IT PROMISES a touch of mystique and dash of decadence in a heady cocktail of modern-day luxury that harks back to glittering days gone by.
Seeking to emulate the style of the 1920s era with an “opulent” offering of boutique hotel, restaurant and cocktail bar, House of Gods Hotel co-founder Mike Baxter says the Edinburgh-based business has done a roaring trade since the end of lockdown and it has set the scene for a raft of new openings, starting in Glasgow next year.
The business was launched by Mike, 46, and his brother Ross, 43, who complement each other’s own strengths, in 2015, and is on the verge of its largest expansion.
He said: “House of Gods has had a fantastic summer, it has been really busy, and now we are looking forward to the return of the Christmas market and all the good stuff that that brings with it.”
The firm’s new restaurant, Casablanca, has also just opened in the Scottish capital, and it had 500 bookings within 20 minutes.
“The food’s a lot of fun, we have a 24-carat gold Wagyu burger served on a Versace plate.”
The firm fared well with staff as it has a strong pay and training and development policy, but has felt the force of supply chain challenges.
“We made a point of becoming a living wage employer and we’ve also taken that up to the next level so our opening wage in the hotel is £10 an hour which is £1 above living wage.
“That was a decision we made as a company for our staff.
“We pride ourselves on great training and development. Working at House of Gods is good for the CV but also if you want to stay for a long time as we are building all these new venues.
“We have taken special care of our staff and it is reflecting in our ability to keep hold of people and to ensure that they enjoy coming to work and want to work for us.”
He said: “I know that there is a lot of problems in the industry. On one side it is a good thing for the industry. In the past there has been a belief that if you go into hospitality it is not vocational, it is a stop-gap.
“The levels of service that hospitality provides is excellent whether it is with cocktails or just incredible experiences in restaurants or in hospitality in general.
“If you want to build a really great workforce with people who want to stay in the industry this pressure on increasing wages and increasing training for everyone is a really positive thing for the industry in the long term and I’m sure we’ll attract far more people back to the industry and into the industry for the first time.
“So I’m very happy about this general push on the wages.”
On the supply chain, he said: “I think as a result of some of the staff shortages in things like delivery, that has been difficult, it hasn’t been without its challenges but you are just trying to keep head of yourself.
“The people that we work with like Tennent’s and suppliers like that have been fantastic.
“It has been an interesting time. Everything switched on very, very quickly post-pandemic.
“The summer was really challenging but it is definitely settling down now.”
The builders are already in the former Peckhams in Glassford Street in Glasgow preparing for a summer 2022 launch.
“We are on-site in Glasgow now. The demolition works are well under way. It has been really nice to reveal this building that was built in 1908, and has had a lot of various uses.
Like a lot of these buildings, it has been built in and built in, and getting smaller and smaller, so we’ve had a 113 years of downtaking to take out, so it is really nice to see the building stripped back to its original form.
“We are incredibly excited about Glasgow, a lot of our customers already come through from Glasgow to House of Gods in Edinburgh, so we have a strong following in Glasgow, especially across our social media channels.
“I just absolutely cannot wait to open Glasgow because I just think they’re really going to get House of Gods, you know.”
He said: “My family are from Paisley so my grandfather worked for Rolls Royce in Hillington and we moved through to Edinburgh.
“I come from a nightclub and property development background and my brother was an engineer with a big oil company.
“I suppose I do kind of like creative side of the business and my brother is very much the backbone of the business and keeps everything running straight.
“It’s a really great partnership. You can get away with a lot more when you are brothers.”
He added: “Glasgow and Manchester are being built now and we are currently looking for our fourth site for House of Gods and we are looking at places like Birmingham, Brighton, Newcastle, Leeds, Liverpool, Bristol.
“These are the kind of key places we would like to go next. We have very ambitious plans to have one in every city very shortly.
“If there’s nightlife, and people enjoy cocktails, and people go to the city for an evening away, that works for us.”
What countries have you most enjoyed travelling to, for business or leisure, and why?
I spend a significant amount of time travelling the country looking for opportunity and sites for House of Gods, it’s been a wonderful way to experience many of the great cities around the UK. I make sure on every visit to spend a good bit of time visiting hotels, restaurants and cocktail bars, it’s not the worst job to have.
As a former competitive skier I very much enjoy spending leisure time in France during the winter months. Courchevel is my favourite although these days it’s got a lot more to do with the great wine and food rather than the skiing.
When you were a child, what was your ideal job? Why did it appeal?
I was always involved in hospitality, from a very young age I was renting nightclubs and selling tickets to my friends, this progressed to promoting student nights when I attended university. Hospitality has been my passion since day one, I’m very lucky to have found my perfect vocation at such a young age.
What was your biggest break in business?
Making the decision to partner with my brother Ross, we have always been close but our personality’s are very different. Ross is a ex offshore engineer, his approach is very systematic, organised and operational, I’m on the other had more creatively focused spending my days dreaming of opulent interiors and over the top experiences. Our partnership brings balance to the company.
What was your worst moment in business?
I’ve been in business for 30 years I’ve definitely learnt there is no easy road. You win and lose. It’s sounds cliche however as long as your moving forward and in the fight it’s all part of the journey, both the highs and the lows.
Who do you most admire and why?
I live by the mantra that you are the average of the 5 people you spend your most amount of time with. I have surrounded myself with exceptional people at work both within the company and our partners. I also spend a significant amount of time listening to TED talks, although I can’t count the likes of Bill Gates as a friend, I can spend time listening and gaining insight from some of the worlds most prominent thought leaders.
What book are you reading and what music are you listening to?
I spend most of my time reading P&Ls and financial reports!! Regards music my taste is very eclectic from rocknroll to House music (as a former club promoter I have a real passion for the early Chicago House sound of the 80s). Today I’m listening to The Snuts and absolutely loving there music.