Thistle Hotels

Thistle Hotels, run by glh., is a UK-based hotel company with a portfolio of 8 Central London hotels and one in Dorset,[1] operating in the three and four star sector.

Thistle Hotels
HeadquartersUxbridge, England, UK
Area served
United Kingdom
Key people
Neil Gallagher CEO
Quek Leng Chan Chairman
Peter Herbet CFO Paul Knightley
Revenue£287m (2004)
ParentGLH Hotels Management (UK) Ltd
The Thistle City Barbican Hotel in London


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. During the subsequent recession, the debt taken on to fund the transaction became unsustainable, resulting in Mount Charlotte being 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 to 1996.

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 operated under the Thistle name. In June 2003, the company was bought for £627m by BIL International, a private equity company based in Singapore (but registered in Bermuda) owned by the Hong Leong Group and the majority shareholder since 1990. Thistle Hotels was delisted from the London Stock Exchange. In 2004, it opened its Cumberland Hotel in London[2] after a £95 million renovation, which operated under the Guoman 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, they were the Thistle London Islington and the Thistle London Ryan.

In 2008, Thistle Hotels announced that it is currently undergoing a re-branding of £100 million in order to maintain consistency across the group.

Thistle Cardiff the Parc reopened in September 2008 after being closed for 17 months due to fire[3] and has been refurbished throughout. The hotel underwent a £15m transformation.

In 2015, the managed part of the estate was sold by its owners CIT Holdings Ltd. glh. was unsuccessful in its bid,[4] meaning the majority of the provincial estate changed management, being run by Accor hotels.[5]

Presence in London

Thistle operates five luxury hotels in London under the Guoman brand, namely the Tower Hotel, the Charing Cross, the Royal Horseguards, the Grosvenor (formally Thistle Victoria)[6] and previously The Cumberland Hotel.


The CEO was Tim Scoble until 2012, he was the CEO of Little Chef for two years from 2004-6. He was succeeded by Mike De Noma who was CEO from 2012 - 2016. The current CEO is Neil Gallagher who took over the role in June 2016.[7]


  1. "Central London Hotels - Best Prices Guaranteed - Thistle Hotels". Retrieved 8 June 2019.
  2. Cumberland Hotel London "".
  3. "Man arrested over blaze at hotel". 29 December 2006. Retrieved 8 June 2019.
  4. "GLH Hotels". Retrieved 8 June 2019.
  5. Rob (17 June 2015). "Thistle quietly losing two-thirds of its hotels on July 30th!". Retrieved 8 June 2019.
  6. "The Grosvenor Hotel Location & Contact Information - Guoman Hotels". Retrieved 8 June 2019.
  7. "Press Release".