Does Thwaites hotel sale highlight renewed investor appetite?

Small business veterans keeping an eye on hotels for sale in the UK may like to take note of what pub owner Thwaites had to say about last month's sale of the Stafford Hotel in Mayfair.

Philip Johnston, head of hotels at Savills (who advised Thwaites on the multimillion-pound sale), said the deal with leisure firm Britannia Hospitality highlighted renewed investor appetite in the hotel sector - "for the right asset, marketed carefully".

Granted, he also pointed out that the £77.5 million purchase represents one of the biggest such deals seen in London in the last two or three years - though it wasn't quite the £100 million the hotel's shareholders had hoped for.

Thwaites - probably best known for its Lancaster Bomber and Nutty Black ales - has around 400 pubs and nine Shire Hotels on its books, and it owned the 105-bedroom Stafford for 14 years before putting it up for sale at the end of 2008.

Representatives for the East Lancashire brewery have said the funds from the hotel sale will help them pay off various business loans, as well as leaving them well positioned to finance "appropriate development opportunities" in the future.

"The sale of such a trophy asset and prime piece of real estate is good news for us and the market overall," concluded Philip Johnston.