The hotel opened its doors back in 1876 and the £7.5million refurbishment brings to life its Victorian heritage, highlights the personality of its founder Sir James Bailey MP, and reflects the character of its central Kensington location.
The refurbishment programme has seen a total redesign of all guest rooms with new fittings and fixtures. Public spaces, including the reception and check in desk, restaurant and bar all boast a new look. The new aesthetic was inspired primarily by digging into the archives of the hotel; in letters to the hotel soon after launch the first wave of transatlantic travellers in the late 1800s praised the hotel for its ‘charm’.
With this in mind, design consultants ADS Design, working closely with the hotel’s senior management team, developed the townhouse concept to create an eclectic, yet wholly relevant design philosophy. There was also an emphasis on working with UK based suppliers to reinforce the quintessentially English architecture and original fittings.
From this came four design motifs that differentiate each floor; informally named Kensington, Kew, Henley and City Gent, they influence the colour palette, patterns, artwork and decorative details. While there are distinct differences floor by floor the townhouse approach means some elements are consistent throughout; namely the high and buttoned headboard, and the joinery and carpets remain constant in design and colour ways.
Bathrooms are completely refurbished, with many hosting large ‘walk in’ showers. While the design is modern it harks back to the origins of the building with Victorian details, motifs and fittings from luxury Mayfair manufacturer of taps, showers and bathroom, Perrin & Rowe.
The public spaces also have a completely new look. A traditional style parquet floor has been laid, adorned with hand-tufted rugs. The colour way is grey tones with rich dark blue as an accent colour, and the wallpapers have rich tones. The front of the reception is leather clad with a button back effect, just like the headboards within the bedrooms.
There are also humorous reminders of the hotel’s founder, Sir James Bailey MP, throughout the hotel. He appears in some way in every room, either a reproduction of a very characterful photograph which shows him with dress coat, waistcoat, Double Albert watch chain and with an impeccably groomed moustache and beard, or in a new image created of his silhouette reflecting the line of his features, monocle and impressive facial hair.