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Historic Manchester fire station to be reimagined as boutique hotel

Historic Manchester fire station to be reimagined as boutique hotel

850 524 Daniel Fountain

Manchester’s historic London Road Fire Station has sat largely vacant in recent years, but after a collaboration between an award-winning property development firm and an architectural firm, that might be changing soon.

Allied London and Levitt Bernstein have submitted a design proposal that stands as a full-scale reimagining of the unique and storied property. This plan, if put into action, seeks to reinvigorate more than the just the fire station — it seeks to overhaul and vitalise the surrounding neighbourhood as well.

Allied London has owned the building, which is a Grade II* listed Edwardian Baroque-style structure, since 2015. At the time of purchase, the property had fallen into wide-spread disrepair. Levitt Bernstein’s submission, however, is aimed at refurbishing and expanding the property to include a boutique hotel, bars, restaurants, communal workspaces and private residence apartments.

For those concerned about the history of the classic building, there is cause to celebrate, as the submitted plan goes to careful lengths to preserve the building fabric wherever possible. It seeks to accomplish this while still having the new hotel wing of the structure seated in front of the existing London Road courtyard elevation.

The original façade of the building will become a side of a corridor that will connect the new hotel wing. The designers at Levitt have conceived of the structure’s new extension as a metal tableau, able to simultaneously reference the heritage of the site while creating a harmonious composition that is housed within the confines of the courtyard.

Another key component of this design is the Fairfield Street wing. In this section of the property, the old firemen’s flats where the men once lived will be adapted to something more modern: a series of communal workspaces and private residency apartments. These properties will also response to the building’s overarching layout, striving to maintain many of the interior details that were inherent to the original.

At the core of this reimagined building, however, are the modern trimmings that mark world-class global hospitality properties. There will be a spa, several themed bars, and restaurants for all manner of dining.

In the central courtyard, this design features a new pavilion, where visitors can access other bars as well as an event space, which has a proposed glass prism installation that creates a grand sweeping staircase that descends upon a subterranean area. This section will be festooned with semi-reflective glass, which means that during the day it will reflect the architecture surrounding it, blending it into the background. At night, however, it will be illuminated within, creating a truly stunning effect.

Currently in the planning stage, the London Road Fire Station will begin the renovation and construction process in late 2017.

Raffles to open hotel in London’s Old War Office

Raffles to open hotel in London’s Old War Office

700 394 Daniel Fountain

The Hinduja group has signed a deal with Europe’s largest hotel chain – Accor Hotels Group – to turn the UK’s iconic Old War Office building, once the office of Britain’s war-time prime minister Winston Churchill, into a luxury hotel.

Raffles Hotels and Resorts, the luxury brand that is part of France’s Accor Hotels Group, has announced the signing of an agreement with the Hinduja Group and Spanish firm Obrascon Huarte Lain Desarrollos (OHLD) to transform the building in Whitehall into the most unique hotel and deluxe residences in London.

“The Raffles Hotel in London will be the heart and soul of this exciting landmark destination”, a statement said. “Raffles Hotels and Resorts is delighted to complete its already stunning portfolio with such an exclusive asset in such strategic city and location, the group said in the statement.”

Steeped in history, the first Raffles Hotel was opened in 1887 in Singapore, named after the British statesman and founder of Singapore, Thomas Stamford Raffles.

The Old War Office, with its 1,100 rooms across seven-floors, and two miles of corridors, was completed in 1906.

It was the office to many of the UK’s most important and influential political and military leaders of the twentieth century, notably Churchill, David Lloyd George, Lord Kitchener, Herbert Asquith and T E Lawrence. It was also the offices of the British Secret Service.

Close to 10 Downing Street, the Houses of Parliament and Westminster Abbey, the Old War Office was bought by Hinduja Group and OHLD in December 2014 following a public bid.

The Ascott Limited (Ascott) has expanded its global footprint to Ireland, one of the fastest growing economies in Europe...

Ascott makes foray into Ireland with acquisition of Dublin property

1000 644 Daniel Fountain

CapitaLand’s wholly owned serviced residence business unit, The Ascott Limited (Ascott), has expanded its global footprint to Ireland, one of the fastest growing economies in Europe.

It has acquired an operating hotel in Ireland’s capital city Dublin, the 136-unit Temple Bar Hotel, for €55.1 million (£46 million). Located within Temple Bar, the vibrant cultural heart of Dublin’s city centre, the property is close to museums, boutiques, restaurants, cafés, galleries and attractions such as the famous Dublin Castle, Guinness Storehouse and Jameson Distillery.

The Ascott Limited (Ascott) has expanded its global footprint to Ireland, one of the fastest growing economies in Europe...

Mr Lee Chee Koon, Ascott’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “Europe is a key market for Ascott’s global expansion. Ireland’s pro-business environment has attracted some of the world’s biggest companies such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft and LinkedIn to establish their European headquarters in Dublin. Ireland is also used as a launch pad to the European Union (EU) by many US companies and US is amongst Ascott’s top source markets globally. Ascott’s entry into Ireland will cater to this rising demand for accommodation by corporate and leisure travellers. The acquisition will boost Ascott’s €1.2 billion (£1 billion) portfolio in Europe and bring us closer to our target of 10,000 units in the region by 2020.”

Ireland is rated by The World Bank’s ‘Doing Business’ Report as amongst the easiest places in the EU to start a business. Post Brexit, Dublin has stepped up efforts to woo multinational companies to site their EU-based operations in Ireland.

The Dublin property sits on Fleet Street, minutes away from Dame Street, a main thoroughfare in the Irish capital where many financial institutions such as the Central Bank of Ireland, Allied Irish Bank and Ulster Bank are situated. It is also within walking distance to the International Financial Services Centre that houses more than 500 companies including global financial institutions, law firms, audit firms and taxation advisors. Its central location offers guests convenient access to Grafton Street and Henry Street, the two main shopping streets in Dublin. In addition, major event facilities such as the Convention Centre Dublin, the 3Arena and Aviva Stadium are nearby.

The Ascott Limited (Ascott) has expanded its global footprint to Ireland, one of the fastest growing economies in Europe...

