Southern Grove The Workshops

Autonomous hotel comes to Steel City

The final phase of Southern Grove’s £35m Steel City in Sheffield will be an autonomous, no-contact, aparthotel which the developer said is part of a “bigger trend” towards hotels without staff.

Guests will be able to book online, receive a code and access their apartment in a ‘hands-off’ method which means they won’t need to speak to another human being.

The £5m third phase of Steel City on Garden Street will mark the completion of the project, adding 19 serviced apartments to 324 student bedrooms created on the same site by sister company Future Generation. The project will be delivered by Southern Grove’s hospitality division.

Named The Workshops, Southern Grove said the apartments represent a new hospitality concept for short-term city lets.

During term time, the apartments, designed by Axis Architecture, can mainly be used by parents and friends visiting student tenants, allowing a consistent occupancy rate in off-season periods.

The project is being built behind the historic red-brick façade of an old workshop, which is being retained and restored.

Andrew Southern, chairman of Southern Grove and Future Generation, said: “The irony of unveiling an apartment block, half way through a pandemic, where guests don’t have to see anyone else hasn’t escaped us.

“Clearly social distancing wasn’t what we had in mind when we conceived of The Workshops but these units do operate almost independently. They are completely self-contained and can be accessed by guests without any human interaction.

“The lower staffing costs are a deliberate strategy. Guests get a premium product at a price they’re not expecting. A lot of people realise they pay a hefty fee to stay in city centre hotels and are aware that much of that cash is being used to pay staff when they barely spend any time there.

“Steel City Phase 3 has no staff and the only other visitors, besides guests, will be the cleaners who reset the apartments between stays. We think this is part of a bigger trend towards better value accommodation where money isn’t wasted on things guests don’t value.”

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