Christine Boothroyd owns and runs The Chambers in Leeds, the first serviced apartments in the North. The Chambers have been voted the top/number 1 Hotel in Leeds according to Trip Advisor for 3 years running – winning Travellers’ Choice 2013 for the second year running. The Chambers was also voted into the Top 20 as The Place to stay in the UK by Trip Advisor, out of 16,500 venues. It is also a hotspot for TV and film; a well known media hangout.
Describe a typical day for you?
For a starter, nothing is typical in my life, every day is different. Most days start with a call to The Chambers to check everything is running smoothly and to catch up on the latest bookings. I have a great team who are like family and run the hotel exactly how I would when I’m not there; we work in a very open and honest environment. Being in the hotel business requires constant shopping, (not that I’m complaining!) I have become somewhat of a pro and usually aim to do any buying from the wholesalers by lunchtime.
My day can be a lot more manic when that time comes to refurbish one of our 92 city centre apartments. It can entail travelling to buy furniture, ordering fabrics, and choosing the right paint to go on the walls.
Sounds easy but it all must be in keeping with The Chambers ‘look’ which is style lead homeliness. I can spend hours in apartments homemaking and arranging furniture to exactly the right spot. It’s all worth it at the end of the day though when we receive such good feedback from the first person staying in it. Once a week I bake cookies in my aga to put in the apartments for our new arrivals, I have got it down to a fine art, 3 hours for 120 biscuits.
We’re very lucky, we don’t advertise but we seem to get lots of returning guests. Many of them are more like friends now and the famous film or TV star always brightens my day. We even had the Australian cricket team a while ago, I’ve never seen so much sports gear and cricket bats in my life!
The Chambers is an oasis of calm and relaxes everyone that passes through our little hidden secret.
I like to have a glass of wine in the courtyard in summer or read the paper in front of the fire in the winter. Heading home in the evening is hard for us all, especially if we have an event to organise such as a conference, launch party or seminar. I just love meeting people! Twitter is my latest obsession, it has almost taken over Sudoku and is a form of relaxation for me.
What are your biggest achievements?
1. My four children. They make me proud that they have all grown into well rounded and interesting individuals who all enhance my life daily. I was lucky I didn’t have to work when they were small but to fill the void of them flying the nest I started to work part-time as an estate agent to shoe horn them into me not being there at their beck and call!
2. The Chambers. I started the first serviced apartments ever in Leeds after seeing the concept work in Dubai. I wanted to offer a solution to a gap in the market between a hotel and a long term contract in an apartment, a home away from home. Thankfully, it worked and it’s our 10th Anniversary this year, so we must be doing something right!
3. My marriage to Richard of 30 years.
What’s in your Handbag?
Billy Bag purse bulging with receipts and trade cards. Costco Amex which gives 3% cash back on my purchases, there is a small saving but if you look after the pennies, the pounds look after themselves! No cash – although some loose change can always ! Make up of course, my choice is Chanel lippy – rouge coco 31. Estee Lauder blusher. Clinique hand cream (I worked for them for 8 years, so I am addicted to certain products!) A pair of leather gloves for dog walking. A GU10 Light bulb – well you never know in my line of work! Denman mini hair brush. Mont Blanc pen. Rayban wayfarer sunnies. Liberty prints floral hankie from TK Maxx – bought a selection at Christmas and never gave them away! Note pad – TK Maxx. Alan key, tape measure, various screws and screwdriver – again you never know! iPhone – what did we do without them: it is my diary, camera, emails and friend.
What are your ambitions?
I think I’ve achieved a lot so far in my life but I would like to travel more – I have a tick list of places I would like to visit, including Argentina, Mauritius and South Africa. I want to help make The Chambers the best it can be and to continue the success we have experienced so far. Everyone needs something to come home for! Most importantly to live a healthy, happy and mobile life.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Still in Yorkshire pursuing my dreams, taking more time away and possibly doing a few Grandma duties, although they will have to book me!
What advice would you give to a budding hotel owner/entrepreneur?
First and foremost, look after your staff as they are your ambassadors. Be realistic and base your business on firm foundations. Talk to professionals and take good advice. Do your homework – if it is a new concept as The Chambers was, find out why it has not been done before. Have a Plan B – if serviced apartments hadn’t worked we would have done long term lets. Watch your overheads, be frugal yet spend on quality, cutting corners shows in the long term. Question your day to day costings and do not live beyond your means. Love what you do, work certainly wears thin if you don’t!
Finally, happiness is….
Happiness is whatever I am doing be it work, shopping, travelling or resting with friends.
Happiness is the reward at the end of the day, something you earned. You only get out what you put in.
Happiness is the wages of continual commitments. Happiness inspires me to work hard, try to inspire and share my enthusiasm for life!
Visit The Chambers website.
Follow The Chambers on twitter.
Read Honest Mum’s review on the hotel apartments here.