It’s time to sit down and pick the brain of our founder, Robert Godwin. Here’s what he has to say about his inspiration to open the world’s first hometel and his future aspirations.
It was a sunny afternoon in Southampton and the light was breaking through the window into the Living Room. Rob was sitting in front of me having his first flat white of the day and enjoying the relaxed start of the morning. For a busy man running a unique business he doesn’t get to experience many slow mornings like this – he’s usually rushing around to meetings, travelling between Southampton, Hammersmith and potential sites, all to develop the hometel brand.
How did the idea of room2 came about?
RG: room2 was born from understanding people and their accommodation needs. Guests are flocking to Airbnb, it gives people flexibility, comfort and routine. However, it lacks the security, services and the quality assurance of a hotel. There was a gap in the market in the real estate sector for a place between Airbnb and a hotel. We wanted to change this, to give people more options and create a space that suits the needs of the modern-day traveller.
Where did you get your inspiration from for the design of room2?
RG: The design inspiration behind room2 came from design-led hotels, such as Ace and Soho House, which I was inspired by as they stand out not just with their aesthetics, but with the different approach of established hotel perceptions. The core of room2 is to create a community and to give guests the opportunity to connect with the brand. We wanted to expand the concept of the modern traveller by thinking about what millennials will expect to find in an accommodation that has been created to be both comfortable and functional.
What did you have to do to make sure room2 was different to other hotels?
RG: We created a place for guests to live in instead of treating it as a room they are only temporary staying at. In order to do this, we had to have a different approach to any of our competitors. It is important for us to be flexible and open so that the guests can make the most out of their stay and know that they can talk to us about anything. As being a part of a community, we wanted to make sure that we work with local businesses and our guests know this. We are all a big family – this is what we want our visitors to feel when they book a room with us.
Why did you pick Southampton as the location of the second room2 site?
RG: We see opportunities to invest in locations where other hotel owners underinvest. The guests of room2 appreciate the alternative we offer of a creative space, which opens the way they think. As Southampton is a place that supports communities, we decided that it was the perfect location for a brand with family value. We are currently considering as well as inviting purchase and partnership opportunities across the country and are already working on plans to open room2 sited in other UK locations such as Manchester and Chiswick.
At just 30, this is your second business, following a successful leadership undertaking the role of MD for Lamington Group. What did you do before getting into the real estate sector?
RG: For 10 year my brother Stu and I travelled and raced boats for Great Britain. I competed at the highest international level but have always been interested in the real estate sector. Part of my racing experience was staying in different accommodations that began to feel soulless to me after a while. This is when I first started thinking about the concept of a hometel. I wanted to create a space where design and personality meet and the only rules about the stay are the ones that the guests make so that travellers can feel at home whilst being away from it.
What can we expect to see you achieving in the future?
RG: I am focused on working to expand the growth of design-led hotels across the country. As a subcategory, I believe that room2 has the potential to shift the perceptions of the real estate sector and give travellers more options to choose from. We currently have plans set in place to work on a pipeline of 200+ units over three sites and after that increase to 1000 in the next eight years.