Bulgari wants to shine among London hotels

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Legendary Italian jeweller Bulgari is to open an exclusive boutique hotel in London.

Along with its partner Ritz-Carlton, the luxury US hotel chain, Bulgari is looking for a suitable site to take over in the capital. An operational hotel has been ruled out, however: the preferred option is either a new build or converting an existing building.

The hotel, which is likely to have up to 100 rooms, will be the third Bulgari outlet. The first, in partnership with Marriott International, is due to open in Milan next year, with rooms starting at €600 (£419) a night. The second will open in Bali in mid-2005 in partnership with a local business.

Ritz-Carlton's president Simon Cooper said Bulgari, which is keen to expand its brand, had made the initial approach. He added: "We like to try to find local brands that have similar customers to us. Every time you open a hotel, you in some way impact on exclusivity, so you have to be a little bit careful." The deal will also bolster the US chain's European growth plans: in certain parts of Europe, such as London, other Ritz-branded hotels not owned by the company have hindered its expansion.

Bulgari, the world's number three jeweller behind Cartier and Tiffany & Co, is listed on the Milan stock market with a value of €2.4bn, although the founder's family still own around 54 per cent of the company. As well as its trademark bold jewellery, it also produces watches, perfumes and accessories. Famous clients have included Richard Burton, Elizabeth Taylor and Grace Kelly.

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