The property also benefits from key transport services that are within easy reach from its door step – the Dublin Area Rapid Transit and LUAS (Dublin’s light rail tram system) lines as well as extensive bus network provide guests with swift connection to the airport and the rest of the city.

Ascott achieved record growth this year with more than 10,000 apartment units added globally. It also launched LYF, a new brand designed for and managed by millennials, which will complement its other existing brands to accelerate Ascott’s growth to achieve its 80,000-unit target globally by 2020.

Chilston Park

Chilston Park, Kent

1000 625 Daniel Fountain

Tucked away in 22 acres of Kent countryside is the beautiful Chilston Park – a Grade I-listed manor house from the 15th century – home to a 53-room hotel offering in the Hand Picked Hotels Collection.

But its idyllic location belies a fantastic location, close to the M20 and Channel Tunnel, and ease of access to London and the Eurotunnel. Not that you would know when walking around the extensive grounds or spending time in its rooms.

Chilston Park

The building’s rich history over the centuries has seen architectural additions and furnished enrich this stunning property – 16th century wooden, carved panels above the main fireplace, twelve-paned sash windows and a smattering of priceless antiques left by the various families who have owned the property over the last five centuries.

On our visit, we were given a feature room and a suite to sample – Treen and Tudor respectively – and the design and furnishings in both continue the celebration of classic antiquity seen throughout the rest of the hotel. The Tudor suite in particular was a joy to behold, with stunning original beams throughout, spacious living spaces and a sumptuous standalone bath being the highlights – a perfect example of country house splendour.

Of Chilston’s 53 individually-named rooms, there are 15 in the main house, with the remainder located in the stone stables, coachman’s cottages and new extension outside. Mews rooms in the Stables and Coachman’s Cottages feature a more homely feel and courtyard views. All rooms are luxuriously appointed with Hotel Designs partners Hypnos beds, plush bed linens and toiletries.

The main dining option of Chilston Park is the Wedgwood blue-themed, classically decorated Culpepper’s Restaurant where the majority of guests will dine. But all the public spaces carry the same charm, with the centrepiece being the main staircase (above, left); a fantastically grand space and a perfect spot for drinks. Chilston Park also caters for business guests, with 10 meeting spaces and the ability to cater for up to 150 delegates.

With a blend of beautiful interiors, classic luxury and superb location – Chilston Park is a gem, and well worth a visit if one is in the area.


Palé Hall

North Wales’ Palé Hall Hotel now officially open

900 545 Daniel Fountain

The re-imagined Grade II listed Palé Hall is now officially open as one of the finest country house hotels in Wales and the UK, and the first member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World in Wales. New owners Alan and Angela Harper have lovingly restored the historic house to its former glory, creating a peaceful and luxurious retreat surrounded by the natural beauty of the Welsh valleys on the edge of Snowdonia National Park.

Palé Hall is one of Wales’s most important surviving homes with a fascinating history dating back to the late 19th century when Henry Robertson, a railway engineer, industrialist and contemporary of Brunel, bought the estate as a grand personal project at the end of his transformative career in building public works. Since construction, the manor house has played host to some of Britain’s most famous figures including Queen Victoria and Winston Churchill.

The re-imagined Grade II listed Palé Hall is now officially open as one of the finest country house hotels in Wales and the UK

In its new chapter as a hotel, 18 guest bedrooms and suites have been individually designed with their own style and personal identity, as have the beautiful light-filled public areas of the house including the opulent drawing room and tranquil parlour overlooking the grounds. General Manager Pim Wolfs, who has a wealth of experience from establishments including Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons, is in charge of ensuring guests experience the very best personal service throughout their stay.

The re-imagined Grade II listed Palé Hall is now officially open as one of the finest country house hotels in Wales and the UK

The individually designed guestrooms use soft yet playful Zoffany furnishings and quintessentially British William Morris prints. Each room holds its own history, such as the aptly named Victoria Suite, home to the bed that Queen Victoria once slept in and her original bathtub. Choose from ‘Classic Rooms’, ‘Turret Suites’, ‘Grand Rooms’, ‘Master Rooms’ and ‘Superior Suites’. A very special highlight is the amazing wood panelled Churchill Suite, where Churchill is alleged to have played snooker on his many visits to Palé Hall. Every guestroom enjoys a stunning view across the rural Welsh landscape, with window seats or deeply comfortable sofas and armchairs from which to watch the world go by.

The three dining areas within the house provide breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner to residents and non-residents, each with a different look and feel. The largest of them is the grand Henry Robertson dining room, followed by the Venetian dining room and finally the intimate library, the perfect setting for private dining.

Ynyshir Hall

Ynyshir Hall relaunches as restaurant with rooms

997 473 Daniel Fountain

Tucked away between the golden sands of Borth Beach and the rugged mountains of Snowdonia National Park, Ynyshir is one of Wales’ most highly acclaimed restaurants, with a dramatic backdrop of some of the most spectacular rural scenery in the country.

Previously known as Ynyshir Hall, and operated as a hotel with a fine-dining restaurant, the new purveyors of the property are to bring head chef Gareth Ward’s Michelin-starred food to the forefront of the Ynyshir experience, repositioning the property as a restaurant with rooms in the autumn of 2016.

Previously known as Ynyshir Hall, and operated as a hotel with a fine-dining restaurant, the new purveyors of the property are to bring head chef Gareth Ward’s Michelin-starred food to the forefront
Ynyshir will maintain the high levels of service that hotel guests have come to expect, but with a focus on the dining experience, pushing Ynyshir forward as a destination restaurant with rooms. In line with the changes, opening days will be reduced to five per week, where both the restaurant and rooms will be closed on Sunday and Monday.

Previously known as Ynyshir Hall, and operated as a hotel with a fine-dining restaurant, the new purveyors of the property are to bring head chef Gareth Ward’s Michelin-starred food to the forefront

Gareth Ward arrived at Ynyshir in 2013 and quickly made his mark on the restaurant, gaining a coveted Michelin star in his first full year, as well as being awarded the Good Food Guide 2015 ‘Chef to Watch’ editor’s award. Four AA Rosettes quickly followed, making Ynyshir the only establishment in Wales to hold the accolade. During his time at Ynyshir, Gareth has quietly made a name for himself in the restaurant world for his creative and unique dishes, setting the foundations and raising the anticipation for this exciting new direction.

