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Beds and Bars Celebrates Its 60th Birthday

2024 marks 60 years since the birth of Beds and Bars. The business, still primarily a family-owned and run organisation, has developed from just one site on Goldhawk Road, West London, into a leading operator of tourist accommodation and entertainment venues in Europe, with backpacker hostels, bars and traditional British pubs in 12 cities and eight countries.

At the heart of Beds and Bars’ success has been its people and its values. The businesses’ motto ‘Live Your Life’ is a true reflection of this commitment to its staff. Coined by the late wife of Beds and Bars CEO Keith, Franca Knowles developed the ‘Live Your Life’ mission following the launch of Belushi’s Bars and St Christopher’s Inns.

Franca believed in ‘Live Your Life’ with all of her heart – and was quickly adopted company wide. Franca passed away in 2014, but her love for people, her compassion and her tireless work remains the heart and soul of the business; and so her motto still stands stronger than ever to this day.

To celebrate 60 years of success for Beds and Bars, we reached out to our partners, friends and valued competitors to find out more about the impact the organisation has had on the hospitality industry over the past six decades.

Starting with a quote from Beds and Bars CEO, Keith Knowles:

“At the core of what we do are the four cornerstones of the experience we strive to deliver – one that is safe, secure, fun and value for money.

“Our leadership team together have over 150 years of experience in the hospitality industry. In the beginning we identified a niche in the budget accommodation market and focused on the backpacker sector. Over the last three decades we have taken the original model of 50 beds above a pub and evolved it into a concept that involves bespoke buildings with more than 500 beds.”

Steve Richards, Chief Executive, Parkdean Resorts said:

‘I’ve known BBG for many years now and was fortunate to advice its board for several years pre covid. This insight confirmed what I knew already; this business is serious about its people, its culture, its values, and its customers. Few businesses last 10 years, let alone 60, so clearly there is something special here and I’m delighted to join the leadership team of BBG in their celebrations in hitting that milestone. It’s no surprise to me (or anyone connected to the business and its team) and I salute Keith, the family and the team in their endeavours to continue making BBG the huge success and force for good that it is.”

Anthony Pender, CEO, Yummy Collective and Former Chair of The British Institute Of Innkeeping said:

“Beds & Bars optimises the very best of Hospitality and the teams longevity is no coincidence. Looking after your team, developing talent and making sure your venues are fun but most importantly safe spaces for guests to mingle and forget about the real world outside.
The team at beds & bars have also made massive contributions to the wider hospitality sector, passing on best practise when it comes to training and developing as well as being a strong voice and advocate for other small businesses in our amazing sector. My own business benefited from the support and wise advice of Keith and his senior team, a deed I will never under appreciate or forget. Here’s to another 60 years!”

We also heard from Yaser Martini, Founder, Team Margot:

|A 60th anniversary isn’t something that many get to celebrate and it’s all the more remarkable how the company has progressed over that time. Notably, Beds and Bars has pioneered the development and growth of an entirely new sector over the last couple of decades and it’s superb to see the business continuing to grow and succeed. Congratulations! Proud to have been involved and to have had a decade of your fantastic support.”

Alex Salussolia, Managing Director of Glendola Leisure Group wrote:

“Congratulations to Beds & Bars Group on their 60th birthday! This milestone celebrates decades of innovation and family heritage. Founded by Ron Knowles in 1964, the business has grown from managing a single pub to operating hostels and bars across Europe under the visionary leadership of Keith Knowles. Their commitment to creating vibrant, affordable travel experiences has set a high standard in the hostel world.

Their charitable work, especially with the Team Margot Foundation, remains commendable, raising significant funds and awareness for stem cell donor registration . The ‘Live Your Life’ events exemplify how businesses can make a substantial social impact, contributing to emergency grants for families.

This blend of quality service and social responsibility positions Beds & Bars for continued success and influence. As demand for budget-friendly, socially conscious travel options grows, Beds & Bars is well-placed to lead the hostel industry’s future. Here’s to many more years of success and positive impact!”

Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive of UKHospitality, said:

“Beds and Bars has been an institution in hospitality and I’d like to wish them a very happy 60th birthday. It’s been a pleasure to work with Keith for 25 years, as a dedicated supporter of the ALMR and now UKHospitality.

“Hospitality has changed enormously over that time, but while Beds and Bars has innovated to move with the times, it has always stuck to its core values of delivering great experiences, food and drink for its millions of customers, not to mention the incredible charitable work that Keith and his team undertakes for so many worthy causes.”

We also heard from Philip Thorley, Director of Thorley Taverns:

“Beds and Bars and its charismatic leader Keith Knowles have been at the forefront of hospitality for 60 years. The company has developed its brand and as importantly , its people, by investing both time and energy into them. They are a leading light in people retention & development and this has always driven its expansion and its balance sheet. Beds and Bars has always been driven forwards by its value led Leadership, here s to another 60 years of operating excellence and success.”

Matthew Phipps, Partner at TLT llp said:

“The business’ commitment to people, whether colleagues, customers and suppliers is at the heart of everything Beds and Bars does. I suspect if you get that right, as the organisation does, then the success you enjoy, follows naturally. A 60th anniversary it’s worth remembering. Something valuable that withstands extraordinary pressure, has clarity, focus and colour, – a diamond anniversary isn’t a bad analogy!”

Tim Sykes, Ex-Chairman of Beds and Bars wrote:

“Once known as R.C Knowles and then Interpub the company has gone from strength to strength over the years and especially since the birth of St Christopher’s Inns and Belushi’s Bars; not surprising then that its now known as Beds and Bars! Having spent a whisker short of 20 years with the team I can only say that I look back with pleasure having had many excitements, some ups and downs, but above all the good fortune to work with an enthusiastic and professional group of people. Times are always changing and so do the challenges of doing business; but good hospitality is no different.

So, unless the human race becomes very dull and introverted, people will always want to enjoy each other’s company and travel the world. The right strategy and execution, built on a sound understanding of the evolving market, will ensure a bright future for the company and its players. Best wishes for the coming years and LIVE YOUR LIFE Beds and Bars!”