Published: July 3, 2020 | Updated: July 3, 2020

Laundry company launches new ‘virtual hotel’ with fine dining and sommelier room service

Matt Barker, Managing Director, Barker Group.
By Andrew Diprose, editor

“Two jackets for dry cleaning, three shirts to be laundered and pressed and a beef bourguignon and bottle of Rioja Crianza, please!”

Bournemouth-based Barker Group, the UK’s largest domestic laundry and a specialist dry cleaner, has launched a virtual ‘Barker Hotel’ as a new arm to its existing collection and delivery service.

It’s called Barker Room Service and, in addition to the usual range of laundry services, includes:

  • Kitchen: A fine dining menu with restaurateur Mark Cribb, of Urban Guild, providing a selection of mains, vegetarian and side dishes.
  • Sommelier: Jonathan Charles, who has 25 years in the wine industry, offering red, white, rosé, champagne and sparkling wines and spirits and mixers.
  • Housekeeping: Bed linen manufactured and sold under its own label, the Barker Collection.
  • Concierge: A selection of products and services which will be added over the coming weeks.   

Matt Barker, Managing Director, said: “The ‘Barker Room Service’ was conceived from much valued feedback from our customers.

“We recognised that we have a valuable opportunity as we already deliver finished laundry to over 3,000 customers every week across Greater London and Southern England.

“Without increasing our footprint we are able to deliver many other useful products, saving our clients both time and effort.

“I have wanted to expand our offering for a long time.

“The pure nature of this extraordinary time has meant it is opportune to help make the business more valuable to our customers and even better for the environment.”

The fine dining menu includes a choice of ten main dishes ranging from Chalk Stream trout en croute and coq au vin to chicken curry, fish pie and beef bourguignon.

Prices start from £5.30 with a minimum £20 order charge.

A selection of vegetarian main courses and side dishes are also available.

All frozen food is delivered in specially designed chilled packaging, ensuring meals remain below -18 degrees for up to 15 hours.

Barker Room Service says it aims to deliver to addresses within four hours of the meal being placed on its transport with dishes cooked to order.

Mark Cribb, pictured left, said: “I’m excited to partner with Matt and I think his delivery base and clientele provide the perfect route to market and new phase for Urban Guild.

“We’ve been planning on launching a Dine At Home range for a few years, and lockdown provided the perfect time to put some energy into this.

“I’ve always thought we could bring restaurant quality ingredients and chef techniques to a convenience world dominated by compromise and mediocrity.

“I think we’ve done really well and the richness of the sauce in dishes such as the coq au vin or beef bourguignon demonstrate that it is possible to improve significantly on existing offers.

“We’ll be working with Matt to further develop the range based on early customer feedback.”

Matt added: “Working with Mark has been a joy while I am learning how he cooks and freezes a delicious meal, from order to delivery within 24 hours.

“I am now looking forward to building a comprehensive menu of amazing dishes and other products over the next few months.”

Dorchester-based Jonathan Charles, pictured right, is owner of The Dorset Wine Company, founded in 2006.

It has a retail shop in Queen Mother Square, Poundbury.

Matt said: “Jonathan is incredibly passionate about the subject and brings with him a wealth of expert knowledge of wines and champagne from around the world.

“Jonathan will regularly introduce us to exciting wines to experiment with.

“Barker Room Service is trialling this new service initially in Dorset, Hampshire and Wiltshire, with delicious offerings from the Kitchen and the Sommelier.

“Housekeeping will provide the well-established laundry service and fine bedlinen supply and, within weeks, these services will be added to by the Barker Concierge service, providing further high-quality products and services that will serve to make Barker’s customers’ lives better.

“We have a very loyal existing customer base with consumers who really love the Barker brand and the quality of what we offer.

“Barker Room Service will initially be for our existing client base and we look forward to expanding the service to many more over the coming months.”

Barker, which can trace its history back to 1861, was acquired by Matt in April 2000 from his father.

The business has specialist dry cleaning retail shops in Bournemouth, Ferndown, Poole and Sherborne.

It is also the only company left in the world providing a laundry and re-starching service for detachable collars and dress fronted shirts.

Barker is a global leader in the supply of starched dress wear to the legal profession and the film, TV and theatre industries.

Its work has been seen in some of TV’s biggest period shows including Downtown Abbey, Mr Selfridge and Poirot among many others.

Outside business Matt, who was born and educated in Bournemouth, founded MYTime Young Carers in 2010.

The Dorset-based charity provides breaks for young carers, age five to 18, at the charity’s outdoor activity centre at Worth Matravers.

  • Existing customers interested in using Barker Room Service are urged to visit or telephone 01202 291295.