Previously known as Ynyshir Hall, and operated as a hotel with a fine-dining restaurant, the new purveyors of the property are to bring head chef Gareth Ward’s Michelin-starred food to the forefront

Once owned by Queen Victoria as a hidden retreat, Ynyshir offers ten bedrooms alongside the restaurant, each with their own identity. Each bedroom, including two garden suites, offers spectacular views over the gardens and surrounding landscape of RSPB Ynyshir Nature Reserve, one of Britain’s finest bird reserves. Ynyshir’s unspoiled setting offers guests a chance to explore some of the most dramatic and breathtaking scenery the UK has to offer, alongside an opportunity to revere the the quiet of the idyll, taking in fresh air and stunning night skies.

Previously known as Ynyshir Hall, and operated as a hotel with a fine-dining restaurant, the new purveyors of the property are to bring head chef Gareth Ward’s Michelin-starred food to the forefront

The remoteness of Ynyshir is what makes it so special and this new direction is set to re-establish the property as not only one of Wales’ most revered destination restaurants, but of the UK too, and with the added option to stay overnight, Ynyshir is the perfect location for the ultimate foodie retreat.

Photos: ynyshirhall.co.uk

Verve Hotel, Bedford

Remarkable boutique transformation for Bedford’s Verve Hotel

643 419 Daniel Fountain

A new boutique hotel has opened in Bedford, on the site of the old Shakespeare Hotel, as the new owners bid to bring ‘a bit of excitement’ to the town’s hotel scene.

The now-called Verve Hotel on Shakespeare Road opened last month following a £500,000 transformation that saw its interiors given a ‘London-inspired’ makeover and the property become a sleek, modern boutique.

The new-look hotel is home to 23 bedrooms, a garden, a bar and dining room, plus a large function room.

Speaking to Bedfordshire on Sunday, manager Milena Horrocks added: “We want to bring a bit of the big city, without the big city prices, and we are excited for the people of Bedford to come down and see what we have here.”

Photos: vervebedford.co.uk

Coach House Hotel

Stage is set for historic Coach House Hotel opening

1000 618 Daniel Fountain

The Otterburn Coach House Hotel is set in a stunning deer park and woodland around the former Otterburn Hall Hotel, which closed in 2012. The Coach House went under the hammer in January last year when it was sold along with the hall and other buildings. It will be the first of the developments on the site to rise from the ashes when it opens for business in August.

New owner Julie Blackie is targeting the huge wedding market that is now thriving in Otterburn, by providing a marriage venue and overspill accommodation for guests tying the knot at sites around the Northumberland town. She said: “Otterburn has become a really popular place for couples to marry, but there just wasn’t the level of overnight accommodation locally to meet demand from wedding guests.

“The Coach House will fill that gap in the market, and we’re also welcoming in parties and celebrations of our own to cater for local people and those visiting the area from further afield. We’ll be providing great food – including Sunday lunches – and an excellent atmosphere, so local people can enjoy a great night out without having to travel to Newcastle or Edinburgh for it,” she added.

Built in 1870 for Lord James Douglas, the Coach House has 14 bedrooms, a bar and dining area, and has undergone a major refurbishment since Julie bought it at auction. It’s part of the Otterburn Hall estate, which was originally a country estate popular for shooting and fishing. The Hall itself was turned into a spa hotel in the 1920s and in recent years was known as a wedding venue before closing unexpectedly in 2012.

Coach House Hotel

Julie is using her creative and organisational nous to turn the Coach House into a must-visit destination. A former project manager with Newcastle City Council, she has a flair for organisation having previously worked as a trouble-shooter to turn around the fortunes of failing businesses in Newcastle. The family oriented businesswoman has also recently helped her daughter, Alice Hall set up the multi-million-pound turnover online fashion business; Pink Boutique and the Coach House business sees Julie working in partnership with another of her four daughters, Julie Burrows.

“It’s great to be able to work with my daughters in two very different businesses. They are both very talented and have great plans for the future and I’m looking forward to sharing my experiences with them.”

As well as her business ventures, Julie is a successful TV screenwriter, who has written for Hollyoaks and Casualty. She’s also the co-author of best-selling crime novel The Prodigal with Nicky Doherty under the joint pen name Nicky Black. She’ll be using all of her entrepreneurial and creative talents to put the Coach House firmly on the map, with coach trips for vintage-style teas, gourmet fine dining nights and facilities for dark sky stargazers, walkers, cyclists and dog owners all on the new hotel’s agenda.

The Coach House conversion will initially create five new jobs, including manager Laura Kennedy, who previously worked as assistant manager at the Newcastle-Gateshead Hilton. It’s a homecoming for Laura as she also previously worked in a local hotel and was brought up in nearby Bryness Village on the Scottish Border.

Laura said: ” This is a tremendous challenge and a very exciting opportunity for me to help the Coach House become one of the must go to hotels in the region. We’ve had a number of firm bookings on Bookings.com so the signs are already looking good for the future.

“We have an incredible team and I’m looking forward to making our guests feel valued and welcome. Otterburn has so much to offer and I’m proud to be such a big part of the hotel’s plans.”

Also earning a new position is head chef David Hadfield, who was previously employed at The Duck in Corbridge.

The Coach House Hotel takes its first guests on August 16th

Leeu Estates

Leeu Estates, Franschhoek opens its doors

1000 490 Daniel Fountain

The five-star Leeu Estates has opened its doors in Franschhoek, South Africa.

Numerous designers worked on the property’s architecture, interiors and gardens, including Spanish architect Tomeu Esteva, South African firm Graham Goosen and Johan Malherbe of Malherbe Rust Architects. Cape Town-based studio Beverley Boswell Designs focused on the interiors, while landscape designer Franchesca Watson crafted the gardens.

The 17-room boutique property is located on more than 168 acres of working vineyards. The renovated 19th-century Manor House has contemporary and classic detailing in its guestrooms and suites. Custom architecture and a relaxed colour scheme define the rooms, which also has curated artwork and sculptures from across the globe. Most rooms have terraces and fireplaces.

