London-based interior design practice, Studio Proof, is undertaking the most comprehensive refurbishment of the Lancaster London hotel in decades, raising it to a new level of luxury and justifying the reinstatement of ‘Royal’ in its name when the project is complete.
Studio Proof’s Role
Beginning with the brand in 2013, Studio Proof led a review of the current positioning and perceptions of the hotel and the aspirations of the owner. This resulted in the creation of a new brand identity fashioned through a series of stakeholder workshops that then allowed development of a new brand pyramid and set of core values, along with name generation, and identity design that paved the way for the design brief. Studio Proof went on to refurbish all 411 bedrooms and suites across the 15 guestroom floors, re-modelling a number on the higher floors to achieve exceptionally spacious suites. The hotel has remained open throughout necessitating rigorous on-site planning. All guestroom floors, including lift lobbies, will be complete this September.
Meanwhile, Studio Proof is also transforming the public areas. This part of the project includes a significant architectural intervention to create a dramatic new entrance façade and reception lobby, new ground level F&B areas and lounges, a new reception area for the hotel’s large Nine King’s banqueting suite, the creation of a new all-day dining restaurant on the first floor and the re-design of the adjacent bar. These works will be completed in April 2018.
The Guestroom Concept – Overview
This draws on the building’s mid-20th century heritage and celebrates its location overlooking both Hyde Park and the city. Housed within the Royal Lancaster London tower, which rises above the lower levels of the public areas to an impressive 18 floors, the higher guestroom levels have undergone significant architectural interventions in order to accommodate more spacious 30 sqm and 40 sqm rooms and a higher number of premium suites, ranging from 50 sqm to an expansive 80 sqm on the top floor.
The designers have taken inspiration from the truly exceptional panoramas, of the city in one direction and Hyde Park in the other, and a focus has been on framing these views to create a guest experience memorable for its connection with London. Windowsills have been lowered and curtains replaced by two sets of blinds – one blackout and one privacy – to leave views unobstructed. Studio Proof also made the decision to resize the doors, widening them so that guests are immediately confronted with the spectacular vistas, creating a striking first impression and a sense of greater space.
The décor across floors three to 17 is light and restrained. Lime-washed pale oak and textured neutrals pervade, creating bright and calming spaces that are enlivened by regimented accents of colour, which recall the scenery. The North facing “City Rooms” are punctuated with deep yellows and mustard tones, whilst the “Park Rooms” are infused with muted sages and pastel greens. On the 18th top floor, which accommodates the largest suites, the palette becomes richer. American walnut replaces the pale oak and rooms are dressed in deep teals, petrol blues and suave cognac tans.
Classic View Room
Originally conceived as an office and leisure development by architect Richard Seifert and converted into a hotel in 1967, the previous guestrooms had continued to have vestiges of their 20th Century designs. Without actually changing the relatively small footprint of the standard rooms, Studio Proof’s redesign transforms them through masterful planning and sophisticated furnishing choices into rooms full of light and sense of space.
An in-built lime-washed oak desk extends across half the width of the window-lined wall, its frame dropping down to form a daybed that stretches to the other side of the room, making full use of this otherwise dead space. The daybed is upholstered in plush Fox Linton mohair velvet, inviting city weary occupants to lounge amongst lush Dedar and Zimmer & Rohde fabric covered cushions and enjoy the view. Wooden panelling continues from here, encircling the room to create visual continuity, blends with console tables made from the same oak and finished with smart bronze detailing. The bedside and coffee tables are made from lacquered metal and bespoke mirrored glass with a delicate inlay of silk organza, giving an eye-catching sheen to the surfaces and softly reflecting the light from the mid-century inspired pendants and wall lamps, custom-made by Heathfield & Co.
The decision was made to remove most of the baths in the bathrooms of the 320 Classic View rooms and replace them with power showers. The showers themselves have been enclosed in frameless glass to open up the space. Sleek white carrara marble lines the walls and vanity surfaces, providing a dynamic contrast to the granite grey tiles in the shower area, whilst wooden drawers link back to the guestroom décor.
Park and Spire Suites
Similar in style to the Classic View rooms, the 15 Park and five Spire Suites sit at opposite ends of the tower, facing Hyde Park and the city respectively. The beauty of their positioning means that they each benefit from dual or treble aspects as well as substantially more square meterage. Running from floor three to 17, the impressive 55 sqm Park Suites each offer a view with a room, presenting guests with spectacular panoramas from a retreat of ultimate comfort and luxury. The scenes through the windows in the bedroom are reflected in the large sweeping mirror behind the king size bed, bringing the location into the space. Lime-washed pale oak panelling is prevalent in both the bedroom and separate living area. A contemporary Moooi chandelier suggests the branches of a tree, throwing dappled light across the metal and glass table below. This shimmer is echoed in the rich velvets of the two bespoke sofas. Beautiful modern metal and marble coffee and side tables complete the seated space, illuminated by tree-like brass framed lamps.
While the 47 m² Spire Suites – so called because ten church spires are visible from them – are equally notable for their sophisticated style, the scheme takes its cue from the “City Rooms” palette of mustards and dark yellows. Artwork is more metropolitan than in the Park Suites and this style is also reflected in the selection of the mathematically spherical ‘Raimond’ chandelier by Moooi.
Kensington and Serpentine Signature Suites
Situated on the top floor, the two expansive 69 sqm and 83 sqm signature suites sit at each end of the tower. These are the jewels in the crown with huge windows along the three exterior walls. In both, dark American walnut panelling extends from floor-to-ceiling creating a rich backdrop for the sumptuous Zimmer & Rohde teal velvet seating whilst objet d’art fill cabinetry recesses and give the spaces a high-end yet comfortably residential feel. Positioned near to the in-built desk in the Kensington Suite, mid-Century style Vitra tan leather chairs encircle a Knoll glass and metal table, illuminated by a Raimond light from Moooi. This arrangement creates a debonair office space within the sizeable living area.
In the bedroom, textured grey Holly Hunt fabric headboard with lacquered metal detailing add further elegance, whilst panelled mirrors behind the headboard reflect the phenomenal panorama visible through the walls of windows.
In Serpentine Suite is the larger of the two and is equally as highly appointed and plush. A mirror lines the wall next to the glass topped, bronze dining table, making the vast area appear even larger and reflecting the panorama visible out of the adjacent windows.
The size, views and bespoke design cumulate to produce the hotel’s most luxurious accommodation. This can be further magnified since the new plan means that many more of the guestrooms can now be interconnected to a substantial multi-room suite arrangement.
Lifts, Lobbies and Corridors
Lift interiors and lobbies have been upgraded to correspond with the elevated décor elsewhere in the hotel. A fifth lift has also been installed to better deal with the influx of conference guests during the hotel’s busy seasons.
Design is used thoughtfully to support the guest experience in the bedroom corridors of this large hotel. Doors are grouped together in sets of four, with a pair facing another on the opposite side. Both the doors and the in-fill panels around them are finished in light oak, in contrast to the darker wall coverings between the sets. By highly illuminating these areas, the rooms are signposted as pause points, whilst the rest of the corridor remains dark, subconsciously encouraging people to talk more quietly and leaving guests undisturbed.
David Morris, creative director at Studio Proof, said:
“This has been a great ‘hotel design‘ journey. Our client invited us into the process at the earliest opportunity and allowed us to lead them through clarifying the brand and into a major programme of architectural and interior design work, reinventing the hotel for the 21st century guest. The owner has been bold and financially committed, and we have every hope that the completed project will repay the faith he has put in us.”