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It had to happen at some point. Having opened his much-anticipated Chiltern Firehouse in London, Andre Balazs seemed intent on keeping its website a blank landing page with a telephone number and email address; whether you wanted to have dinner or spend the night, calling or emailing and hoping to get a response was your only option, unless you had insider access. Even when we finally saw one of the suites, we had all of one photo that we could share from inside the Marylebone firehouse.
Not anymore. We’re not sure exactly when this happened, but there are now plenty of photos on the website, along with – wait for it – the ability to book a room. Yourself. Online. How novel! We suppose the desire/need to fill those rooms night after night, summer or winter, won out in the end.
Above a photo of the Loft Suite that we saw back in October last year, which we described as “Chateau Marmont, with a touch of vintage and a lived-in feel”. You can see the blue/grey banquets running along the wall and just a corner of the rust-colored, chintz-covered, fringe-bottomed armchairs we referred to.
We may be in ecstasy over the arrival of a Standard London, but the neighbors are not so keen. The Camden New Journal reports that the hotel will be a “blot” on the landscape, according to a rather well known local resident.
Lord Fink, fomer Tory party treasurer, who lives in the glorious conversion of St Pancras, is objecting to the rooftop extension to the
communist-style Brutalist former council offices. It was already ugly, he reckons, and locals were silently hoping it might be demolished; but the plans for the Standard have shocked him:
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Six pictures of six London hotels. Which one is the odd one out? Your time starts…. now.
The hotel game is one of patience, confirmed once again for us this week: four years after we first snapped pictures of a dilapidated Marylebone fire station in London, two years after we uncovered a rendering or two, and six months after Andre Balazs finally opened Chiltern Firehouse, we actually made it over the threshold of one of its suites.
The vibe? Think Chateau Marmont, with a touch of vintage and a lived-in feel. Suite number 26 (incidentally the total number of suites in the house) faced Chiltern Street itself and was described to us as one of the larger options. Frustratingly, the only photo we were allowed to take away is the official one above (of a different suite). While each suite differs in size and layout due to the listed building (hallway doors are fire station red and have the original handles, lights are controlled by original black dial switches), furniture and style is consistent throughout.
Number 26 had two banquets with the blue/grey fabric you see in the photo running along the wall, a table with a few chairs and two rust-colored, chintz-covered, fringe-bottomed armchairs. The bed, around the corner in an open-plan L-shape, was dressed in white sheets and had the same wooden headboard as above. Thick carpet, dark blue and with a paisley-like motif, added to the vintage feel. The hallway had a small walk-in closet, a separate powder room, and a bathroom with separate shower and freestanding tub. The shower, big enough to do cartwheels in, had rather interesting pale blue / sea green tiling.
With news having come down the wire that Andre Balazs will grace London with its own Standard Hotel, we had to head over to the city’s King’s Cross area to have a look ourselves. Smack in the middle of one of the city’s largest construction and regeneration projects, the former Camden Town Hall Annexe site (above) doesn’t bring a lot of aesthetic desirability to the table in its current form.
EstateGazette previously referred to “refurbishment” and “additional floors” being proposed, which could mean the existing structure will be used as a base. The additional floors are likely to upset some people, with debate about height restrictions for the building and in the area going back as far as two years. Nothing on or around the building indicates its future as a Standard Hotel at this point, aside from notices that the Camden council is moving. Initial information indicates it will take at least two years to redevelop the building.
The Chiltern Firehouse in London has no real rooms open but it's restaurant has already been declared a success. (If you can count Lindsay Lohan dropping by every night a success). So it's not surprising that working off of the Chiltern's good vibes, hotelier Andre Balazs is now planning a Standard Hotel for Londontown.
EsatesGazette.co.uk has the full scoop:
André Balazs Properties is partnering with Crosstree Real Estate Partners to convert the 150,000 sq ft Camden town hall annexe, WC1, and open the first Standard Hotel outside the US.
Balazs has entered an exclusivity agreement with Crosstree to open a circa 250-bedroom hotel – its sixth Standard – on the site of the former council offices.
Now this is exciting. Because it might mean that we could actually stay in the Standard whereas the Chiltern operates a bit like Balazs' ultra-exclusive Mercer Hotel in Soho, NYC. And because it's a Standard, we can also expect a cool F&B and possibly a rooftop bar. We're also loving the convenient location across from King's Cross St Pancras Station.
We just hope the security team gets a stern talking too about releasing elevator footage of celebrities.
[Photo: Camden New Journal]
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."