Leeu Estates

Named after the Afrikaans word for ‘small buck’, the Bokkie Garden has grasses and hedges typically found in the animal’s diet. There is also a bronze and granite sculpture by South African artist Angus Taylor. The property’s signature Leeu Spa houses a gym with mountain views, a nearly 50-foot-long infinity pool, and various wellness offerings.

Other amenities at the property include the garden terrace, which offers al fresco dining for up to 40 guests, and a reading room with a fireplace and views of the vineyards and gardens.


Wotton House unveils first phase of £6 million renovation

1000 500 Daniel Fountain

The spectacular 17th century Wotton House in Surrey has revealed phase one of its £6million refurbishment. Nestled in 13 acres of stunning listed gardens in the Surrey countryside, the property has completed almost half of its bedroom renovations, as well as the first bedroom suite, the Jasmine Suite, located in the Mansion House.

The redesign is part of the group’s wider multi-million pound renovation project across its country estate hotels portfolio, placing the Mansion House building back at the very heart of its country property portfolio, to create country estate hotels where traditional values meet the latest luxuries. Using the grounds to great effect, the investment includes the addition of outdoor dining and sculpture parks to a number of properties, making the great outdoors an extension of the hotel itself.

Future phases of the Wotton House refurbishment will see the addition of 16 new suites in the Mansion House area of the hotel, bringing the total number of rooms to 127, all of which will feature stylish en-suites and fantastic views of either the beautiful gardens or the dramatic manor house entrance.

There will be a full overhaul of all public areas, bedrooms, the restaurant and bar, flexible meeting spaces, as well as the spectacular Old Library which is popular for both weddings and private dining.

Wotton House

The décor and theming of the refurbishment is classic heritage with modern comfort using stylish furnishings, sumptuous fabrics and traditional touches. The refurbished public areas will be decorated with vintage items such as globes, bound books and antique keys adding character and warmth to the hotel.

The hotel’s stunning Evelyn Suite, suitable for up to 180 delegates theatre-style or 120 for a banquet, has recently completed its refurbishment and boasts picturesque views of Wotton’s Grade II listed gardens. Its neutral décor provides a sophisticated look with detailing inspired by the building’s rich architecture. In addition to this, the hotel also features 20 flexible meeting and event spaces, all of which are flooded with natural light.

Surrey-based artist, Emma Stothard, has also been commissioned to create a number of new sculptures inspired by nature. Emma’s other work includes a willow sculpture for HRH the Prince of Wales set within the grounds of Highgrove. This is the first of a series of creative installations set to be launched across the refurbished Country House Hotel portfolio by teaming up with local artists.

Caroline Morrone, general manager at Wotton House, commented: “As a popular venue for the conference, business, leisure and wedding sectors, the project has been planned and designed to appeal to all our customers and provide an attractive, contemporary venue in stunning surroundings which pays homage to its history. We are delighted with the results so far and are already receiving fantastic feedback from our guests. We are confident that the new suites provide a luxurious accommodation offering to wedding parties and those looking for something a little more special.”


Dominic West to convert Irish castle into boutique hotel

Actor Dominic West to convert Irish castle into boutique hotel

711 347 Daniel Fountain

Renowned TV and film actor Dominic West and his family are to convert a castle in Limerick, Ireland into a boutique hotel.

The 700-year-old Glin Castle, the ancestral home of West’s wife Catherine Fitzgerald, was on sale for £5.5 million, but the family changed their minds.

“Selling up was absolutely heart-breaking for all of us, especially my mother-in-law and my wife and luckily, we’re reopening it as a hotel, all going well, some time next year,” said West.

“I’m going to manage it. I want to be in charge or as much as my schedule will allow. Obviously there will be someone in place far more experienced and qualified than I coping with the day-to-day. But we want to be there. We’re going to be heavily involved. That’s why we’re moving home to Ireland. We spend a large amount of time there already. It is for all intents and purposes home for us.”

The castle has previously been rented out in its entirety to clients including Mick Jagger, Marianne Faithful and Talitha Getty.

Clevedon Hall, Somerset

Clevedon Hall, Somerset

1000 562 Daniel Fountain

On a recent editorial jaunt for Hotel Design’s sister publication (PA Life) I was invited to spend an evening at Clevedon Hall, a Victorian mansion conversion overlooking the Bristol Channel. My invitation was to experience their new corporate hosting (FULL REVIEW HERE), but the overnight stay allowed me to assess the considerable work that has been carried out on the property’s upper levels in recent years.

Originally used as office space for the venue’s long-thriving wedding hosting service, Jane Clayton & Company were tasked with restoring these upper floors to create 25 individually appointed bedrooms from the available space. It means that the interiors for each room have been uniquely designed and considered, taking into account size, aspect and architecture.

Clevedon Hall, Somerset

Speaking to Lawrence Dauncey, Clevedon Hall’s Corporate Concierge, he tells me that the firm have been careful to avoid a generic theme. Instead, and rather cleverly, Clayton and her team have kept a continuous theme running throughout the rooms through selection of furniture and furnishings and a subtle, nature-inspired colour palette.

Speaking of nature, my wonderfully-named ‘Peregrine’ suite is a gorgeous blend of greys, browns and cream and the attention to detail in the upholstery and accessories adds a luxuriously traditional feel – but having recently been completed, the room still retains a ‘freshly painted’ look. Both the bedroom and bathroom are spacious and a well-lit entrance hallway splits the two, a touch I particularly like as it keeps a degree of separation between the living and washroom areas.

Clevedon Hall, Somerset

The touches of luxury continue in the bathroom: an extremely hi-tech toilet in the Japanese style (which I’m reliably informed costs upwards of £6,000), a striking standalone sink unit, walk-in shower and generously-sized bathtub – it’s a shame I’m only staying for one evening. The colour scheme from the living quarters continue with light mink tiling and panels, with marble and mahogany adding touches of luxury.

Clevedon Hall, Somerset

The public spaces of the hotel where events are hosted – such as the Grand Library, Orangery, and Conrad Finzel and Dame Rosa Burden suites – are beautiful in the grand, traditional sense and (as I wrote elsewhere) ooze character and style. They boast stunning architectural features, including an old wood panelled library and many original features.

Clevedon Hall, Somerset

Plans have been approved and action is already under way to carry out a renovation of the ground-floor levels in a similar style to the guestrooms, bringing a contemporary feel to the Great Hall entrance area, which will bring the standard of this building inside and out to a very high level.

