The regeneration of Southampton has had an unexpected side effect – where do all the contractors live?
In 2011 Southampton set out on a grand plan to revitalise itself, not just as one of the most important ports in Europe, but as a vibrant place to live and one of the South’s great business powerhouses. Five years on, that plan is bearing fruit in abundance. The cruise industry business alone brings more than £300 million each year, and the container port is once again bustling. Business has responded as expected, and new construction of office and residential sites is at a higher level than many residents can remember.
Of course, projects like Hammerson’s Watermark WestQuay development bring thousands of contractors, labourers and skilled professionals of all kinds into the city. Some stay only for a few days but others need to spend weeks, months or even years in the city without permanently moving house. No one really likes living out of hotels – just thinking about sleeping on a Premier Inn bed for 2 months makes my back hurt – so these contractors, workers and professionals are on the look-out for a more homey but still less than permanent option.
This the rise in the number of prime serviced accommodation properties in the area over the last few years.
What is serviced accommodation?
Serviced accommodation buildings are similar to the ‘residential hotels’ of yesteryear, but with very comfortable, fully modern interiors that can truly begin to feel like home after you’ve settled in properly. Some (more suited to short stays or true workaholics) are little more than one-room studio flats or particularly well-furnished hotel rooms. Others are multi-bedroom affairs that can be a home away from home for a family of 5 or 6, or possibly an entire business team.
All are, of course, serviced. That means that just like a hotel the room(s) will be periodically cleaned, restocked, and even fresh towels and tiny bars of soap are typically available. Many facilities offer much more, though. There is often access to secluded outdoor areas or landings, gym or exercise facilities, a swimming pool or even a spa. Many feature fully stocked kitchens and laundry facilities in each room, and most offer restaurant-style dining options as well.
But not every serviced accommodation customer is in construction, not by a long shot. These facilities are popular with holidaymakers, especially those travelling as a family or group. They also come to the rescue of people who live in the area but need to vacate their home for a time, whether for repairs or renovation or for any other reason.
In any case, the construction boom in Southampton is expected to last well into the 2030s, and the serviced accommodation sector should thrive a lot longer than that!
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