggest challenge so far. I still walk into Bonds every morning and have my breath taken away – it is a stunning room. I think that will be the case at The Berners, it will be a fine quality product.”