As I write, the hotel remains open to event or corporate guests only, and Lawrence tells me the owners plan to keep it that way. But the work already completed on the property, and considerable refurbishment to come on the ground floors (which I cannot wait to see for myself later in the year), make this an exemplary case study of interior design and using existing spaces well; so much so you might want to book an event just to try it for yourself…

Based on a stay in May 2016
Photos: Daniel Fountain

Courthouse Hotel Shoreditch - Daltson King Room

Former Old Street Magistrates’ Court becomes boutique hotel

1000 626 Daniel Fountain

London’s newest luxury boutique hotel Courthouse Hotel Shoreditch opened its doors on 1 May 2016, allowing guests to discover its eclectic criminal past. The former Old Street Magistrates’ Court and Police Station boasts a rich history, as the very place where Ronnie and Reggie Kray were once detained.

The property is part of Worldhotels, the international group which currently offers 450 hotels in 250 destinations and 65 countries worldwide. The addition of the Courthouse Hotel Shoreditch is part of the brand’s strategy of further expansion in Europe.

Courthouse Hotel Shoreditch has used its colourful past – the Grade II listed building served as the Old Street Magistrates’ Court and Police Station from 1903 until 1996 – to create a truly one-of-a-kind hotel experience. Its impressive period features have been retained and restored whilst being complemented by equally arresting contemporary additions. Even after it closed its doors, it remained a much sought after filming location, featuring in everything from Spooks to Luther.

Courthouse Hotel Shoreditch - Bowling Alley
Located on Old Street in both the old and new wings are 86 guest rooms and 42 suites, each setting a benchmark for luxury accommodation in Shoreditch. The collection is spearheaded by the Shoreditch Sky Terrace Suites, two jaw-dropping one-bedroom residences spread out across 60 square metres of living space. Along with their panoramic London skyline views, each boast a private bar and mini cinema lounge.

The former Courtroom Number 1 now hosts the main casual fine dining restaurant whilst Courtroom Number 2 has been transformed into an ultra-exclusive members’ bar.

Courthouse Hotel
Providing a quirky setting in which to enjoy an expertly mixed cocktail, the main bar features three of the original detention cells, which can be booked for private groups for drinks for up to eight. The Shoreditch Sky Terrace bar meanwhile offers a spectacular spot in which to relax with a cocktail during the summer months.

Guests of Courthouse Hotel Shoreditch have access to the very finest facilities with the contemporary wing housing such state-of-the art offerings including a 196-seat cinema, a two-lane lane bowling alley with private bar and an events space capable of accommodating up to 900 people in a reception-style. The hotel boasts a luxury spa featuring a heated indoor swimming pool, fitness centre, treatment rooms, steam room and sauna.

HGU New York

Introducing HGU New York – a landmark hotel reborn

999 611 Daniel Fountain

Alfa Development, one of Manhattan’s leading real estate companies, will be opening its first boutique hotel project, HGU New York. Alfa Development has invested $18 million in renovations of HGU New York, located in the NoMad District at 34 East 32nd Street.

The hotel will manifest the city’s history through its original architecture, curated art programming and multifaceted eclectic design.

The hotel lobby preserves the history of the 1905 landmark Beaux-Arts structure designed by architect Frederick C. Browne. To inject a modern New York sensibility to the property, Alfa Development has enlisted hospitality designer Peter Guzy of Asfour Guzy Architects as well as DD Allen of Pierce Allen Design. The fusion of these two visions is a mindfully designed and eco-conscious hotel, where guests enjoy in the ambience of communal spaces.

Alfa Development brings a sensibility in design and modern infrastructure to hospitality, including a state of the art HVAC system decreasing the carbon footprint by 50%.

HGU New York
“We look forward to introducing our motto, history, architecture, and sustainability on a human scale into one of the world’s most robust hotel markets,” adds Michael Namer, CEO of Alfa Development. “While the renovation brings new life to this landmark hotel, we are preserving the historic elements to what we believe the hotel would have offered, providing guests with an experience grounded in a century-long New York point of view.”

HGU New York has also partnered with Gallery 151, a premier contemporary art gallery based in lower Manhattan. The curated art will showcase contemporary pieces, drawing inspiration from urban backdrops of New York City’s emerging artists and feature icons such as Fab 5 Freddy and Liz Markus, among many others.

Highlighting a residential style of living, the entryway to guest rooms serves as a place to decompress, with soft tones creating a serene atmosphere, while wood cabinets and furniture are complimented by hand-woven patchwork Turkish rugs and plush velvet headboards. Luxury 300-thread count Frette bedding, bath and beauty products from C.O. Bigelow Apothecaries, 24-hour room service and complimentary high speed WiFi and in room iPad minis are just some of the amenities available to guests.

HGU New York’s lounge aptly called 1905 is complete with a fireplace from the building’s original structure. 1905 will serve as the perfect place for meetings and events, offering guests the opportunity to enjoy live entertainment, intimate recording artist sessions, Q&A series, and private film screenings.

Apple Apartments - Atrium Lounge - Royal Mile

Historic Royal Mile building to be converted into luxury boutique

1000 618 Daniel Fountain

An historic former school building next to Edinburgh’s Royal Mile is to be converted into a boutique hotel and restaurant as part of the £150 million New Waverley development currently transforming the city’s Old Town.

The C-listed red sandstone Canongate Venture building, one of Edinburgh’s last remaining ‘School Board’ designs of the late-Victorian era, will become a 21-room luxury aparthotel, managed by Apple Apartments.

Plans for the two-storey building include the conversion of the original school rooms into 21 double-height serviced apartments, each with a mezzanine level providing separate sleeping and living areas. The rooms will overlook a light-filled glass atrium forming part of a spectacular central galleried hall, which has remained unchanged since the building was first designed in 1901 as an infant school by Edinburgh School Board architect Robert Wilson.

Apple Apartments - First Floor Atrium

Launched in 2013, London-based Apple Apartments is fast-becoming one of the UK’s most successful niche aparthotel operators, specialising in the conversion of small-scale period buildings into high-quality serviced apartments. The company is run by Scottish businessman Billy Cowe and his brother Peter, who have been involved in global property management and development for the past 15 years.

