The annual London Festival of Architecture fills the month of June with a packed month long program of exhibitions, installations, and talks that focus on this year’s theme, Work in Progress. Museums, architects, designers, and more will join forces to explore how work spaces—and the nature of work itself—are shifting in today’s cityscapes. Have you already chosen where you will stay? Hotel interior design presents the best design hotels in London.
Open since June 2014 and set in the heart of bustling Soho, Ham Yard Hotel is Firmdale’s most ambitious project to date. The hotel revolves around a unique tree-filled pedestrian thoroughfare with a Tony Cragg sculpture, 13 individual specialist stores, and an airy restaurant and bar with outdoor dining and drinking. As well as a sumptuous drawing room, library and orangery, the hotel has a spa, a 190-seat theater, and an original 1950s bowling alley imported from Texas. To top it off there is a leafy rooftop garden with sweeping views across the London skyline. Ham Yard is not just a hotel but a destination.
If you ever needed reassurance that the spirit of adventure is alive and well, even in the center of London, Blakes is it. Designed by former Bond girl Anouska Hempel, now known globally for her striking interior designs, this refurbished multimillion-pound South Kensington couture hotel is a world of grandeur and exoticism. Behind the black Victorian façade, you’ll find a tantalizing fusion of eastern and western styles. Polished mirrors bounce rich walnut tones around the lobby, creating a sense of decadence and theater, while the critically acclaimed subterranean restaurant attracts some of the world’s most famous movie stars, actors and designers.
The scent of fresh baked goods lures those seeking Shoreditch’s legendary art and dining into the Boundary Hotel’s Albion bakery. Lovers of art, admirers of design: Sir Boundary welcomes you. The hotel is a celebration of fine art and fine taste for the sophisticated traveler. Its 12 elegant, contemporary guestrooms are each inspired by a legendary designer or design movement, from Young British to Bauhaus, Eileen Gray to Le Corbusier. Above, five suites, including four duplexes, range from Modern Dickensian to Modern Chinoiserie, featuring private outdoor balconies and impressive urban views. Boundary’s restaurant, a mainstay in Shoreditch’s burgeoning gallery scene, pays homage to the timeless recipes and traditions of England and France.
Charlotte Street Hotel’s fresh, welcoming interiors cultivate the charm of its surrounding neighborhood. Located just north of lively, hedonistic Soho, the quiet streets around the hotel exude unpretentious sophistication. A sensual Botero sculpture welcomes visitors, luring guests into Kit Kemp’s world of modern English style that combines original artwork, bespoke furnishings, and bold-patterned fabrics. The Oscar Restaurant and Bar spills outdoors onto the street during summer months, attracting local media professionals to relax and unwind over British cuisine and cocktails. Business travelers’ professional needs are satisfied in a state-of-the-art private screening room, fully equipped with the latest modern conveniences. Such compelling contrasts between postmodern practicality and old-fashioned allure are embodied by the Alexander Hollweg tableau commissioned for the bar and restaurant, which updates Roger Fry’s 1916 fresco ‘Scenes of Contemporary London Life’ with a treasure trove of scenes from today.
Covent Garden Hotel holds its own among the stars of London’s acclaimed theater district. Guests pass through grand curtains festooned with English roses before entering a world of aged wood, dignified architecture, and head-turning interiors by designer Kit Kemp. Her signature mix of luscious upholstery patterns, demi-canopies, decorative headboards, flowing drapes, and matching wallpaper envelops visitors in British charm. Guests in search of an intimate retreat can withdraw offstage into Tiffany’s Library, with its radiant fireplace and honor bar. The gym, beauty spa, two private dining rooms, and private screening room provide state-of-the-art amenities, while the pewter-paned mirror, cozy banquettes, and tucked-away corners of Brasserie Max gain widespread applause as a pre- or post-theater retreat.
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Husband and wife team Kit and Tim Kemp recently reacquired their very first property, the Dorset Square Hotel which they originally bought in the eighties. Located in London‘s Marylebone, an exciting residential area within easy reach of the city’s theater and financial districts, the hotel is surrounded by shops, restaurants and world-class galleries. The couple has always had an affinity for this property, which led to the birth of Firmdale Hotels. After an extensive refurbishment, the English country style has been replaced by Kit Kemp’s signature stamp: bold colors, contrasting fabrics, and one-off art pieces and furnishings. The interiors are intriguing and engaging, from the plush guest drawing room with an open fireplace, to the lively bar, and brasserie that features specially commissioned wallpapers and hand-woven carpets.
Historical on the outside, yet timeless on the inside, Eccleston Square Hotel is an elegant fusion of old and new. Located on an award-winning, pristine garden square bordering Belgravia and Victoria in London, this ‘urban cocoon’ offers cutting-edge technology in every room. Guests may request any of the hotel services they require, from in-room dining to booking a table at some of London’s hottest clubs, via the iPad2. Good sleep and well-being are central to the design concept devised by Olivia Byrne, whose ethos is for guests leave the hotel feeling better than they did when they arrived.
