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      Sofitel London St James luxury room with blue tartan carpets and blue modern furniture

      Hotel review (in video): checking in to Sofitel London St James

      730 565 Hamish Kilburn
      Hotel review (in video): checking in to Sofitel London St James

      17 years after first unveiling the original designs for the Sofitel London St James, Pierre-Yves Rochon returned to London to breathe new life into the 183-key lifestyle luxury hotel. Editor Hamish Kilburn, along with a production team to film his response, checks in find out more…

      Sofitel London St James luxury room with blue tartan carpets and blue modern furniture

      The ultimate compliment for a hotel designer, aside from a client signing off one stage allowing them to move on to the next, is being asked to return back to a project years later to lead it sensitively into a new era. This scenario, although rare and therefore highly momentous, also comes with certain pressures, considering that each and every decision will be scrutinised by client and critic and compared to the statement design scheme that was originally unveiled and considered a success.

      For Sofitel London St James, a flagship for the global hotel brand that is positioned in between Westminster and Mayfair, the decision to invite legendary designer Pierre-Yves Rochon back to redesign the guestrooms and suites was one that came naturally. And it was his ability to combine English décor with refined French elegance that gave this hotel’s interiors a new and somewhat an unexpected personality.

      “It was important to preserve the identity of the hotel that was created 17 years ago.” – Pierre-Yves Rochon

      To truly capture the essence of this modern hotel sheltered in a heritage building, I checked in with our product team at CUBE Video to explore what makes this hotel special. Here’s how I got on…

      “It was important to preserve the identity of the hotel that was created 17 years ago,” Rochon told Hotel Designs. “So, there was a clever mix between the elements of the past that we have kept and the new elements marking the new decoration. For example, we kept the headboards and bedside tables the same, but we created a new concept in the guestrooms and suites, which we refer to as the ‘Media wall library’.”

      Sofitel London St James luxury twin room in red

      Image credit: Sofitel London St James

      Inside the new guestrooms, which are complete with retro furniture and bold colours, it is clear that the aim was to, in Rochon’s words, “give a new life to the hotel.” To prevent each room in either green, red or blue colour schemes from looking ‘tired’, and to refine a modern interior design scheme fit for the flagship status it has been given, Rochon’s bold leap away from convention allowed him to further blur the definition of what a London hotel should look like. The tartan carpets, for example, create a textured layer of detail but also compliment the 1960s – 70s theme explored in the design scheme, as Rochon explains: “The choice of Scottish-inspired carpets in the bedrooms is, of course, linked to the fact that we are in the UK, but another reason we choose these carpets was because of the geometric appearance which corresponds to this particular period of design in the 1960s and 70s.”

      Image credit: Sofitel London St James blue guestrooms with tartan carpets and blue walls

      Image credit: Sofitel London St James

      Throughout the hotel, there is a dominant theme of English Style meeting French elegance. While the guestrooms are trendy with certain nods to British iconic fashion figures of the 60s and 70s, the bathrooms are chic, well-lit and with a black and white colour scheme they are also somewhat timeless. “The bathrooms have always been appreciated by the hotel’s guests, so we simply decided to refurbish them when necessary,” said Rochon. “This included improving the lighting, creating showers and redesigning the floors in black and white graphics, in continuity with the original decoration.”

      When asked, Rochon admitted that the most challenging aspect of the renovation was staying within budget, “while also respecting the decorative spirit” of the hotel. Regardless of having to stay between the lines of a budget, it is admirable how one designer’s creativity can lead one hotel into two different eras, and as a result re-unveil a modern masterpiece that lives up to its flagship title.

      Main image credit: Sofitel London St James

      Property set to transition to Sofitel following refurbishment program

      1000 665 Daniel Fountain

      AccorHotels has announced the rebranding of a landmark hotel in Jordan to Le Grand Amman.

      The property consisting of 298-rooms and 67 well-appointed serviced apartments was launched in partnership with Iskan Co. for Touristic & Hotel Investments.

      A welcome addition to Jordan’s rapidly evolving tourism and travel industry, the property is set to become Sofitel Amman following the first phase of refurbishment towards the end of 2019. Upon completion, this will mark the debut of Sofitel Hotels & Resorts in Jordan.

      “This opening signifies the strategic expansion of our luxury portfolio in Jordan. While this property will be operated as Le Grand Amman – managed by AccorHotels, we are delighted to announce that it will transition into Sofitel, making way for the entry of one of our most prolific luxury brands in Jordan.