“We knew straight away that this historic building would be perfect for our next specialist conversion project,” says Billy Cowe. “As well as sitting alongside the Royal Mile, one of the world’s most iconic streets, it also has a range of striking features both inside and out, which make it genuinely stand out as a unique destination not just in Edinburgh but across the UK.

“There is a huge, growing demand for high-quality serviced apartments in good city-centre locations serving both corporate and leisure markets. The Canongate Venture is set to become a flagship aparthotel across our UK business, offering something a little different. As well as fully serviced rooms, we will also be incorporating 24-hour butler service, an exclusive customer lounge and a gourmet restaurant which will also provide room service for guests.”

Royal Mile project to turn old school building into boutique hotel
Discussions for the ‘in-house’ restaurant are currently underway with top London names including an internationally recognised successful chef. As well as serving main meals, the restaurant will also provide a full room service menu for all the apartments – including breakfast.

Inside, the new boutique hotel will keep many of the original features such as the glass atrium and original wood floors. New features such as bespoke wood panelling walls and specially designed Tweeds will be used to create a 5-star high quality environment inspired by other flagship Apple developments, including Marconi House on the Strand in London.

Project Spotlight: ‘Gallery of glamour in the glens’ – Muckrach Country House

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Muckrach Country House Hotel in the Scottish Highlands just north of Aviemore is an 11 bedroom Victorian Shooting Lodge set in 10 acres, surrounded by pastureland and a Scottish castle.

The historic shooting lodge has been totally refurbished from the bare bones of a soulless granite building into an opulent and lively hotel with a warm Highland welcome with quirky twists to the glamorous luxury and the latest technology.

After the initial meeting and taking of the design brief, listening to the hoteliers’ needs, Keith Clarke, Contract and Development Manager from Gallery Direct put together design layouts, mood boards and specifications to create the look and feel that was the clients vision. Subsequent meetings took place at the Gallery Direct Design Centre in High Wycombe and details were finalised.

Frank Hudson Maine Wing Bed with bespoke Vermont - Muckrach Country House
Once the order was confirmed production drawings were completed and the bespoke pieces produced to go with the standard production pieces from the Gallery Collections. The experienced installation team delivered the products over a 2-day period. Training on furniture care was also given to the housekeeping staff so that everything can be kept in the best condition to make sure that the individual guest experience is always at the highest standard.

Phil and Ed Cowap, the new owners, said: “It has been an absolute pleasure working with Keith from Gallery Direct. His attention to detail and vast knowledge of the industry has been invaluable in the refurbishment process. Keith has helped us to create stunning and fabulous bedroom sets which create an immediate impression of luxury and charm.”

Three Horsehoes Hotel bedroom

Three Horseshoes Hotel in final stages of £200k redevelopment

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A North East hotel, which had fallen in to disrepair, has been given a new lease of life with a £200,000 investment.

The Three Horseshoes Hotel, between Sunderland and Washington, is now operating as a boutique B&B and gastropub after being bought by leading leisure firm Tavistock Hospitality Ltd.

The company, which runs more than a dozen bars, hotels and restaurants across the North East, initially relaunched the site as a brewery tap for its Sonnet 43 Brew House in January 2016.

Three Horseshoes Hotel

Now, work has been completed on the final stage of its £200,000 restoration, with seven en-suite bedrooms being created to cater for overnight visitors, as well as discerning diners and drinkers.

RELATED: North East hotel Three Horseshoes being restored to ‘former glory’

“Since relaunching earlier this year, The Three Horseshoes Hotel has become increasingly popular with diners from across the North East,” said Jonathan Graham, Operations Director for Tavistock Hospitality.

“Now, with the creation of these seven stunning bedrooms, we are able to welcome visitors from much further afield who are keen to make the most of our high quality food offering, reasonable rates and enviable location.”

The Three Horseshoes Hotel, located just off the A19, offers easy access to Washington, Sunderland, Newcastle and the wider North East, as well as the adjacent Nissan offices and North East Aircraft Museum.

Three Horseshoes restaurant

Its spacious en-suite bedrooms, each boasting Freeview TV and a Bluetooth stereo speaker dock, have been designed to cater for both business and leisure visitors, with subtle nods to the region’s industrial history.

“We wanted the rooms to have a modern, boutique style but also to pay a more personal tribute to the heritage of the surrounding area,” said Jonathan. “With that in mind we’ve used a little untreated wood, as well as glass and steel, to pay homage to the North East’s industrial history and famed manufacturing sector.”

This same sense of locality continues throughout The Three Horseshoes Hotel’s public areas, including the bar, which offers a full range of drinks, including real ale from Sonnet 43 Brew House based at nearby Coxhoe, and the restaurant which serves seasonal dishes based on locally-sourced produce.

Palazzo Scanderbeg, Rome

Palazzo Scanderbeg, Rome – where Renaissance meets design

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Consisting of eleven Townhouse rooms and grand Suites of different sizes, the luxury Palazzo Scanderbeg is located in the heart of Rome, with a rich history dating back to the 15th century. Thanks to a careful restoration carried out by Lamaro Appalti, this hotel can now be enjoyed by the travellers of today.

Palazzo Scanderbeg, Rome: Where Renaissance meets design

Today Palazzo Scanderbeg pays tribute to its illustrious past with a contemporary and sober, yet sophisticated style, embellished by wooden floors recovered from antique Venetian mooring poles and high ceilings with exposed beams.

Palazzo Scanderbeg

The furniture signed Cappellini and Poltrona Frau; the precious suspension lamp by Terzani that lights up the helical-shaped stairs; the Sartori carpets, that mix old Persian rugs in a delicate patchwork; as well as all the other furnishings are examples of that elegant Italian design that exalts craftsmanship also in the most modern style.

Palazzo Scanderbeg

The Palazzo consists of 4 floors and is built around a courtyard where there is a fountain decorated with a decorative gargoyle, from which water flows, a symbol of Italian Mannerism. The building features beautiful terraces, but one of the most sought-after corners is the Library Room – from here one has access to the exclusive Suites, the largest of which measures 166-square-metres.


