Belfast has fourth-dearest hotels in UK, PwC finds

NI city’s room rates of just below £80 a night driven by booming visitor numbers

2018 was one of the busiest years on record for new hotel launches in Belfast, with an estimated 1,000 new hotel rooms.

2018 was one of the busiest years on record for new hotel launches in Belfast, with an estimated 1,000 new hotel rooms.

 

Belfast is the fourth most expensive city in the UK to have a hotel sleepover with room rates averaging just under £80 (€93), latest industry research shows.

Only London, Edinburgh and Brighton are more expensive for a hotel stay, according to the PwC UK Hotels Forecast Update.

The report highlights that hotels in Belfast enjoyed one of their busiest years on record during 2018 as the city welcomed an unprecedented number of visitors.

This helped push Belfast to the number one spot in the PwC report when it came to occupancy rate increases in the UK during 2018.

Between December 2017 and December 2018 hotel occupancy rates in Belfast jumped by 15.5 per cent, putting it first place in a review of 22 major UK cities.

But conversely while occupancy rates increased, revenue per available room (RevPar) in Belfast suffered one of the largest falls – compared to other cities in the UK – of 6.3 per cent.

1,000 new rooms

However, according to the latest PwC report, RevPar in Belfast at £60.93 was still above the UK regional average at £55.46.

Last year was one of the busiest on record for new hotel launches in Belfast with an estimated 1,000 new hotel rooms opening their doors for business.

A total of six new hotels opened in the city, including the Grand Central on Bedford Street, the AC Hotel by Marriott at City Quays, the first “super budget” easyHotel on Howard Street, and Andras Hotels’ Hampton by Hilton near Great Victoria Street.

Martin Cowie, PwC partner, said overall Belfast’s hotel sector had a “tremendous” 2018.

“Though the RevPar metric has fallen, Belfast remains the fourth-most expensive to stay in for a second year, demonstrating that the city and the rest of Northern Ireland continues to appeal to visitors for a variety of reasons,” Mr Cowie added.

Trade uncertainty

But while he believes the hotel sector will continue to increase in size this year, with 300 new rooms estimated to come on stream, he has predicted that this could have a negative impact on RevPar.

Mr Cowie said Belfast, like every other city in the UK, could also see its visitor numbers impacted by ongoing global, European and UK political and economic uncertainty.

“With the impact of Brexit, where reports suggest that potential travellers to the UK – particularly from across Europe – are adopting a ‘wait and see’ attitude, and with a further increase of 5 per cent in the volume of rooms available, the local hotel sector may start to feel pressure on occupancy rates as well as RevPar which may also take a hit,” he added.