The first Unbound Collection by Hyatt Hotels in the UK
Tradition and history meet present-day luxury in the design of the hotly anticipated Great Scotland Yard Hotel.
Once the famous and historical site of London’s Metropolitan Police headquarters, Ministry of Defence and palace housing Scottish royalty, the 1820s listed building’s latest chapter is a 152-room luxury boutique hotel, reminiscent of a country estate, in which the notorious stories of the landmark’s past unfold through exquisitely sculpted interiors and eclectic decorative elements.
The opening of Great Scotland Yard Hotel in December follows a major restoration and full-scale renovation that breathed new life into one of London’s famous landmarks as it opens to the public for the first time in nearly two hundred years.
With architecture by award-winning London-based firm, EPR, The Great Scotland Yard project first started with plans being drawn up in 2008 where the team was appointed to produce the design and subsequent planning information pack for converting the famous building into a hotel. Planning consent was initially achieved in 2012 with further consents granted in 2016 to vary the number of rooms incorporated with final completion of the project in December 2019. “There were a number of challenges and opportunities the team encountered on the project that the brief and locality demanded and that helped to shape the final scheme,” says Gisselle Shelton, leading the architectural design for EPR on the project. “As a team it was important for us to deliver a heritage led architectural design that enhanced the character of the Conservation Area integrating the adjoining Georgian Grade II listed townhouse.” EPR successfully worked closely with the Conservation Officers at Westminster City Council and English Heritage to enable a sensitive conversion and extension which has preserved and enhanced the existing buildings. She adds, “The project was also technically challenging, the refurbishment of the main building involved the demolition of the entire existing internal structure whilst the retained façade was supported, the excavation of a three-storey basement was then carried out with the added complication of an existing BT tunnel running below the site. The three-storey basement enabled the provision of staff welfare, plant, back of house and conference facilities that support the food and beverage offers at ground floor and guest rooms at upper floors. The hotel capacity was further increased through the addition of a two-storey slate mansard, designed to be in keeping with the character of the existing building and roofscape.”
EPR worked closely with the consultants and, in particular the interior designers from acclaimed design firm Hirsch Bedner Associates (HBA), to maintain design integrity, relevance to context and luxury quality. Away from conventional hospitality codes, HBA designers elected to express the individuality of Great Scotland Yard through Edwardian-inspired hues and patterns, conventional Whitehall, and a burst of colour that relives the timeless elegance and sophistication of the era with a flair of contemporary details.
“This building is an icon hiding a century and more of dark and infamous secrets,” said HBA Partner David T’Kint. “We were challenged to keep the soul of the building and pay homage to its heritage rather than just bringing new life to old walls. Our design team created a destination that invites guests to experience the rich history of the building through new eyes as they enter a place where the past and present merge, to journey through various aspects of local culture, unlocking the secrets of the storied Great Scotland Yard along the way.”
Upon entering Great Scotland Yard’s inquiry room reception, guests are greeted by two desks crafted from antique luggage. The hotel entry steps down into the lounge, leading to an assemblage of social venues where a parlour, bar, restaurant and club room coexist in the company of a carefully curated collection of works by British artists.
The Yard, a modern British restaurant, transports guests to a comfortable countryside escape with barrelled ceilings, vintage lamps and millwork from Northern Ireland. Inspired by The Imperial hotel in Delhi, The Parlour is a warm setting for afternoon tea or cocktails with its classic colonial feel, black-and-white chequered flooring and oversized fireplace.
Hidden behind secret doors disguised in bookshelves is a portal to Sibín, Great Scotland Yard’s lucrative whiskey club. Whiskey-filled display cabinets sculpt the club into three spaces, rolling along the copper-leafed distressed wood floors, whilst a bar sits at the epicentre beneath a ceiling feature made of 1,935 bottles. The bar and lounge, The 40 Elephants, is named for the 19th and 20th century all-female London crime syndicate known for its longevity and skill in dodging police detection. A stunning glass chandelier composed of a series of broken glass pays tribute to the way the female gangsters would break into London-area stores. Buried in the centre of the installation is a jewel-tone necklace representing the members of the Forty Elephants gang. HBA designers further conveyed the spirit of the thieves through glass-engraved portraits hanging high on the walls.
In the guest rooms, a warm, neutral colour scheme along with bespoke wallcovering brings light to a British classic. Carpeting integrates the concepts of police badges and uniforms in a one-of-a-kind pattern whilst other nods to the London police include blue herringbone-patterned luggage rack walls and minibars set into a moulded TV wall showcasing a moustache. Furthering the ‘unlock the secret’ design narrative of Great Scotland Yard, HBA designers commissioned wardrobes concealed behind a bookcase-like façade and finishings such as robe hooks and nightstand handles shaped as keys. The close-quarters bathrooms tout sophisticated oversized showers, a custom-designed radiator towel rail and an enclosed washroom, all cladded with British tiles.
Great Scotland Yard also houses suites as an upgraded extension to the guest room experience complete with marble fireplaces, blue-veneered nightstands, luxurious bathrooms with book-matched stone and in some rooms, four-poster beds, and wonderful and creative custom lighting creations by Chelsom, including bespoke wall sconces, lamps, and pendants throughout the hotel.
No. 1 The Townhouse adjoins the Great Scotland Yard hotel, boasting original ceiling mouldings, wall profiles, doors and fireplaces complemented by new British nature-grade oak flooring, specially made carpeting and an eclectic array of furniture. Bathrooms are upgraded with a freestanding copper tub in front of the original fireplace, custom-designed vanity counter and freestanding mirror.
Located in the basement of the hotel is Grace and Favour. A modern take on the Whitehall tradition of ‘grace and favour’ residences offered in gratitude for services rendered, Great Scotland Yard’s Grace and Favour is a collection of apartment-style event spaces for working including a kitchen, lounge corner to relax, fitness room, LED wall screens for events and meetings, herringbone patterned floors, and wall panelling with a playful twist.
The project incorporates many sustainable design measures too with the re-use of the existing building’s brick and stone façade of the project a key design principle. Both the London stock brick of the Grade II listed townhouse, and the contrasting purple-brown brick, Portland stone masonry and the decorative red glazed bricks at ground level of the principle building were carefully cleaned, repaired and restored. The external walls were enhanced to achieve modern standards for acoustic and thermal performance. This imaginative repurposing provides a highly sustainable reuse of the building enhancing the buildings environmental credentials.
“The look and feel of the Great Scotland Yard Hotel draws on the extraordinary heritage of the buildings’ address,” says Gisselle Shelton. “Architecturally the buildings blend seamlessly within the townscape, repairing and enhancing the Conservation Area whilst returning the building to is original grandeur.” Internally the hotel is full of quirkiness, character and history that is quintessentially British and should provide a unique and distinctive experience for visitors, while the hotel reflects its position in history and re-engages with the local area and its diverse culture, becoming a key destination in Trafalgar Square.