      “Through this development with our trusted partner, we aim to bring the French art de vivre to a vibrant and growing market.”

      The hotel features two specialty restaurants, an all-day dining restaurant, a trendy lobby lounge & bar along with a pool bar. Guests can relax and unwind at the spa or focus on wellness through the health club, indoor and outdoor pools.

      Business travellers also have access to eight meeting rooms in addition to the largest ballroom in Amman for large-scale events and family occasions.

      Sami Elmabrouk chairman of Iskan Co. for Touristic & Hotel Investments, added: “AccorHotels’ unparalleled network of hotels across the Middle East and strong distribution platform makes them the ideal partner as we look to expand our hospitality offering within Jordan.

      “We are confident that Le Grand Amman – Managed by AccorHotels, which will later be reintroduced as Sofitel Amman, will be a truly remarkable and unique property within a growing market.”

      Victory House Hotel, London Leicester Square

      Opening: Victory House, London Leicester Square

      1024 682 Daniel Fountain

      Victory House, London Leicester Square – MGallery by Sofitel has opened, offering a cosy escape in the heart of the vibrant West End.

      Overlooking Leicester Square, the luxury boutique hotel is steps away from London’s iconic red carpet and renowned cinema scene, offering a front row seat to the city’s major film premieres as well as making it the ideal location for spotting celebrities on the red carpet.

      Victory House, London Leicester Square boasts 86 stylish and contemporary bedrooms, including nine suites, which are fully soundproofed to create a quiet haven in the buzz of London’s film district. With an unparalleled view over Leicester Square, each room also offers a luxurious and memorable front row view when one of the red carpet’s many film premieres is taking place below.

      Designed by renowned architects Michaelis Boyd, the hotel’s interiors reflect the rich cinematic history of the surrounding area. Each room features 1950s film icons with black and white Art Deco interiors and soft teal, grey and beige furnishings. Portraits of the stars of 1950s black and white movie feature in the hotel’s corridors, while silent movies will be projected in the lift and lobby. The hotel also offers the opportunity for guests to film their stay in London, which will be professionally edited to create their own movie.

      Located on the ground floor, the hotel features restaurant Petit Bistro which offers French-inspired cuisine using local produce and an extensive list of cocktails.

      Victory House Hotel, London Leicester SquareEach MGallery has a unique story to tell and a deep-rooted local history. Victory House’s 19th century terracotta façade is one example of the hotel’s rich heritage and its status as an unwavering icon within the ever-evolving Leicester Square. Designed and built in early French Renaissance style in 1898, by leading theatre designer Walter Emden, Victory House was previously known as Hôtel de l’Europe, with a Parisian brasserie renowned in its heyday as a popular dining spot in the West End.


      MGallery will expand its collection with captivating new hotels in the coming months including MGallery Doha, Qatar; MGallery Tarcin in Sarajevo and MGallery Istanbul, Turkey.


      Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour opens

      Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour opens

      1000 611 Daniel Fountain

      The much-anticipated Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour has opened its doors, making it the first new-build, international luxury hotel to open in Sydney’s CBD this millennium.

      Centrally located opposite the International Convention Centre, the AUS$500m (£281 million) Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour will play a major role in the ongoing revitalisation of the vibrant Darling Harbour precinct. It also heralds the renaissance of new hotel development in Sydney, with over 40 hotels scheduled to open in the next five years to support the city’s tourism growth.

      The hotel will offer 590 stylish guestrooms including 35 coveted suites, boasting some of the best views in Sydney. All the hotel’s guest rooms feature the Sofitel MyBed™ and floor-to-ceiling windows with views of Darling Harbour and the city. The suites feature an in-bathroom television, double shower heads and luxurious soaking tubs for the ultimate pampering experience.

      The Bellerive suite is the hotel’s pinnacle of accommodation and features a separate living room, dining room and butler’s pantry. Exclusive to guests staying in the Club Sofitel rooms and suites on levels 28 – 34, the Club Millesime Lounge, located at the very top of the hotel on level 35 will offer breathtaking views over Darling Harbour and the city.

      Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour opensThe hotel was designed by renowned multi award-winning Sydney architect Richard Francis-Jones from Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp architects. Dreamtime Australia Design and the A+ Design Group all collaborated to create this visually inspiring property which was built by Lend Lease.

      On arrival, guests will be greeted by the hotel’s imposing 35-storey glass exterior featuring triangular accents representing sails and a striking red ochre and blue exterior colour palette which pays tribute to the indigenous clans of the Eora nation who lived around Tumbalong – the name given to Darling Harbour. A stylish porte-cochere leads guests inside the building. The hotel’s public spaces and guestrooms continue to pay tribute to the maritime location and the industries that formerly occupied the site including extensive use of timber representing Sydney’s strong wharf heritage through to the rope and sandstone motifs in the carpets.

