Intercontinental's Next London Hotel: Way Better Than We Thought
When it was announced this weekend that Intercontinental were opening up a second hotel in London, we weren’t too excited.
For one, we’re not the biggest fans of the Park Lane branch - totally lacking in fizz, if you ask us. For another, the location they’ve chosen - Queen Anne’s Chambers in Westminster is a place we used to pass most days on our way to work, and it always seemed like more of a commuter ratrun than somewhere you’d actually want to stay. Also, it’s next door to police HQ New Scotland Yard, and that made us feel a bit queasy too.
But to give it a fair hearing, we popped over to see the building site today – and we take it all back. Intercontinental Westminster has the potential to be a fabulous hotel.
For a start, it’s not as small as it looks from the façade in the picture here. Because that’s just the front façade. The hotel’s actually going to take up four buildings, across three streets. Yup, three: Broadway, where the entrance will be, along a block of Tothill Street and down Dean Farrar Street round the back. Think of it as a triangle shape, with all the space in the middle belonging to the hotel as well. It sounds fantastic.
The buildings are pretty historic, too – 19th century, ex government buildings (Tothill Street is one of the main back streets running down from the Houses of Parliament). And they’ve even seen some drama – the Dean Farrar Street side hit the news in 2007 when the top two floors collapsed one day, narrowly avoiding the slimy politician who’d set up a campaign office there. See? There’s already more fizz to this place than Hyde Park Corner.
The location is quiet but extremely central – right opposite St James’s Park Tube, five minutes walk from Victoria, two minutes from Westminster Abbey, and down the road from Parliament, Trafalgar Square and the Thames.
The 120,000 square foot hotel will have 254 rooms over six storeys, and Intercontinental say it’ll open in late 2011. The builders told us that the contract is for 98-100 weeks, and will start in a couple of weeks, when the demolition work finishes, so that seems to tally. Although in our experience, London builders seem to take schedules as flippantly as hotels do. Here’s hoping this one bucks the trend. And emerges with a bit more verve than the other one.