First look inside Sunderland's new £18 million Holiday Inn hotel in Keel Square
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A key part of the £500 million Riverside masterplan which is changing the face of Sunderland, the 120-bed hotel, will help accommodate the influx of construction workers as they transform the old Vaux site, while also hosting leisure visitors to the city.
It opens to the public on Wednesday (December 14) and is already fully booked for its first night of business.
On the ground floor, an open lobby and bar is open from breakfast through to evening meals for hotel and non-residents.
In addition to meals, it serves Starbucks drinks and snacks and, with free high-speed WIFI, it is also hoping to attract remote workers.
There are four types of rooms, starting at £79 a night, across the four storeys:
*Two premium rooms
*Eight accessible rooms
Residents also have the option of using a gym suite which overlooks Keel Square.
So far the hotel, which is developed and operated by Madison Cairn, has created 50 new jobs for the city, with more set to become available in the coming months.
Rob Dixon, general manager at Holiday Inn Sunderland, said the team is looking forward to doing their bit for the regeneration of the city centre, which has been hailed as one of the most ambitious in the country.
"This has been the most anticipated hotel opening I’ve even been involved with,” he said. “We’re at the heart of all the ongoing regeneration and we feel proud to be a part of that.
“If you can’t support visitors to the local economy, a city doesn’t have a local economy, so hotels play a major role in that.
"This is an ideal location with Culture House being built opposite, the work taking place on Riverside, the new footbridge and the plans for the arena on the old Crowtree site, as well as all the excellent productions heading to the Empire.
"We are fortunate to be slap bang in the middle of all that.”
As well as the hotel itself, the new building houses four large leisure units.
The fourth unit is expected to house a retailer.
The bars are due to open in time for summer 2023 and there will also be outdoor seating around the space.
"Keel Square is going to be buzzing by next year,” said Rob. “It’s going to be a real major boost for the nighttime economy.”
Officially opening the hotel with a ribbon-cutting ceremony, Cllr Alison Smith, the Mayor of Sunderland, said: “It’s a pleasure to officially open the Holiday Inn at Keel Square, which has already made such a positive difference to the city centre skyline and – I have no doubt – will support the revival of Riverside Sunderland as the area draws in more visitors for business or pleasure.”