      While recognising the links to the location’s history, the hotel’s cutting-edge design places it squarely at the centre of Darling Harbour’s future. Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour will meet sustainability targets as part of a transformed tourism precinct with a 6-star green rating, as well as feature spectacular external lighting to enhance Darling Harbour at night with 6000 LED lights providing Sydney with stunning light displays.


      Sofitel London Gatwick

      Sofitel London Gatwick unveils first phase of refurbishment

      1000 642 Daniel Fountain

      Luxury airport hotel Sofitel London Gatwick has undergone an extensive refurbishment of all its restaurants and bars. The work, which cost just shy of £1 million, marks the completion of the first phase of a larger refurbishment project at the hotel.

      The refurbishment took three months to complete and includes the hotel’s two AA-rosette La Brasserie restaurant, the more informal Le Café, the hotel’s two bars – La Terrasse and Kua bar – plus the executive lounge.

      Sofitel London GatwickThe team at Sofitel London Gatwick worked with Grove Developments and the Group’s Interior Designer, Martin Farrow, to achieve the new look, which features all new interior décor, furniture and fittings in a modern contemporary style. It has also increased the number of restaurants covers 90 to 126. The seven two bedroom suites and the Club Millesime were also refurbished at the same time for a fresh contemporary look.

      Sofitel London GatwickGloby Ouseph, General Manager, said: “We’re delighted with the results of our refurbishment, which has completely transformed the appearance of our entire food and beverage offering. Grove Developments and Martin Farrow have done a fantastic job and the result has completely exceeded all our expectations.”

      Sofitel London Gatwick
      Surinder Arora, Founder and Chairman of Arora Group, said: “We are committed to a continuous programme of development across all the hotels within the Arora Group, to ensure that we continue to deliver the very best quality experience for all our guests. The refurbishment at Sofitel London Gatwick has been completed to an exceptionally high standard, and we are thrilled with the result.”

      The 4-star Sofitel London Gatwick is uniquely located within Gatwick Airport, directly linked to the North Terminal and minutes away from the South Terminal by Monorail. Conveniently located for business meetings, there are 11 different meeting rooms and 518 bedrooms.



      Victory House, London Leicester Square – MGallery by Sofitel

      Victory House, London Leicester Square – MGallery by Sofitel

      1000 667 Daniel Fountain

      Victory House, London Leicester Square – MGallery By Sofitel is set to soft launch in August 2017 with the official opening in September 2017.

      Overlooking London’s famous Leicester Square, Victory House offers 86 stylish and contemporary bedrooms which are sound-proofed for a cosy, boutique hotel experience. The property’s unparalleled location provides guests with privileged access to the capital’s world-renowned cinema scene and a front row seat to Leicester Square’s film premieres in the heart of the West End.

      Located on the ground floor, the hotel will feature restaurant Petit Bistro which offers French-inspired cuisine using local produce and cocktails. Led by acclaimed restaurateurs, Ed Baines and Jamie Poulton (founders of Randall and Aubin), Petit Bistro offers chic, modern dining in an informal setting. Petit Bistro provides alfresco dining in the summer months, making it the perfect spot to relax and watch the world go by.

      Victory House, London Leicester Square – MGallery by Sofitel
      The hotel is within walking distance of Soho, Covent Garden, Piccadilly Circus and St. James, as well as London’s key historic landmarks such as the National Gallery and Somerset House. Designed by renowned architects Michealis Boyd, who have previously worked with Soho House Group to create lavish interiors for Soho Farmhouse and Babington House, the hotel’s rich cinematic history has been meticulously integrated into the design. Each room features 1950s film icons with black and white art deco interiors and soft teal, grey and beige furnishings, to create a quiet haven in the buzz of London’s cinema district. Black and white 1950s movie stars feature in the hotel’s corridors, as well as silent 1950s movies that are projected in the lift and lobby.

      The building’s 19th century terracotta façade showcases the hotel’s rich heritage as a historic icon within the ever-evolving Leicester Square. Originally designed and built in the early French Renaissance style in 1898 by leading theatre designer Walter Emden, Victory House was previously known as Hôtel de l’Europe with a Parisian brasserie renowned as a popular dining spot in the West End.