A vibrant world of bold color lies beyond the understated Georgian entrance of the Haymarket Hotel. Located directly next door to the Haymarket Theatre, Kit Kemp’s redesign of John Nash’s Regent-era structure asserts a theatrical vision rooted in her signature ‘modern English’ design. Art lovers will appreciate the verve with which the airy sepia-gray lobby, filled with marigold and oak furniture, showcases a large stainless steel Tony Cragg sculpture and paintings by British treasure John Virtue. Take the elevator from here to reach a sublime swimming pool in the hotel’s basement, all sixty feet of which are hypnotically illuminated by a light installation by the artist Martin Richmann.
Within walking distance of Harrods and Harvey Nichols, the Knightsbridge Hotel is a chic addition to the luxury hotels owned and designed by Kit Kemp. In the suites and rooms, enveloped by bold fabrics, guests can gaze through floor-to-ceiling windows onto one of London’s most charming areas, while the upper floors reveal tantalizing glimpses of Harrods’ rooftops. Significant British artists adorn the drawing room, library and lobby with original works. Setting this location apart from her other hotels are the African sculptures and fabrics, mixed with tasseled curtains and the neon blue ladder in the library, which add adventuresome touches to the stately interior.
Conveniently situated where the City gives way to the East End, South Place Hotel provides a base for visitors to explore, connect, or rejuvenate in the heart of modern London. Reflecting both the business needs and imaginative wit of its adjacent neighborhoods, South Place has been designed by Allies and Morrison architects with interiors by Conran + Partners. Owned and managed by D&D London, which operates high-class restaurants around the globe, South Place brings a restaurateur’s perspective to the world of hotels. The public spaces are a vibrant mix of vintage and contemporary design and art, while the bedrooms emit an understated luxury. In each of the 80 bedrooms, guests will find individually chosen art pieces by contemporary London artists that form part of the hotel’s extensive art collection. The focus on food and entertainment is evident throughout the hotel, creating an environment that is ‘more meet than sleep’.
South Kensington, known as the French Quarter of London, is home to the elegant Pelham Hotel. Here an English country-house style meets smart city living. Entering the lobby will feel as though you have just walked into your own private London residence, wrapped in style, elegance, and design. In the drawing room, complete with a luxuriously stocked honesty bar, and in the library, guests can unwind in front of period fireplaces that crackle well into the night. With three event rooms, including a private dining room, it’s a great place to party, meet, or dine for up to 35 guests. Bar and Bistro Fifteen, with direct street access, is where well-heeled locals mix with in-house guests: from the elite Chelsea crowds to the French consulate and Italian designers. It’s the ultimate relaxed bistro, where the French European food speaks for itself.
Guests can mingle in the hotel’s handsomely vibrant drawing rooms, while some guestrooms have private courtyards overlooking the hotel’s stunning English garden. One drawing room is romantically adorned with rose prints and oil paintings, while the lobby greets guests with a more austere ambience. The attentive service, however, might have guests wondering whether this isn’t a gracious private home after all. Number Sixteen’s sense of subdued, relaxed modernity is brought to its apex in the conservatory and exquisite private garden, whose reflecting pond, fountain and lush foliage offer precious seclusion amidst the city bustle. Number Sixteen is situated in the heart of South Kensington, just steps away from the Victoria & Albert and Natural History Museums and a short walk to Harrods, Knightsbridge and Brompton Cross shopping. Kensington Gardens is close by and the area is filled with some of London’s most interesting bars, cafes and restaurants.
In this shrine to eclecticism, guests luxuriate in unusually large rooms with floor-to-ceiling warehouse-style windows. Lovingly designed and furnished by Kit Kemp, the 91 rooms boast exciting creative tension between their design components. Kemp’s contemporary British style is firmly founded on top-notch furnishings and materials deployed in an artful combination and a plethora of styles, colors, and patterns. It’s hard to miss the impressive 10-foot-tall Botero sculpture in the lobby, or the mural, which adorns the hotel’s Refuel Bar & Restaurant. A feast for the eyes, indeed.
Located in the edgy neighborhood of Bethnal Green, Town Hall Hotel mixes architectural styles like the multicultural residents walking outside. Imagine stately sweeping staircases, marble flooring, high ceilings, generously proportioned apartment-style rooms and a decadent brass, marble-clad swimming pool and you start to get the picture. Town Hall Hotel is one of the most unusual properties you might ever have the pleasure of staying at. Right from its handsome Edwardian façade, bling chandeliers to contemporary art waiting at corners to surprise and engage you. The cherry on top is definitely the size of the rooms – large, styled in a sparse, contemporary style, which is in this case works rather well to give off a home-away-from-home respite. There’s no shortage of culture in this part of town with a litter of galleries, hip weekend markets and fine restaurants, two of which, the Typing Room and Corner Room reside in the hotel.