Manchester Town Hall boutique hotel plans revealed

Boutique hotel discussed as part of £250m Manchester town hall overhaul

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Manchester town hall is set to undergo a much-needed £250 million overhaul which could see a boutique hotel, shops, restaurants and a civic museum all be set up within the iconic Grade I-listed building.

According to the Manchester Evening News, it is hoped the work to fix its ageing infrastructure will also allow council chiefs to open more of it up to the public. In July, council bosses are expected to consider proposals that would see a 50-year loan for around £250m taken out – although the exact figure has not yet been finalised.

While the majority of the building will still be used for local council staff, the opportunity to open a small boutique hotel is being discussed – as long as the interiors are deemed suitable by surveyors.

Meanwhile the town hall’s cobbled courtyard, which is regularly used for film sets due to its Victorian feel, could potentially see small shops opened around its edges.

Palé Hall

Palé Hall to reopen as luxury country house hotel

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Steeped in rich history and surrounded by the stunning Welsh valleys on the edge of Snowdonia National Park, the reimagined Grade II listed Palé Hall by new owners Alan and Angela Harper is set to be unveiled later this summer.

Palé Hall will launch as one of the UK’s finest destination country house hotels with renowned Chef Michael Caines working in collaboration with the Harpers to add an exclusive fine dining restaurant. Alan and Angela have personally overseen the refurbishment, choosing every last detail themselves and creating a peaceful and luxurious retreat surrounded by natural beauty and accompanied by the finest wines and foods.

Palé Hall is one of Wales’ most important surviving homes with a fascinating history dating back to the late 19th century when Henry Robertson, a railway engineer, industrialist and contemporary of Brunel, bought the estate as a grand personal project at the end of his transformative career in building public works. Since construction, the manor house has played host to some of Britain’s most famous figures including Queen Victoria and Winston Churchill.

Palé Hall

In its new chapter as a hotel, 18 guest bedrooms and suites have been transformed and individually designed with their own style and personal identity. The guestrooms use soft yet playful furnishings by Hotel Designs Directory members Zoffany and quintessentially British William Morris prints. Each room holds its own history, such as the aptly named Victoria Suite, home to the bed that Queen Victoria once slept in and her original bath. Another highlight is the wood panelled Robertson Suite where Churchill is alleged to have played snooker on his many visits to Palé Hall. Furthermore, every guestroom enjoys a stunning view across the rural Welsh landscape, with window seats or deeply comfortable sofas and armchairs from which to watch the world go by.

Two drawing rooms both with large comfortable sofas and armchairs are delicately decorated as befits a luxurious country home. Floor to ceiling windows make the ground floor living rooms the perfect place to relax with a book, board game or pre-dinner drink. The piano situated in Palé Hall’s main entrance hall will play a central part, with Palé Hall hosting musical evenings for both guests and locals alike.

In the heart of the North Welsh countryside, Palé Hall is set to become one of the UK’s leading country house hotels with an emphasis on luxurious weekends away, delicious fine-dining from the acclaimed Michael Caines, and the stunning natural surroundings.

Guest Room Image - Trump International Hotel Washington D.C.

Trump International Washington D.C. to open two years ahead of schedule

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Trump International Hotel, Washington, D.C. will open in September 2016 – dramatically ahead of schedule. With its opening, the Nation’s Capital will now be home to an iconic and historic super-luxury hotel rivaling the best of other international capital cities.

“For decades people have looked in wonderment at the magnificence of the Old Post Office building and structure. There is nothing like it and we are so proud to have not only brought this incredible building back to life, but also to a position far greater than it ever was at its previous zenith. It was an honour to have dealt with the professionals at the General Services Administration. It was their total passion and hard work that helped bring this unrivaled project to fruition,” says US presidential hopeful Donald J. Trump.

With its prestigious location right on Pennsylvania Avenue, the US Government has entrusted the Trump Organisation with the complex challenge of transforming this 19th century one-of-a-kind building into one of the greatest luxury hotels in the world.

Cortile Rendering - Trump International Washington D.C.

Painstakingly restoring the intricate stonework, original wood milling and panelling while installing the latest in technology and luxurious comforts expected by today’s sophisticated and discerning travelers, the hotel will introduce to the market 263 exquisitely detailed and spacious guest rooms and suites. The thirty-five suites include the Trump Townhouse with its private entrance on Pennsylvania Avenue. At 6,300-square-feet of interior space, it will be the largest and most luxurious suite in Washington, D.C. and among the largest in the country.

Trump International Washington D.C.

Recognising the need for a luxury ballroom spacious enough to host larger International meetings and opulent enough for prominent city galas, the Trump Organisation designed a complementing addition to the main building. With a private entrance, the 13,200 square foot, column-free Presidential Ballroom will be the largest luxury ballroom in Washington, D.C. and has already been enthusiastically received by wedding and event planners, major associations, and corporations.

“This is my fifth hotel opening and I can say with conviction that I have never seen so much interest and so many early bookings as I have at Trump D.C.; we already have a significant number of events confirmed for 2016 and beyond with many more inquiries being considered,” said Mickael Damelincourt, Managing Director of Trump International Hotel, Washington, D.C. “We are preparing for what is a highly anticipated opening, and one that is unique to Washington, D.C. and the country as a whole.”

Andel’s, Poland (Patrick Goff)

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It has been a pleasure in the first part of 2010 to have seen a succession of beautifully designed hotels – the Arch, the Wit and now Andel’s hotel in Łódź, Poland. Whilst Chicago’s Wit is a new build, with all the benefits that it brings, the Arch and Andel’s are both reconstructions of 19th Century properties. I use the term reconstruction deliberately because to say refurbishment would in both cases underplay the rôle that the teamwork of owner, designer and architect aligned with exceptional contractors has brought to the project. In all three cases it is evident that strong owners have kept a clear sight of the end product they wanted and have made sure the money is spent on the finishes to achieve the required standard, and the required style statement.

Some think that the quality of fine hotels, like those of Anouska Hempel that started the whole boutique craze, is down to the decorative elements. Certainly Hempel’s use in Blakes of sharp down lighting on contrasting table cloths with accent flowers was stunning in the early 1980’s, but that detail was not the key element of why Blakes worked so well for so long. The decorative was but one piece of the puzzle – the main strengths were down to careful space planning of the interiors, careful attention to detail and an eye for where spectacle and theatre can be created in the interiors.

