Over the past ten years there has been a substantial net increase in hotel beds in Ipswich, particularly mid-market accommodation. New hotels have been built from scratch, notably the Penta Hotel in Ranelagh Road, the Travelodge in Duke Street and the Premier Inn. Actually, there are now three additional Premier Inns: Augusta Close on Ransomes industrial estate, The Oyster Reach on Bourne Hill, Wherstead and The Beagle in Sproughton.
Recently improved hotels include Belstead Brook, now part of the MGM Muthu group, the Novotel which has benefited from a £2.5 million refit and the Holiday Inn, London Road which has just been upgraded. The newcomer is the easyHotel in Northgate Street, a minimalist hotel offering just the very basics, so basic in fact that some rooms have no natural light – they do, however, have clean sheets and an en suite shower.
As can be expected, the easyHotel’s rates are the lowest in town, but only marginally more expensive is Marston’s Inn adjacent to the Mermaid, Yarmouth Road which has the benefit of car parking.
One would assume therefore that with the increase in available hotel beds occupancy would be thinly spread. Not so; most hotels report a healthy percentage of overnight stays, particularly Monday to Wednesday. Hotel manager Nuwan Jayasena, claims that the Novotel is achieving 90% early in the week. On average 2,500 visitors spend the night in a hotel* in Ipswich.
[*hotel, guest house, bed & breakfast etc.]
Ipswich isn’t yet the most popular destination for weekend breaks and, with the exception of when the football club play a successful side, hotel rooms are usually available. This is regrettable; Ipswich is an ideal centre for touring the Suffolk coast, Constable country and the wool towns of west Suffolk.
How do we change things? It’s really down to us, to recommend Ipswich to friends, family and work colleagues, to sell the positives: the history, the Waterfront, the cultural offer (count the theatres and cinema screens, include the Dance House and the music venues). Also to ensure that they come along to one of the festivals: Jazz, Spill, Music Day, Global Rhythms, One Big Cultural, Maritime, Summer Mela and so on.