A new eco-friendly tourism market for Norwich - New life for landmark city centre site
Norwich is soon to have its first backpackers hostel, a whole new tourism market for the city and the next venture for father and son, Alister and Jason Borthwick.
The team behind the award winning, eco-friendly tourism facilities at Deepdale Farm on the north Norfolk coast, are in the process of developing a hostel in the centre of Norwich, having just purchased the somewhat derelict Ferry Boat Inn on King St.
“The Ferry Boat will make an excellent location for our second hostel. King Street is an easy walk to the main attractions of the City, train and bus station. The river access means we can offer canoe hire and with national cycle route no1 passing the front door we can also offer cycle hire. We are really excited about the opportunities this site offers. The planners like our ideas to regenerate the site and we look forward to working with them to develop a really exciting landmark for Norwich.” said Alister Borthwick.
The Ferry Boat Inn has been closed for over 3 years. The only way it could compete with the chain pubs was as a live music venue, but after much of the river frontage was developed into flats, live music was no longer welcome and the pub was forced to close. Greene King, the previous owners, had considered developing the site into a pub restaurant, but decided the £1m to £2m price tag wasn’t a viable investment. Instead they put the building on the market and the Borthwicks bought the property in early February.
“Our primary use for the site will be backpackers accommodation, mainly private ensuite rooms and family rooms, with a few dorms, which will all be accommodated in a new eco-friendly building on the site. We plan to lease out the hostel, much as we have done at Deepdale, and the canoe hire, cycle hire and café may go to the same tenant or to separate tenants depending on who approaches us. Now that we have bought the site, plans will develop.” said Jason Borthwick.
“We know groups like CAMRA (Campaign for Real Ale) are keen to see the pub reopen. We definitely feel that a small real ale pub on the site as part of the overall development, would be an excellent addition. This might be run by the tenants of the hostel or as a separate entity, maybe CAMRA know of interested parties and can put them in touch with us. In the meantime we’ll be developing plans for the accommodation, canoe hire, cycle hire and café, looking for tenants for the whole or parts of the site and the possibility of a pub will develop as and when interested tenants approach us.”
Norwich Backpackers Hostel will link up with the well established Deepdale Backpackers & Camping on the north Norfolk coast and with any other backpackers style accommodation that exists in the county or region, including hostels and campsites. The new hostel will open up Norfolk and Norwich to a market that is virtually untapped currently. Most other historic cities, such as York and Bath, support two or more hostels. Norwich’s YHA closed over 7 years ago and no other backpacker hostel accommodation is available, yet the city and the surrounding area fit perfectly with the backpacker market.
The backpacker travel market is quite simply unique. Backpacker hostels offer simple clean quality accommodation, but with one major difference to hotels and other accommodation - the social interaction of fellow travellers, passing on stories and experiences. “Many friendships you develop when backpacking, stay with you for life. Staying in a hostel is a very ‘unBritish’ experience, you chat to people, join people for activities and food. Backpackers are all ages and from all backgrounds, it’s a state of mind!” said Jason.
“The best thing about the backpacker market, is the positive effects on the local area. Hostels work closely with many other local businesses, from those offering activities to attractions, museums, restaurants, pubs and more. We are really looking forward to creating jobs, working with Norwich businesses and adding to this great city.”
Norwich Backpackers Hostel plans to open its doors to customers in 2011. In the meantime watch http://www.norwichbackpackers.co.uk for the latest information.
Photo courtesy of Norwich Backpackers