InterContinental London - The O2, London, UK

The InterContinental London - The O2 stands out in the buzzing Greenwich Peninsula, with 453 luxury rooms, a beauty spa and a ballroom for up to 3,000 guests. Hotel Spec’s Can Faik speaks to G1 Design, the interior designers behind this amazing project...

Boasting stunning views of the city from a exceptional perspective – from both the rooms as well as the public areas – the hotel opens and celebrates the location, made famous more recently in popular culture from the iconic landmark, the O2 Arena and opposite, Canary Wharf.

G1 Design were responsible for the hotel’s interior design including the lobby, reception, restaurants and bars (including The Peninsula restaurant, Market Brasserie, Clipper Bar, Meridian Lounge and Eighteen sky bar) the conference centre including the Arora Ballroom and pre-function areas, as well as the Executive Lounge and The Spa. “We were engaged to come up with interior design concepts, and because of its location, we put forward the maritime theme. The main challenge was the timescale because we started on the project quite late, but completed by the dates that we originally promised. Our designs, themes and concepts for the hotel were well received.” explains Gordon Pickering, Senior Partner G1 Design.

The main lobby is the hub of the hotel. It is a ‘lighthouse’ or safe haven for guests to return to again and again while they make their own journeys around the many areas of the building. Look closely and you will see the ‘deconstructed lighthouse lens’ on the feature wall. Navigation and maritime details play a dominant role in the interiors with bronze detailing in the furniture, maps and compass references throughout. A large brass-detailed pattern within the stone floor crafted to show a compass sets the tone.

The 453-room InterContinental London – The O2 brings a new level of glamour to cosmopolitan guests seeking to enjoy the allure of global etiquette, timeless experiences, and the city’s local heritage. Alongside its five destination-inspired food and beverage outlets including The Peninsula Restaurant and rooftop sky bar, the hotel boasts a world-class health spa and sumptuous accommodation – including 59 suites – and the most breath-taking views over London.

The rooms continue to explore the maritime theme, with some featuring a large nautical-themed map of the Thames and compass references displayed above the large bed. The spectacular views can be privately captured through floor-to-ceiling windows. “The theme continues throughout the hotel. We have used a lot of artwork and sketch-styled drawings in the maritime theme in the guestrooms and suites. Also the fabrics are silky representing the theme further.” explains Monika Mockute, interior designer G1 Design.

G1 Design’s founder, Gordon Pickering speaks to Hotel Spec editor Can Faik about InterContinental London - The O2...

Tell me about your role on Intercontinental O2, – what was it like working on the hotel?
I had a dedicated and experienced team working on the project which always makes life a bit easier! They worked very closely with the Client and Operator to ensure brand standards were met and harmonised with the building, already under construction, and with the Clients requirements. My role was purely management ensuring that deliverables and timescales were met.

Why do you think your company was awarded the project?
We had completed the refurbishment of the Renaissance Hotel at Heathrow for the Client, which was well received, and he asked us to look at the public areas for the InterContinental Hotel, and it escalated from there.

What was the inspiration behind the design concept of Intercontinental O2?
The inspiration was the historic location of the site on the river Thames and the docklands. We wanted to reflect these journeys and trading routes to and from London bringing back spices, porcelain and fabrics. Navigation and maritime details play a major part of the concept.

How long did it take to bring this project from concept to completion?
For us, as we came on board very late in the process, as the building was already under construction, it was about 12 months.

How many people did you work with on the design project?
Internally, at its peak, there were 5 designers working on the project.

What was the highlight of the project for you?
Seeing the Clients aspirations come to reality and the completed spaces looking as we intended in the original concepts.

Were there any particular challenges? If so, what were they?
Without doubt the timescale was the biggest challenge

How important do you feel hotel design has become when launching a new hotel?
It’s essential because without a strong conceptual inspiration from the beginning the end product will have no cohesive feel.

Have you noticed any particular trends in hotel design?
Hotel lobbies have changed. They are now fully function spaces which have to earn their keep. They now seamlessly connect to F&B areas and serve to provide guests with a multi-functional experience where they can work, eat, meet, shop and catch up on emails etc. They are now not just a place to arrive but a place to hang out and stay.

How important are public spaces in hotels?
Designers have to be creative with space planning of public spaces and provide functional and comfortable furniture, fixtures and equipment. Public spaces will be open all day and the must adapt from morning to evening.

What makes G1 Architecture different to other design companies?
I believe all design companies aspire for the same end result namely creating spaces which provide a memorable guest experience and enhance the operator efficiency. If you are successful in this objective, one hopes that the guest will check in again.

How would you define your ‘Hotel Style’?
We don’t have a style. We feel it is always a collaborative process and place importance on listening to our Clients and Operators direction. Our projects are international with different cultures, climate etc, so having a style would not be appropriate as each design responds to its location.

What’s next for you and your team?
Currently we are working on new projects in Uganda, Nairobi and Ethiopia.

What would be your dream hotel project?
Resort Hotels, no matter where they are, are always a delight and pleasure to work on.

Which hotel would you most like to stay in?
I would take my family to the Geoffrey Bawa Hotel in Ahungalla, Sri Lanka.


InterContinental London - The O2, London, UK