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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.)
We've loved the Crosby Street Hotel pretty much since it first opened back in 2010 so when we heard that London-based Firmdale Hotels was working on a second hotel for New York City, we got crazy excited.
Detes are scant but we do know that the hotel is already under construction at 20 West 56th Street, just off Fifth Avenue and just a few blocks from Central Park, not to mention Bergdorf Goodman, FAO Schwartz and The Plaza.
The Real Deal reported on hoteliers Kit and Tim Kemp's lease signing for the property back in February yet we're still waiting on more details about the rooms (how many?), the amenities (will there be an uptown screening room and film club?) and most importantly, the opening date (late 2014?)
However big or small the hotel will be, no doubt Kit Kemp will use her signature accents of "bold colours and textures" to do up the guest rooms. Embrace tasteful floral patterns, Midtown! The hotel, like all other Firmdale hotels, will also have its own logo. For example, Crosby Street features a girl in purple boots walking her dog. With Central Park so close by, the new hotel should have no problem drawing from it for inspiration. Perhaps something to do with The Pond?
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Will this be the Hudson London?
If you thought London would be taking a break when it comes to hotel openings after a rather frenetic Olympic year, think again: the next few years look to be filled with all sorts of exciting stuff to keep us happy. We’re listing the hotels we have our eyes on for you below, and stay tuned as we will be taking you inside when we can.
- A rebirth rather than a brand new hotel, the former St. John Hotel became One Leicester Street on May 1, including a refurbished restaurant and outdoor terrace
- Over in King’s Cross, the Great Northern Hotel also got a new a lease on life as part of the revitalization of the entire station, with sleeper compartment-inspired rooms called Couchettes
- South Kensington got a new boutique hotel contender this month in the form of the 99-room Xenia Hotel on Cromwell Road, not far from the Ampersand we showed you last year
- Affordable-chic brand base2stay is re-branding itself as Nadler Hotels, and its flagship The Nadler Soho will open on June 1, a stone’s throw from the likes of Dean Street Townhouse and Firmdale’s the Soho Hotel
- This isn't really a new hotel but it is newsworthy--The Waldorf-Astoria Syon Park has now been downgraded to just the Hilton London Syon Park. A Hilton Worldwide spokesperson told Business Insider that, "Having operated the property since March 2011, we've mutually agreed with our owner that the new positioning will be the best fit for the local market."
Last week, we promised you a closer look at Dorset Square, the newest of Firmdale Hotels. How would the return of Tim and Kit Kemp to this property after a decade of absence (they previously owned the hotel) stack up against the group's perennially popular Covent Garden and Soho Hotels?
Like we said, we're pretty confident that fans of Kit Kemp's style will feel at home here. If you prefer your hotel to be a stark vision of white-on-white and concrete floors, or need facilities like a spa or fitness centre, go elsewhere, but for a modern British townhouse with a twist, Dorset Square might be just the address.
Set on the leafy square from which it takes its name, the hotel is close to Marylebone High Street, just north of Oxford Street and the famous West End. Being the site of Thomas Lord's first cricket ground, cricket is a theme you will see throughout the hotel, including the logo of two cricket bats and a ball.
With only 38 rooms spread over the floors of a Regency-era townhouse, Dorset Square is very much that: a townhouse hotel, which you'll experience from the airy ground floor drawing room to the twisting hallways and individual rooms upstairs.
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Well, lookie here. Another new hotel opening in London just in time for the Summer Olympics.
The hotel itself has actually been around for a while but it recently got a renovation from fairy godmother (and Firmdale's owner) Kit Kemp. Kemp has integrated her signature accents of "bold colours and textures" as well as pretty-looking fabric patterns (she makes floral look not just acceptable but desirable) and original art.
Mad Men is indeed coming back on March 25 for a two-hour season premier (are you excited yet?), but if that's just a little too long to wait, here's a bit of Jon Hamm hotel gossip to fill the void.
Metro newspaper was sitting down for an intimate interview with the star on Valentine's Day at the Soho Hotel in London. And something about the hotel's snug vibe must have had everyone feeling pretty relaxed, because the next thing they knew, Hamm had been convinced to record a seductive voicemail greeting—in Hungarian. The editor (who is male, we should point out) explains:
"[Sundance Channel] arranged the interview. It took place in a room at London’s stunning Soho Hotel. Hamm sat on a plush couch, near the bottom of the bed, and answered my questions thoughtfully. It was every woman’s dream."
Click below to hear the greeting!
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If tech-savvy types are correct in their assessment that "[t]he future of mobile is the future of everything"—and what a bold statement to make—then Firmdale Hotels' business future is looking up. Jumping on the very full and happy mobile technology bandwagon, the hotel chain has just released its own iPhone Application, downloadable by clicking here.
We last strolled by the construction site in December and today, things don't look that much different. Our trusty London spy sent us these recent snapshots of the hotel, which is about a block away from Piccadilly Circus and which will have 90 rooms, a restaurant, bar, bowling alley and cinema.
The hotel doesn't seem to have risen out of the ground yet but the reassuring news is that there is more machinery and equipment on site. Perhaps Firmdale was just waiting out the winter?
We still don't know when this hotel will open or what it will be called but we think a Summer 2012 opening, in time for the Olympics, might not be so, um, firm.
Got any other scoop on when this hotel will open? Let us know!