Andels, Lodz in Poland

Andels, Lodz in Poland

In an hotel such as Łódź (and the Arch) the interior could have failed but didn’t thanks to clever planning and design. By taking risks, the team has created a stunning re-use of a building that may otherwise have fallen prey to the demolition crew and are reaping many awards for having done so. The philosophy has been about not only creating a successful hotel but also about respect for the past, for the history of the building. Throughout the historic structure, cast iron columns, brick jack arches and other features have been retained and enhanced by pieces of machinery salvaged from the dereliction that was here before.

Old structures pose particular problems for interior designers,and here it was the modular of the columns, which with bays three metres wide was quite a bit smaller that current trends, never mind the historic bedroom width of 3.66m (12 feet if you are an imperialist).

Incidentally did you know that the 3.66m/12foot width was the original width of Axminster carpet looms? Bedroom width was set so as not to create any waste on carpet installation and became a standard until the turn of the century.

The span of the bays is obviously just one of the problems in planning that an old building like this creates. Its length, the width and the lack of daylight at the heart of the building were also major headaches. Like many truly creative teams the designers here produced a dramatic design solution that produced a major part of the drama of the interiors, by simply punching through the floors of the building to create internal light wells. The difficulties of providing fire protection were resolved by automatic flame proofing barriers that drop down around the holes to ensure smoke and flame is not transmitted to the bedroom areas in event of fire. The holes’ edges are lit with colour changing LED lighting and projected images and become the dominant visual element in first(and second and third)impressions.

The designers have played with the spaces and materials, using organic forms to offset the severity of the original construction, using colour playfully too. On occasion the furniture viewed from floors above through the ‘light wells’ has the appearance of liquorice allsorts, whilst ground floor carpets echo the holes in the ceiling. Curve against straight line angle works to produce visually engaging areas that delight the eye. The amount of space for guests provides a true feeling of luxury.


Using the lift core and restaurant areas also help to break up the length of the building. The need for corridor connection between the conference areas and main lobby on the ground floor is used to break up the large restaurant spaces to create smaller, more intimate dining areas.

The length of the building also allows a second entrance for the conference and meeting room area, with its own reception desk. Security for guestrooms is reinforced by the use of key card operation for the lifts. Guestrooms are contained between the pool and spa on the top floor and the reception, dining and bar areas on the ground floor.

Despite the problems caused by the nature of the jack arches, the bedroom uses the space well, with added length compensating for decreased width – in fact allowing spaces to work better, giving larger bathrooms that are long enough for a soaking tub and a separate walk-in shower adjacent to the separate toilet. The extra length also allows for the creation of an area away from the bed for the desk, as well as for a large armchair and seating area.

The bedroom desk is large enough to work on comfortably, suiting the orientation of the hotel which, as a large conference hotel, is targeted mainly on the business market. The separate entrance and own reception desk for the conference area however, keeps the hotel functions separate.

The design of the restaurant, which is divided into half a dozen areas of varying size supports this separation, allowing for conference delegates to eat separately from small family gatherings or individual guests. In addition, the bar end of the capacious public areas has a separate bistro type zone for those who want to meet and snack.

Bedroom floors have of course, the drama of the light wells punching through allowing views down to the floors below or up to the skylights above. The circular wall surrounding the openings can also have video imagery projected onto them. Preventing areas opening onto bedroom corridors from forming a fire chimney is difficult. Here the resolution is shutters that come down from the ceiling closing the light wells off from the means of escape. The constantly changing LED lights, set under the rim of the wall, cap around the light wells and create a continuous drama of light and colour, particularly at night.

Lighting design throughout is very well done. Bedrooms have their own drama with light thrown up into their brick arched ceilings whilst the use of large anglepois style bedhead lights mean that it is possible to read comfortably in bed whilst also moving the light if need be. Good task lighting at the desk and sockets that are in the right place also help make for an efficient work environment if one is needed. Romance is not forgotten however, with the use of historic fabric patterns from the archive of products produced by the mill on cushions and bedhead linking to the past.

In the generously sized bathrooms, which have separate walk-in showers as well as soaking tubs and separate toilet areas, a touch of romance is also brought in by the use of an under sink light. I first saw this device of a coloured light under the sink beautifully used in the Meridien Vienna where it was eau de nil in colour. Here it is a rich plum panel, preventing the design becoming too clinical.

Overall the feel of the bedroom is of spaciousness despite their narrow width. With their deeply recessed opening windows flooding them with daylight and skilful lighting at night they are exceptional for Łódź’s first four star hotel and set a standard which many supposed five stars fail to attain.

“This is, truly, a stunning hotel conversion – Blackburn, Preston why did you pull your mills down?”

The drama of the design, architectural and interior, continues on the top floor with spa and 1,300 m² fully glass-enclosed ballroom/function rooms. The interior mix of reclaimed and exposed industrial surface along with sophisticated contemporary finishes continues in the spa and treatment room. In an architectural tour de force, the old factory emergency water tank has been refurbished (hardly seems to do the process justice) and turned into a spectacular roof top swimming pool, the end of which projects many feet over the edge of the building line. With windows in the floor as well as all surrounding glass, the pool offers spectacular views over the new shopping centre, housed in other restored buildings from the life of this, one of the largest mills in Poland.


The team of client, architect and interior designer along with very capable builders have transformed the building. Adjacent, the palace of the owner (seems hardly appropriate to call it his house) has also been transformed, restored to a Museum of high Victorian mid-European taste (for an example of an hotel in the similar style have a look at Noma).

With duplex suites, 3,100 m² of conference and function spaces, spectacular pool, spa, restaurants and 278 bedrooms the hotel brings a new dimension to hospitality in central Poland. The stunning architecture and theatrical interiors are already bringing awards from ceremonies in New York and London, as well as in Continental Europe.

Location is excellent, on the edge of the city centre adjacent to the ‘Manufactura’ shopping centre. This is, truly, a stunning hotel conversion – Blackburn, Preston why did you pull your mills down?

Architect:the Polish-Austrian team of OP Architekten
Interior Designers: Jestico + Whiles
Operator: Vienna International

Allwords & pictures copyright Patrick Gof