      Victory House, London Leicester Square – MGallery by SofitelVictory House, London Leicester Square is managed by Bespoke Hotels, owned by Criterion Capital and represents a new flagship for MGallery and its fifth property in the UK.

      Michael North, Head of Hotels at Criterion Capital, commented on the opening: “We are proud to be working with Accor on our first hotel opening of the year. For this prime location, it was essential for us to partner with a brand that offered a strong global presence without sacrificing our objectives to create an original and innovative hotel experience. MGallery By Sofitel offers us the flexibility we needed to create memorable stays for our guests in a boutique environment. This opening is a significant strategic investment for Criterion Capital. We have a series of hotels scheduled to open in rapid succession across Prime Central London.”

      Aiden McAuley, SVP Operations LUXE Europe at Accorhotels, said: “Victory House, London Leicester Square is the latest addition to the MGallery portfolio and a new flagship hotel for the brand. With its rich heritage and unparalleled views overlooking London’s cinematic hub, the property provides a unique offering in the heart of the West End and a cosy retreat in the buzz of the city. This year will also see the wider expansion of the brand with new openings in Europe and the Middle East.”


      Luang Prabang Sofitel

      Sofitel: History, heritage and French hospitality in Laos

      1000 649 Daniel Fountain

      Expansion in Asia continues with the launch of the latest flagship from Sofitel in the World heritage city of Luang Prabang in April. This century-year-old former governor’s mansion, protected by UNESCO, has now been restored to its full grandeur and majesty.

      Heritage and modern comfort
      Set in a lush tropical garden, the highly exclusive Sofitel Luang Prabang offers 25 clay-roofed suites, ranging from 46 to 120 square metres, each with a private garden, oversized bathtub or plunge pool.

      Luang Prabang Sofitel
      Shuttered windows, hand-carved poster bed frames and exquisite Lao artefacts create a sense of old-world nostalgia. Each room is furnished with the latest amenities such as flat-screen televisions, Wi-Fi and the signature plush Sofitel ‘MyBed’. The hotel also houses a gallery of Indochinese art and a magnificent library with one of Luang Prabang’s largest book collections.

      “What guests will find most captivating at Sofitel Luang Prabang is the fusion that occurs on so many levels,” says General Manager Pablo Barruti. “Heritage is married with modern comfort. And the enduring tranquillity, both within the verdant gardens and just outside in the serene residential quarter, will appeal to guests in search of refuge in this age of sensory overload.”

      Luang Prabang Sofitel
      Serenity and relaxation

      The beautiful SoSPA offers treatments blending ancient Lao healing techniques with local organic products and advanced skin care.

      As part of the hotel’s sustainable development initiatives, the spa offers ‘Blind Massages’ by disabled therapists, slightly more vigorous and intense than usual due to their heightened senses. Guests can also opt for yoga and pilates classes, take a dip in the 25-metre mosaic-tiled pool, or work out on the TechnoGym at the Fitness Centre.

      Luang Prabang Sofitel
      The Governor’s Grill proposes a delicious blend of fine western gastronomy and authentic Lao specialities. Guests can dine indoors or al fresco in a colonial-style tent overlooking the garden. The hotel Concierge can also arrange lunch at the award-winning 3 Nagas Restaurant at its recently renovated sister property in the city, 3 Nagas, MGallery by Sofitel.

      MGallery by Sofitel

      AccorHotels’ MGallery expands to Paris, Rio de Janeiro

      998 456 Daniel Fountain

      AccorHotels has expanded the MGallery by Sofitel brand with the opening of Hotel Paris Bastille Boutet in the French capital’s 11th district near Le Marais, as well as Hotel Santa Teresa in Rio de Janeiro.

      Hotel Paris Bastille Boutet, the first five-star hotel in Eastern Paris, located in the Bastille neighborhood, is housed in a building that was first a joinery workshop and then a chocolate factory known as “Maison Boutet,” according to the company. Vincent Bastie served as the project’s architect, while Astrid Dieterlen led the design.

      An emphasis was placed on the renovation of mosaics and the Art Deco canopy. The building’s facade, dating back to 1926, was restored while its industrial heritage is seen in the lobby bar’s leather sofas and in the well-being area with its white and blue glazed tiles.

      MGallery by Sofitel in ParisThe hotel has 80 guestrooms and suites. Paying homage to the hotel’s past as a place of craftsmanship, students from the École Boulle, an advanced public school of fine arts and crafts and applied arts, were selected to produce two signature suites, each with its own atmosphere. The 1,600-sq. ft., light-drenched Décléor Spa is dedicated to meditation and relaxation. The spa features an indoor pool with jets, steam room, sauna and two hydrotherapy showers.

