Hotel review: checking in to 1 Hotel Mayfair

Editor Hamish Kilburn checks in to explore the organic design narrative inside 1 Hotel Mayfair, a VIP arrival that marks 1 Hotels’ debut property in the UK…

Dover Yard inside 1 Hotel Mayfair hotel in London

While London’s grand dame hotels battle it out to refresh their identities on the congested luxury hospitality map, a new brand has arrived in the capital to somewhat disrupt the conventional flow. Cue the opening of 1 Hotel Mayfair, a hotel that shelters a multi-layered, sensory enriching hospitality experience that transports guests away from the polluted noise of the capital and into a cosy sanctuary, surrounded by earthy materials and deep design narratives.

“We are delighted to bring nature and our mission of sustainable luxury to Mayfair, the very heart of London, one of the most important travel markets in the world,” said Barry Sternlicht, 1 Hotels Founder and Chairman of SH Hotels & Resorts, who describes the brand as a “unique fusion of fresh comfort, conscious sustainability, exceptional bespoke service, understated elegance, wellness and nutrition.”

stone, wood and plants in minimalistic setting of 1Hotel Mayfair reception

Image credit: Jon Day

The concept of the hotel was born from Sternlicht’s vision, began in 2015, for SH Hotels & Resorts ushered the lifestyle hospitality sector into a new chapter – one that fostered the best of sustainable design and architecture, together with non-fussy comfort.

With a confident yet soft approach to interior design being almost iconic in the brand’s DNA, the overall look and feel of 1 Hotel Mayfair was entrusted to London-based design studio G.A. Group, which worked closely with the operator’s in-house team. Studio Moren, meanwhile, was appointed the hotel fit-out architects throughout the project.

Dover Yard inside 1 Hotel Mayfair

Image credit: Jon Day

First impressions

The arrival experience is like nothing else I’ve seen on the London or European hotel scene – the lobby / lounge is more of a state of mind than an aesthetic. First impressions of the space are made under a four-metre-wide ‘living’ chandelier – I was told that it will need to be maintained, trimmed and watered by the team – and guests are greeted to the sound of running water – we’re not in London anymore, Toto!

1 Hotel Mayfair - Lobby, Living Chandelier

Image credit: Jon Day

Clever boundaries have been formed using UK-sourced stone, and the whole space feels effortlessly organic. The check-in desk, for example, is a 200-year-old tree trunk. “We trawled around East Sussex to find the perfect fallen tree,” said Jessica Morison, Associate at G.A. Group. “When we found this beauty in Balcombe Estate, it was like our dreams had come true.” Behind the desk is a wall made from York stone, which required great skill to place each one perfectly. And all around these moments of great, British craftsmanship is a contemporary setting met with soft, low-level furniture and tactile surfaces that work in perfect harmony.

A conscious architectural and design narrative

Throughout the hotel, in fact, whether that be the living wall that wraps around the nine-storey building itself or the oversized cork chandeliers in the bar, there are unexpected fusions of sustainability and luxury. Built to BREEAM Excellent standards, the building itself called for nurturing, not destruction. The architects were able to preserve 80 per cent of the existing structure, and more than 200 local and regional plant species are alive throughout the property. At every turn, you encounter works exclusively commissioned from nature-influenced local artists that are designed to provoke a deep connection to the venerable landscape of Britain – it is art and design all wrapped into one.

1 Hotel Mayfair - Exterior of green wall

Image credit: Milo Brown

Don’t be fooled by the architect’s mission to protect. 1 Hotel Mayfair is vey much an architectural story as well as an interior design one. Part of the aim, and solution, to ensure the property was suitable to house a modern lifestyle hotel was to shelter 35 suites – the signature accommodation styles, complete with floor-to-ceiling windows offering unparalleled views over London – over two new floors.

The double-height Green Park Penthouse Suite, therefore, features a sprawling footprint of 274 square metres, which makes it the largest one-bedroom suite in Mayfair. Meanwhile, The Green Park Penthouse can be further expanded to two bedrooms at 304 square metres and three bedrooms at 340 square metres. It features a wrap-around terrace and retractable sliding doors that open fully to sweeping and dramatic park views.

A skyline suite inside 1 Hotel Mayfair, overlooking the Ritz London

Image credit: SH Hotels & Resorts

All 181 rooms, including 44 suites, have been designed to evoke relaxation. I can’t help but notice a lack of right angles in furniture and the lounge area, in particular, feels more like a nest than a suite. Each one features a living moss wall, an innovative filtered water refill area, timber flooring crafted from fallen British Oak trees and Welsh slate in the bathroom vanities, as well as stylish and high-end showers, taps and flushplates from Gessi, while in the public areas it is refreshing to see Geberit products.

F&B experience

While G.A. Group attended to the overall look and feel of the public areas and guestrooms – including the stylish bar with what is the most beautiful and detailed bar worktop in London (perhaps even beyond) – the design of Dovetail, helmed by Tom Sellers, feels like it could stand alone. Although it features subtle differences compared to the rest of the hotel – you can tell this area has been influenced by a different design studio (Dion + Arles and the SH Hotels & Resorts internal design team) – the space, in it’s own way and with help from the personable team, answers to the rest of the hotel effortlessly.

Dovetale restaurant inside 1 Hotel Mayfair

Image credit: Jon Day

Checking out of 1 Hotel Mayfair, I reminded myself that this is a new arrival. Just a few days after hitting the milestone of opening, the building was buzzing with life – it already feels familiar in the area, which is a compliment to its unpretentious style mixed with confidence to create something different in a destination that is congested with iconic hospitality establishments.

1 Hotel Mayfair - Courtyard King room

Image credit: Milo Brown

What strikes me most about this chapter of hotel development is the respect and strive for meaningful collaboration, which filters throughout the neighbourhood. With other hotels in and around Mayfair also laying down ambitious renovation or development plans, it seems like this cluster of hotels – of which 1 Hotel Mayfair is unquestionably a major player – is consciously committed to scaling up the hospitality arena in the capital, with design’s role crucial to achieving a more textured hotel offering.

Also, the fact that I returned back to 1 Hotel Mayfair a few days after my stay to write up my copy says a lot, I feel, about the atmosphere the design team have created in this almost poetic design narrative. The jury is out, however, on whether it is possible yet to overstay ones welcome in what is London’s finest home-from-home to emerge in quite some time.

Main image credit: SH Hotels & Resorts