We spoke to Ida from The Pearl Hotel to find out more about their property and see how they are feeling about their shortlisting for ‘Outstanding Host’ at the eviivo awards.   

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Can you tell us more about your property?

Our property is a small boutique hotel. It’s a very small business we started it with just 6 rooms about 4 and a half years ago. We did not expect to be as successful as we are today, that was very unexpected. It’s a family-run business. We have done all the design ourselves. We used special architects and designers – it’s inspired by Moroccan and Turkish design. We just wanted to do something that is different. We have also just bought the restaurant next door. It used to be a Thai restaurant run by another company – which was not something we were keen on. Now we’ve taken it over it, and in 2 months we will be opening the first Moroccan restaurant in Peterborough. It will be very exciting, as the restaurant will complete the look to the hotel. One thing that we do that is different from the other accommodation is breakfast in bed – which is complimentary. We prepare the tray, with a little vase with flowers, and deliver it at the time they’ve requested. So they don’t need to spend time getting ready, the breakfast goes to them.

How important is your design?

It is very important because people see the pictures first before they book. So design is something which makes people look further.

How important is your online presence?

Very important! You can’t just upload a picture from your smartphone and put it on your website or on the travel websites. It’s important to hire a professional photographer. Then choose the best pictures of the rooms that best represent our property. Obviously, it’s not a cheap thing to do but it’s definitely worth it. Our business is always evolving so we’re constantly uploading and updating our pictures.

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What’s the most important thing about running your own accommodation?

The first thing is to give people good quality accommodation, and for a good price. The second thing is personal service.  I think that’s the winning point of our business. It’s not just anyone checking in and going on with their day. We want to know more about them and more about their journey. We are trying to build a future relationship with this customer. And hopefully in the future they’ll book with us again directly. The third thing is making people feel at home. Because a lot of people now a days are living on a daily basis in hotels as that’s what their job is. And because a lot of businesses are set up in Peterborough, a lot of people from London are practically living Monday to Friday in Peterborough. So they are spending more time in hotels than they are at home.

How did you get into the industry?

The family I worked for came from a restaurant background so they purchased this place, which used to be a Harvester.  It was a 2 floor restaurant and when they took it over I was managing their restaurant and they asked me what shall we do with the upstairs space because we didn’t want a 2 floored restaurant as it’s too big for such a small town. And then one of the family members who is an architect suggested making it into rooms. And we decided to go ahead! We made 6 executive rooms and they are not like chain hotels. With chain hotels they are very much the same, it doesn’t matter which location you go, it’s the same. But we wanted to do something really nice with bright colours, luxury furniture, crystal lights and led lights. We wanted something that people hadn’t seen before. And after one or two weeks of opening, we were fully booked. Then I spoke to the family and I said we should think about expanding the business. We then went from 6 to 11 rooms to fill the demand. And again it was really popular. We were number one on TripAdvisor, number one on Booking.com and highly rated on LateRooms. Two years after the family opened the hotel, they decided to invest more money into it and they built a separate floor downstairs. 10 more boutique rooms. And since then we are working with 100% occupancy – we are fully occupied every day. It’s a great thing, because we would never have imagined this. We would never have believed that after 4 and a half years we would be where we are today. We are very proud.

What’s the best compliment you’ve received about a stay with you?

We have a lot of great reviews on TripAdvisor, but the best compliment is when people say that they feel home. That really says it all.

Read more customer stories here.