• Mondrian for London

Morgans Hotel Group has continued its rehabilitation by announcing that it will be expanding its portfolio in London with the launch of its Mondrian brand.

The company, which has been making the move from owner/operator to manager as it sells sites to cut its debt, is to run a hotel in Sea Containers House, marking the ongoing rejuvenation of London's South Bank.

The building is owned by Archlane, which bought the site in 2004, and the news was revealed when  the owner applied for planning permission to refurbish the property and develop it into a mixed-use site. In addition to the hotel, it is looking to add offices and retail and entertainment space.

The move will be in line with the property's original destiny, when it was designed in the 1970s to be a hotel, before being converted into office space before opening.

Morgans currently has two hotels in London, but the hotel will be the Mondrian brand's debut in Europe.  Under the Mondrian flag Morgans so far has sites in New York, Los Angeles and Miami, with Doha and the Bahamas being planned.

With a complete refurbishment being required at the hotel, it is very unlikely that it will be open in time for the 2012 Olympics. This alone would be enough to make it stand out in the UK capital's hotel development scene, where journalists have learned not to ask when a hotel was open, knowing that the answer will always be "in time for the Olympics".

The news followed the announcement last week by Pramerica that it had paid £12m for the ground lease of the Great Northern Hotel, the oldest purpose-built hotel in London. The deal was done with Ram Group (which retains the 175-year head lease on the site) ahead of the hotel's opening which, as with the Mondrian, is expected to be after the Olympics.

The performance of London during the downturn has cemented its position as a safe haven for investors. There had been concerns that the scramble to open in time for the Olympics would create an excess of supply in the market but, as the Mondrian and Great Northern look to prove, London will remain attractive long after its residents have exhausted the thrills available in their new velodrome.

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