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A month ago we thought it looked like it was nearly complete, and so it was: Andre Balazs’ new London hotel, the Chiltern Firehouse, opened a couple of weeks ago. Nearly three and a half years after we first scoped it out, and many a walk-by in between, we were able to do a quick lap through the courtyard, peek into the buzzing restaurant, and peer through the windows into the yet-to-open bar.
We weren’t quite right with our guess of it being called the Chiltern Street Hotel (and actually prefer the Firehouse addition), but we did hit the nail on the head thinking that entry to the hotel is through the courtyard, in the far corner you see above. Those red benches we spotted were in place too, along with a range of other furniture that we trust will be permanently occupied once spring pushes through and those bare shrubs sport some greenery.
Before you rush over with your bags, know that the 26 suites aren’t quite ready yet. The restaurant, pretty much booked solid at the moment, is open daily for dinner and for brunch on the weekend.
The story that is sending everyone to the office water cooler--it was announced that entrepreneur/hotelier Andre Balazs will NOT be developing a hotel in the world-famous architectural icon that is the TWA Flight Center at JFK. Previous negotiations between the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and Andre Balazs Properties have fallen through, and we have little more information than that. Design-savvy Balazs was to develop a Standard Hotel beneath the lightweight concrete “wings” of the former TWA building, designed over 50 years ago by Finnish American architect Eero Saarinen.
The re-development of the TWA Flight Center was also to incorporate a conference center, retail, and of course, a flying museum. This is an unquestionably daunting task for any developer, especially given that the project involves an international airport. Again, little is being said about the status of this project going forward.
Keep reading to see who we think should operate a hotel inside the historic terminal instead!
At the very least, the exterior of Andre’s fire station-turned-hotel seems to be coming along nicely, and if we’re to believe the talked-about March opening, it better be. All scaffolding is now gone, and we can see how the three fire engine doors have been replaced – in fact, it looks pretty close to the above rendering, which can be found on a website of Chiltern Street itself, of all places.
Way back when we thought that (one of) those fire engine doors would become the hotel’s front entrance, but based on what we saw we guess arriving at the hotel will happen through the courtyard.
We are also going to go out on a limb and say it will be called the Chiltern Street Hotel, since it’s been whispered that this will be an individually-branded hotel and a notice next to one of the doors related to planning permissions named it so.
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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.
Almost to the day three years ago did we scout Marylebone’s Chiltern Street based on the juicy gossip that André Balazs had set his sights on an abandoned fire station as the location for his new London hotel. Three years ago! Where does the time go?
On the long and winding road to today, we stumbled upon some delicious renderings of the interior (which didn’t last long on the contractor’s website), learned that it would possibly be a Mercer Hotel Andre was planning here, saw a multistory extension going up at the back of the courtyard, and wondered out loud what progress was being made over the summer. A 2013 opening was always part of the plan, but in case you hadn’t noticed, Christmas is barely two months away. So will we still get inside this year?
Although our sister site, Jaunted put the kibosh on plans for a hotel at the TWA Flight Center at New York's JFK Airport ever coming to fruition, Page Six is reporting that the André Balazs project now has a name, the Standard Flight Center.
While Balazs is still "looking forward to the approval of his final proposal" by the Port Authority board, Page Six confirms that the agency is only talking with Balazs, quoting director, Pat Foye:
“The Port Authority is committed to preserving the essence of [Saarinen’s] iconic design and to continuing to work with [Balazs Properties] on a plan to transform the historic TWA Flight Center into a one-of-a-kind hotel and conference center in the heart of JFK’s central terminal area."
Andre Balazs may have hit a bump with his planned hotel for the TWA terminal at JFK but he's already got another project lined up--The Riverfront Spa and Beach Club, a new hospitality concept which will debut at the SuperPier complex at West 15th Street in Hudson River Park.
Developer Youngwoo & Associates got final approval from the city this past April to restore and redevelop Pier 57, which was originally constructed in 1957 but has been abandoned since 2003. They are now working on turning the space into a mixed retail spot featuring new and upcoming talent.
Balazs himself gave more details on the spa today to NY Times, saying they are going in the same direction as the Standard Miami spa. The spa and beach club (there will also be a restaurant too) will not be under the Standard brand and sadly, there is no hotel component. But we're quite excited to see Balazs try his hand at doing just a spa.
Aside from Balazs' hotel, SuperPier will also be anchored by a food bazaar; Opening Ceremony the ultra- hip clothing store which will actually feature "Incuboxes”, repurposed shipping containers retrofitted and designed for concept shops; as well as Brooklyn Boulders, a rock-climbing facility.
The SuperPier should open in 2015.
[Rendering: Credit: Pandiscio Co. / QuickHoney ]
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Balazs is currently in talks to transform the old Eero Saarinen-designed TWA terminal at JFK airport into a 150-room hotel. There's just one problem: Saarinen was a giant of the architectural world, and the TWA Terminal was one of his masterworks.
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According to the Facebook group page, Douche Spotter--which made headlines last week for posting pics of people acting, well, douchey in the Hamptons--a bunch of folks ate at the Sunset Beach restaurant over Fourth of July and racked up a $433 bill but left no tip for their server. Douchey indeed.
Of course, we don't know the full story here. Maybe bad service is not the reason for the lack of tip. Perhaps the group left the server a wad of cash? Or perhaps the diners were Europeans as they often get tripped up by the American tipping policy? (Hmm not likely as the bill clearly says "Gratuity Not Included.")
Or maybe the group was just super pissed the hotel had no rooms open. The spot is pretty much sold-out through the end of its season (September 9th.) If you're interesting in seeing if the place is tip-worthy or not for yourself, you will have to go during the week. Rooms start at $425 a night.
Or isn’t it? Nearly five months after we checked in on the old fire station on Marylebone’s Chiltern Street that hotelier Andre Balazs supposedly is turning into a Mercer hotel, our shots from this past weekend and from February would make good material for a game of ‘spot the difference’. And we’d probably fail that game.
Walking up to the hotel, we were disappointed the huge black façade-covering scaffolding was still there; based on the permits displayed earlier this year, we had hoped it would have been taken down by now. Whether that means the work has been delayed or not, we’ll leave open for the moment, but we certainly would have hoped to see some clearer progress if an opening this year is something we’re meant to buy.
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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."
2013 is a year full of hotel openings (we have a handy Master List for you), and it’s marked in our calendar as the possible time Andre Balazs pulls the curtain from his latest venture, the expected Mercer London.
To find out whether this year is likely to happen, we headed over to the fire station on Chiltern Street in Marylebone this past weekend to look at the construction progress, and things are moving on, if still far from being finished.