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With Firmdale’s flagship Ham Yard Hotel a year old, the biggest news we’re waiting for from Tim and Kit Kemp will be anything definitive on their second hotel in New York. In progress on W. 56th Street, we’re hoping to walk by soon to see what we can find, but in the meantime, we’ll settle for updates at a number of London hotels: from new suites to a library and a refreshed garden space.
Given that it’s summer, let’s start outdoors at Number Sixteen, a small townhouse hotel with 41 rooms in South Kensington. Accessed through the Conservatory, the updated garden is an all-day venue for eating and drinking. Private gardens like this are real estate gold in this part of town, so on a warm July day it should be perfect for a lazy breakfast. Everything inside the hotel is in signature Kit Kemp style, but be aware that entry-level single rooms are a teensy 8 sq m (86 sq ft).
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So much hotel news, so little time – here are a few snippets to keep you up to date with the latest news from around the world, from shiny new things in Paris to reservations in Milan and new global partnerships.
Viceroy Hotels joins Global Hotel Alliance: starting at partnerships, in a move we did not expect, Viceroy has signed up to join Global Hotel Alliance (GHA). While Kempinski and Pan Pacific are two brands we usually think of when we hear GHA, the list is a lot longer than that, including brands like Anantara, Per Aquum, Omni Hotels, QT, and more for a total of 31 brands and 550+ hotels. Now if Viceroy would move on with its plans for L’Ermitage Bevery Hills and Viceroy Istanbul, we’d be all sorts of happy.
Pulitzer Amsterdam picks Preferred Hotels: we knew Hotel Pulitzer was leaving Starwood’s Luxury Collection, but our wish for something as exciting as Four Seasons Hotel Pulitzer to happen (after a mega renovation, of course) was not to be. Renovations will happen, but the hotel has joined Preferred Hotels new LVX collection (pronounced “Lux” and yes that irks us too). If you want to know more about Preferred’s new collections, go here.
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If you thought London’s new Ham Yard Hotel was all about the pretty looks, you’d be wrong. Or rather, it’s now there to make you pretty as well as itself, with the opening of the Soholistic Nail Bar in Ham Yard Village, the shop-filled courtyard inside the hotel.
As well as manis and pedis, Soholistic will also sell Kit Kemp’s own bath and body line, Rik Rak, which was created to celebrate the opening of the hotel. From shampoo to body lotion and linen mist to candles, here’s where to stock up for Christmas.
And if you want to shape up as well as stock up, the gym is now open to non-guests, including the hypoxic chamber, which trains you at altitude. Personal training sessions cost £60 for 30 minutes. Alternatively, you could spend that on a Kit Kemp candle and just take it easy over Christmas. That’s what’s lovely about Ham Yard – the choice is yours.
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Six pictures of six London hotels. Which one is the odd one out? Your time starts…. now.
Having shown you around the public spaces at Firmdale Hotels’ new flagship Ham Yard Hotel, we’ll take the elevator up and peek inside a few of the 91 bedrooms and suites, all of which come with very individual, but very Kit Kemp, design.
As you make your way to your room, you’ll notice how the hotel twists and turns to fit in with the existing buildings around it. Hallways share the French wallpaper of flowerless plants that we saw at Dorset Square Hotel a few years ago.
Rooms range from entry-level Superior to Deluxe, with Suites continuing on from Luxury Junior to Terrace Suites. The above shot is from one of a small number of apartments that are also available. All rooms have the lovely floor-to-ceiling warehouse-style windows that led light flood in.
True to its word, Firmdale Hotels opened its new Ham Yard Hotel yesterday, and just 24 hours later we stepped through the front door to get a closer look at the group’s latest London – and overall flagship – hotel.
We’re still digesting everything we saw mere hours ago, from a number of the 91 bedrooms and suites to Ham Yard restaurant, the screening room and the pretty awesome underground bowling alley. We’ll start with a tour of the public spaces, which, like the entire hotel, are filled to the brim with Kit Kemp’s eclectic collection of art, objets, fabrics, patterns, and furniture.
Main access to the hotel is just off of Great Windmill Street, which indeed has a small driveway for cars and taxis to pull up to the front entrance. We love that a bit of green was introduced to this tightly packed area, with the courtyard being surprisingly quiet given that Piccadilly Circus’ neon extravaganza is just a block away.
Firmdale Hotels is so close to being ready to let us into its new flagship Ham Yard Hotel that the British Union Jack has already been raised above the entrance, in the quiet courtyard a block behind much less quiet Piccadilly Circus.
Having just walked by the hotel, things really are looking good for opening on June 1: we spotted some seating already out next to the entrance, as well as a glimpse of the Tony Cragg bronze sculpture that will be just in front (head over to Facebook to see more photos).
When we walked past Ham Yard Hotel last week, we could spot furniture behind the large factory-style windows, signalling Firmdale’s future flagship is making good progress. From the fabric on the chairs to the bold patterned curtains, there was no mistaking Kit Kemp’s style even from a distance, and now we have a whole set of images to back that up.
They come alongside a planned opening on June 1, which means we’re in the homestretch until the time we can check out the 91 bedrooms and suites, eat in the restaurant, drink at the bar, and knock over some pins in that bowling alley. Images show a number of different designs: from bold blue / yellow / white and a rich chocolate brown with gold and cream (above), to vibrant pink and purple and a more subdued grey (below). Reservations have also opened.
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London has had a few big years in hotels, including our best opening for 2013, but the next twelve months should give us plenty to pore over too. Just like the five worldwide openings we lifted out of our Master List of Worldwide Hotel Openings, here are 6 London hotels you should keep an eye out for this year.
Firmdale's Ham Yard Hotel : we’ve been taking pictures for a long time of the construction site, but this year should really be the year when Firmdale adds a new flagship to its quirky collection of individually Kit Kemp-styled hotels. Located just off of Piccadilly Circus with 90 rooms and suites and a whole range of amenities (bowling alley anyone?), the hotel will complete a piece of the puzzle in this revamped area between Regent Street and Soho. Recruitment has started, and based on the website, we think it will actually be called the Ham Yard Hotel when it opens in May.
We may have had to scrap it from our list of 2013 openings (it’ll be mid next year probably), but at least Firmdale Hotels’ future flagship in London is making some good progress. Construction has been going on for nearly three years now, and we can just about start to make out how the hotel is coming together.
Like a missing piece of the city’s puzzle, the building twists and turns on an irregularly-shaped plot right behind Piccadilly Circus that was vacant for four decades. Looking at the site from Great Windmill Street, we suspect there will be a (partial) pedestrian zone (above) cutting through to Sherwood Street, very nearly joining the one between Café Royal and Whole Foods.
We've not said much about the new hotel currently underway at 414 West 15th Street, across the street from the Chelsea Market, because the project itself has been fairly hush-hush -- and seems to be taking a while to get moving.
Architecture and design firm Stonehill & Taylor, at their website, are calling it only the Greenwich Village Hotel and state that the project was "created in partnership with one of the world’s most renowned hotel operators, (and) the details of the project are confidential". Oooh.
Even so, it's been a while since anyone has mentioned the project, so we went down to the West Village to take a peek. What we found (basically a big hole in the ground) didn't look too encouraging for a hotel that's been in development for a couple of years.
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Kemp states that the new 90-room property will be "all-new build similar in style to Crosby Street Hotel, with the large, warehouse-style windows rising to 15 stories". Some suites will have private terraces and facilities will include another screening room (there's already one at Crosby Street.)