      Hotel Santa Teresa is the first MGallery by Sofitel in Brazil. According to Accor, the property showcases architecture preserved by the neo-modernist and eclectic colonial culture of Rio. The revitalisation of the surrounding neighborhood began a decade ago with the restoration of the hotel and helped to support sustainable and cultural tourism to the destination, according to the company.

      MGallery by Sofitel in Rio de Janiero
      The brand will continue its momentum with the openings of Palazzo Livorno MGallery by Sofitel in Italy’s Tuscany region this summer and Leicester Square MGallery by Sofitel in London is expected to open fall 2016.

      Sofitel Tamuda Bay

      Sofitel Tamuda Bay Hotel launches on Morocco’s riviera

      1000 619 Daniel Fountain

      May saw the launch of Sofitel’s new 5 star beachfront hotel in Morocco. Stunning architecture, award-winning contemporary design and Arty-Chic atmosphere are set to make Sofitel Tamuda Bay Beach & Spa undisputed leader in the Kingdom’s most exclusive coastal resort.

      Celebrating the Riviera lifestyle
      For guests seeking the perfect blend of leisure and wellbeing, the Sofitel Tamuda Bay Beach & Spa offers 82 chic light-filled and intensely colorful guestrooms, all with private balcony and magnificent views of the Mediterranean gardens, pool and beach.

      Sofitel Tamuda Bay

      To celebrate the Riviera in style, the hotel proposes the Royal Suite, five Junior suites, three So Spa Suites, five signature villas and eight Beach suites with private terrace and jacuzzi.

      French art and Moroccan tradition
      Sofitel chose French-Lebanese architect Galal Mahmoud to create Tamuda Bay’s award-winning design, strongly inspired by French Riviera glamour of the 1950s and ‘Fauviste’ artists (including Matisse and Rouault).

      Striking contemporary architecture is combined with Moroccan influences, seen in geometric motifs and modern reinterpretation of traditional Mashrabiya latticework.

      Sofitel Tamuda Bay

      SoSPA: an oasis of calm and wellbeing

      Guests can unwind and chill in the new SoSPA, a vast 1259 sq. metres space entirely dedicated to relaxation. Decorated in warm colours, the Spa offers authentic hammam rituals, sauna, unique hydrotherapy, beauty and detox treatments plus relaxation area. Fitness fans can test the latest So FIT exercise machines and the heated swimming pool.


      Sofitel, St. James’s (Patrick Goff)

      270 150 Daniel Fountain

      I have reviewed a Sofitel before – the Sofitel Hamburg. It was an hotel I found very difficult to like; the décor was cool and minimalist, grey and indeterminate, lacking (it seemed to me) in the air of opulence and luxury that I expect from a five star hotel. Having designed such establishments, I know the kind of design cues needed to create the right ambience, and as Hamburg fell short, I had mixed expectations of the St. James’s property.

      The location is right at the bottom of Waterloo Place, close to the Institute of Directors and in the heart of London. The building used to be a bank and it has a good street presence, fitting for a 5 star hotel. From the outside at least I was not disappointed, its late Victorian portico entrance an agreeable part of the mosaic of grandeur that makes up this area of town.

      Looking to the side of the lobby opposite the Reception desk, towards the restaurant and bar – click tosee the nicely done reception desk

      “…rather than associate itself with Waterloo – a name unacceptable to the French…”

      I’ve always thought of St. James’s as the part further down, around the palace, but the hotel adopts that name rather than associate itself with Waterloo – a name unacceptable to the French even today – or with, perhaps, Haymarket and its theatres. Haymarket and its link with the theatrical demi-monde is perhaps too louche for the kind of associations the hotel wants in defining its luxury appeal to its desired clientèle. Instead, the operator creates its own sense of upmarket theatre.

      Starting with the smart, smiling, top-hatted doorman, the sense of theatre is enhanced by a glass screen inside the doors. Illuminated, passing this allows the guest to experience the revelation of the lobby as if a stage curtain had been raised.

      The reception desk is on one side, the splendidly design restaurant on the other behind an informal service desk. An exhibition of slightly kitsch decorative sculpture in the lobby was stopped from dominating by a very theatrical floral display. The theatricality was reinforced in the evening by the introduction of candle lanterns, the normal lighting being subtly adjusted.

      The screen inside the front door acts as a sound and draught baffle. Internally lit the script details the history of the building, Click to see the impressive exterior from Waterloo Place