Thistle Hotels

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Thistle Hotels
Industry Hospitality
Founded 1965
Headquarters Uxbridge, England
Area served
United Kingdom
Key people
Tim Scoble CEO
Quek Leng Chan Chairman
Steve Bailey CFO
Revenue £287m (2004)
Parent Guoman Hotel Management (UK) Limited
The Thistle City Barbican Hotel in London

Thistle Hotels, run by glh., is a UK-based hotel company with a portfolio of 12 hotels,[1] operating in the three and four star sector.


It was set up by Scottish & Newcastle in 1965, to combine its own traditional legacy hotels with purpose built hotels. Mount Charlotte Investments bought thirty four Thistle hotels from S&N, and acquired the Thistle brand name for £645m in November 1989. Debt acquired from the transaction surrogated Mount Charlotte Investments with no choice but to be taken over by Brierley Investments of New Zealand for £664m in 1990.

The chain was the main shirt sponsor for Leeds United AFC from 1993-96.

In 1997, the company floated on the Stock Exchange, to become Thistle Hotels plc, valued at £620m. In September 1998, it sold 30 provincial hotels to Grace Hotels (owned by the Lehman Brothers investment bank) for £62.7m, becoming managed by Peel Hotels. In July 1999, it sold the Charles Dickens Hotel in London to the Ryan Hotel Group for £20m. In June 2002, it initially sold 37 of its hotels to Orb Estates of Jersey for £598m, continuing to manage the properties, but the hotels are eventually sold to Atlantic Hotels for £700m and being operated under the Thistle name. In June 2003, the company was bought for £627m by BIL International, a private equity company based in Singapore owned by the Hong Leong Group and the majority shareholder since 1990. BIL is actually, for accountancy purposes, registered in Bermuda. Thistle Hotels was delisted from the London Stock Exchange. In 2004, it opened its Cumberland Hotel in London after a £95 million renovation, which operated under the Guoman deluxe brand. In May 2005, it sold six hotels to the Topland Group under a leaseback deal for £185m.

It used to be based in The Calls in Leeds, then moved to Uxbridge.

In 2004, budget hotel company Travelodge bought two Thistle Hotels in London.

Thistle Hotels is currently undergoing a re-branding of £100 million in order to maintain consistency across the group.

Thistle Cardiff the Parc has now re-opened after being closed for 17 months due to fire and has been refurbished throughout.

From 1993 until 1996, Thistle Hotels sponsored Leeds United.

In 2015 the managed part of the estate was sold by its owners CIT Holdings Ltd and unfortunately GLH Ltd were unsuccessful in their bidding[2] meaning the vast majority of the provincial estate changed management. Accor hotels now manage a large part of the former thistle sites.[3]


The CEO was Tim Scoble until 2012, he was the CEO of Little Chef for two years from 2004-6.

Mike De Noma joined as the new CEO in 2012

Guoman brand[edit]

Thistle now operates five luxury hotels in London under this brand, namely the Tower Hotel, the Cumberland Hotel, the Charing Cross, the Royal Horseguards,the Grosvenor (formally Thistle Victoria)

In April 2009, after a £19 million refurbishment, The Royal Horseguards received official 5-star accreditation, and was the first hotel in the Guoman portfolio to receive this rating.


External links[edit]