The Gallery HBA recently designed the new interiors of the public areas at London's Grosvenor House, a JW Marriott Hotel. The legendary property's flamboyant, star-studded heritage has been imaginatively revived through a refurbishment aimed at creating the next chapter in the extraordinary story of Grosvenor House. The new interiors celebrate the hotel's rich history whilst enhancing its "sense of place" with the neighboring Hyde Park and transforming the public areas into a destination in their own right.
Design details tell the hotel's story as a stage for fabulous balls and significant historical moments, its connection with the early days of glamorous transatlantic travel, and its reputation for extravagant style and theatre with a whiff of the scandalous. The result are interiors which feel English in taste but with contemporary twists.
The Gallery HBA has enhanced the hotel's connection with its magnificent setting, opening up the large ground floor to views towards Hyde Park and infusing the design with delightful references to the natural world outside. Now, no other London hotel has such an immediate relationship with the city's most famous park. Grosvenor House has become, in effect, a grand promenade from the fashionable streets of Mayfair to the green expanse of Hyde Park.
The ground floor transformation is apparent from the moment guests arrive through the main entrance on Park Street. The most significant change of all is the replacement of a traditional fireplace with one encased in a floor to ceiling glass surround, the warm flames drawing guests in and the spectacular transparent frame capturing the next stage of the ground floor and the vista of the park beyond.
The dark timber panelling and conventional grandeur of the previous lobby have gone, to be replaced by an elegant, more feminine lightness of touch. A pale crema marfil marble floor with brass inlaid detailing conveys contemporary glamour, the reception desks have a mirrored glass façade and walls are clad in rich fabric. Antiqued mirror to the columns and ceiling reflects light and movement. The lobby design in particular plays with the theatrical and risqué history of the hotel - the days of the 'Grosvenor Gaieties' and the famous Grosvenor House Girls - with abstracted feather motifs in the carpet and a staggered backdrop to the reception desks which suggests the wings of a stage.
The Park Room has been opened up to clearly become the social hub of Grosvenor House - a large and sophisticated lounge transitioning through morning coffee to afternoon tea and evening cocktails. The floorplan now flows harmoniously from the fireplace through to The Library, a stepped area that was previously a separate room, and into the main space, all connected by an adjacent promenade which leads to the Park Lane entrance. Seating clusters for 15-20 guests in the library space can be partitioned by draw curtains for small private gatherings, thus enabling a greater variety of events whilst also increasing the sense of exclusivity.
The new design of The Park Room is graceful and refined. On the floor, pale oak is laid herringbone fashion and combined with an inset hand-tufted rug that has been custom-designed to suggest reflections of leaves caught in watery sunshine. The color palette is fresh and belongs to the park - sharp greens, grays and cream predominate. Both the bar and tables as well as the central patisserie display table are topped in Damasco White marble, an elegant green-veined white marble, while deep buttoning, not only to the upholstered sofas and chairs but to the fabric covered walls in part of the room confer a luxuriant and intimate feel.
The Park Room creates a "sense of place" in terms of both location and heritage. The room is animated with many delightful references to parkland life, such as a collection of hundreds of white glass butterflies that form the central chandelier and numerous glass cloches that display insects and butterflies from the park. These are combined with books and various ephemera that hint at scandalous doings past as well as the glory days when Grosvenor House's de Havilland won "the most spectacular" air race from England to Australia and debutantes danced at Queen Charlotte's Ball.
Inspired by the ice skating rink which Grosvenor House once accommodated, The Gallery has designed a stunning carpet for the ballroom that swirls through the space like grooves cut through ice. Custom-designed lights suggest blocks of ice and the palette is of soft grays, blues and white.
The powder rooms are an extremely glamorous combination of black and cream marble, deep buttoned velvet upholstered seating and classic fittings and features. They might just be the backstage dressing rooms of the leading man and lady.
Photos: Grosvenor House