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Thursday, 25 December 2014

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Aparthotel and bar plan for Carlisle's former post office

Carlisle's former Crown Post Office is set to become a luxury ‘aparthotel’ after attempts to woo boutique hotel operators such as Malmaison drew a blank.

Carlisle Post Office photo
The Warwick Road building

Meanwhile, a leisure company is in talks to lease part of the ground floor, perhaps to open a vodka bar.

Local businessmen Simon Harrison, Phillip Rheinbach and former Carlisle Brass owner Robin Graham bought the empty building in Warwick Road last year.

Their hope was to attract the likes of Malmaison, Indigo or Hotel du Vin to open a five-star hotel with between 35 and 40 bedrooms.

But Mr Harrison has confirmed that there were no takers.

He said: “We are not going to get a single operator to take on the whole building.

“Those companies are looking at bigger cities. Carlisle isn’t in their top 10.

“They didn’t feel Carlisle was ready for something like this, although we might disagree.”

The three are, however, in talks with two leisure companies interested in leasing most of the ground floor.

Mr Harrison said: “One is very promising, a national operator that has been looking to get into Carlisle for some time. They are very keen on the location.”

He declined to name the interested parties.

However, the News & Star understands that one is Manchester-based Inventive Leisure, which operates the Revolution chain of vodka bars.

If a deal is struck, a planning application to convert the five-storey building should follow in the autumn. The upper floors could become offices or, Mr Harrison hopes, an aparthotel.

These are an increasingly-popular alternative to conventional hotels in larger cities. Guests have a living area and kitchen facilities, as well as an en-suite bedroom, an attractive option for business people spending several days at a time away from home.

Mr Harrison said: “A conventional hotel room is 10 to 15sq metres. We would have a minimum of 29 units and we are looking at a size of 30sq metres.”

The rooms would be high specification with power showers, flat-screen TVs and internet access. There is room at the back for a 60-space car park.

Mr Harrison has not ruled out developing a roof-top terrace, which could house a bar or restaurant.

He says that efforts to attract hotel operators were hampered by the dilapidated state of the former Lonsdale Cinema next door, although he does not believe this was the deciding factor.

Have your say

Mrs Grumpy,there is only one pound shop in Carlisle,hardly inundatded is it? I've been utterly amazed at the shop snobbery recently,people need to get realistic and realise that there is not a lot of money about. Malmaison in Carlisle. Ha. There just isn't the demand. Not only is The Lonsdale close,it overlooks a taxi rank and take away. Just the ticket for a peaceful Saturday night I a luxury hotel.

Posted by CJ on 3 July 2012 at 00:32

I agree that an aparthotel and vodka bar is too ambitious and upmarket for Carlisle.

Time and time again we articles in the News and Star from well-meaning prospective developers or proprietors all starry-eyed about some fancy niche bar, restaurant or boutique something or other. About three months later we then read about how the venture has closed down.

The aspirations are all well and good but they aren't in tune with what works in the city, i.e. nothing fancy.

Botchergate for example would probably be most profitable if one side were given over to an enormous Wetherspoons with an enormous Border Rambler opposite and perhaps a couple of fish and chip shops.

Posted by Stacey Robinson on 2 July 2012 at 12:13

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