Naomi Heaton on launching The Other House

Following the recent unveiling of The Other House, a new lifestyle brand set to open two hotels in London by Spring 2022, Sleeper caught up with founder and CEO Naomi Heaton to discuss the appeal of the capital and how her latest venture will offer something different.

Why London and why now?

London has always been in my DNA. Having founded London Central Portfolio in 1989, a property company investing in corporate rentals, we have specialised in acquiring assets in need of refurbishment and reorganisation to bring our vision to life. We have always loved the heritage architecture and the relative scarcity of such buildings in the capital. Whilst perhaps a harder task than building new, the end result is unique with embedded history. London is a fantastic destination with enduring excitement and appeal, benefitting from rich culture, first-class educational facilities and a universal business language. There is no better place to launch a global brand and with our experience of the market, it was the obvious choice.

The city is made up of many villages with distinct personalities. We have already acquired properties in two such villages, South Kensington and Covent Garden, for our new brand of residents’ clubs. We are now looking to invest in the other villages on our doorstep such as Mayfair, Sloane Square, Notting Hill and Marylebone. And then, we will look beyond London and expand to other cities across the globe.

The journey of The Other House started several years ago when we first saw the need for a new approach to hospitality. We observed that our tenant market was increasingly prioritising prime locations and beautifully designed interiors yet still at an affordable price point. More recently, we have seen a demand for hotel-style services at the click of a finger. It is these trends that planted the seed of the idea for our new lifestyle brand.

As our concept has been shaped through a residential lens, we have been able to bring a unique perspective to the hospitality sector, blurring the lines between hotels, serviced apartments and private rentals. Combining a sense of place with any length of stay and hotel-style services, we are creating residents’ clubs – a new type of accommodation. The idea started to become a reality in December 2019 when we teamed up with Dutch pension provider and our joint venture partners APG and we cannot wait to open our doors in 2022. 

What can guests expect from The Other House?

Our residents’ clubs will be a second home for our guests, their ‘other house’ if you like. Anticipating the shift in consumer behaviour, which has been accelerated by the pandemic, we will combine flexibility with hotel-style, on-demand services and a strong sense of place with emphasis on placemaking. Guests can stay for a day, a week, a month, a year – or even longer. They can be a resident for as long as they are in town.

Another core element is that residents can seamlessly organise all aspects of their stay, their way, through our bespoke app – from booking and checking in through to room controls and ordering food and drink. Not only are guests in control and able to tailor their preferences, but they can also limit touchpoints, which has become integral to the new way of living we have all adopted during the pandemic. Our app is running right through our whole service delivery, although there is always an analogue alternative – residents can choose to check-in at the concierge, for instance – for those who want to have a more hands-on guest experience.

Our concept was always going to be technology based, however it has become a real child of its time. It was only in 2020, out of necessity from Covid-19, that people have truly embraced the shift from using technology tentatively to seeing it as the norm. Also at the heart of each house will be British design and sustainability, from architectural details to recyclable packaging and healthy, sustainably produced food.

What will The Other House bring to the UK capital that’s not already there?

Flexibility of stay, making people feel like a resident and on-demand access to hotel-style services through sophisticated tech underpin our concept. As our residents’ clubs will combine the sense of place and placemaking guests get from a private rental flat with the strengths of hotel offerings, it is a more embracing than many sectors that exist today. Creating this feeling of belonging, essentially being a local while you are in town, is key to what we are doing. Also integral to establishing this new sector of residents’ clubs on the hospitality map are our Club Flats, featuring a distinctly designed living room, sleeping area and kitchen.

Uniquely, guests become members of The Other House simply by virtue of being a resident. They will have access to exclusive private club areas and facilities that are not accessible to the public, including a gym, spa and bars. There will however be public spaces open to all for when guests want to enjoy an outside buzz, including a destination bar and a bistro-style kitchen serving a menu of seasonal and sustainable dishes.

We have had a great journey so far with Bergman Interiors, who are working on the design for both the South Kensington and Covent Garden clubs in collaboration with Falconer Chester Hall. Bold but comfortable with rich colours and a fun contemporary twist is our keynote to creating memorable and lasting experiences.

The Other House will also take a sustainable approach to renovating existing buildings and is committed to making a positive impact on the surrounding community, our employees and the wider environment; there will be a focus on responsibility, health and wellbeing at every guest touchpoint. As such, our residents will be a part of an environmental journey where they can make a measurable personal difference. In addition, we recognise a new area of responsible living and slow travel, where less frequent but longer business trips are becoming the norm, where leisure breaks are combined with work, and where guests want to feel at home.