Architect Broadway Malyan has designed the first – a £10m conversion of the listed Twyford Abbey, in Park Royal, west London, conveniently accessible from Heathrow by London Underground.
The developer is Urban Backpackers, based in Perth, Western Australia. Besides the 2000-bed London scheme, it is considering other sites in Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Liverpool, Bath and York.
In Broadway Malyan's London scheme, the grade II-listed, 17th-century Twyford Abbey will be retained for hotel use, and Victorian and 1960s additions will be demolished. Discussions are under way with English Heritage over conversion of the disused abbey, which is set in walled gardens.
The Twyford Abbey scheme may be considered more favourably by planners because no car parking will be provided. "Parking was always a problem on the site before," said a source at Broadway Malyan, who added that the long-term plan was to run minibuses between Twyford Abbey and the other hotels in the UK.
The scheme is an attempt to target the cheaper end of the hotel market, and is a response to fears that the expensive end of the London hotel market is becoming saturated.
If 5% of the backpackers who arrive at Heathrow stay at the hotel, it will be full broadway malyan source
The beds will be a mixture of single, family and dormitory-style rooms in the abbey, with some new-build areas adjoining it. As well as hotel accommodation, it includes shops, bars, restaurants, laundry rooms, television rooms, saunas, outdoor sports facilities and an outdoor barbecue area. A source at the architect said: "It is an enclosed environment. The idea is to charge backpackers virtually nothing for the room, but sell them a swipecard they can use to buy everything else they need within the complex – like padlocks, food, contraceptives and beer.
"It will be airport-style catering so Urban Backpackers does not have to get through approval for a restaurant. Beers in the bar will be sold in vending machines.
"The developer estimates that if 5% of the backpackers who arrive at Heathrow every day stay at the hotel, it will be full." The scheme will be submitted next month. If approved, it is expected to be a catalyst for the development of the Park Royal Regeneration Area, a zone of former industrial estates on London's North Circular orbital road.
Urban Backpackers operates five similar hotels on the west and east coasts of Australia catering for people from Britain and Europe.
The Park Royal scheme will be its biggest hotel so far.