The Beaumont hotel designed by ReardonSmith Architects has now opened. For this first hotel from esteemed restaurateurs Jeremy King and Chris Corbin, the architects have transformed an Art Deco era garage in London’s Mayfair into an intimate destination redolent with the style of a fine and very comfortable 1920s establishment.
ReardonSmith’s collaboration with Jeremy King and Chris Corbin extends back over a number of years, initially, assisting the partners in their search for a suitable London property. Then in 2008, Grosvenor approached Corbin & King to participate in a limited competition for the development into a hotel of the then Avis Rent-A-Car garage, originally built in 1926, and the project was born. At this early stage, it was fundamental in the thinking of all parties concerned that public art should be an integral part of the building and this became a key principle of the ReardonSmith scheme which won the competition. Following further discussions, Antony Gormley was commissioned to create an inhabitable sculpture which will be open to the public on certain designated days each year.
From the beginning, ReardonSmith worked closely with City of Westminster planners, English Heritage and local residents groups. The existing building needed to be extended to create a commercially viable hotel and the architects developed several options for review. The final scheme involved a sensitive extension to the existing north wing of the building, as well as two additional floors on the roof and two new basement levels. These interventions have achieved space for a total of 73 guestrooms and suites, the Colony Grill Room and American bar, a separate residents’ lounge, a small private dining room and a spa with hammam, hot stone platform, cold plunge pool and a gym. Key to the chosen scheme is that the roof extension is clearly a modern intervention which does not attempt to copy the existing façade yet is sympathetic to it. Internally, works have included the entire removal of the structure behind the retained façade, which was suspended and restrained by temporary steelwork towers during demolition and reconstruction.
All the fenestration is new with crittall-style windows custom-designed to match to look of the original windows while significantly improving their security, thermal and acoustic qualities. Four magnificent Art Deco style lamps on the front elevation are faithful replicas of the original lamps and the defining black iron balustrading to level four of the building – previously the top floor – has been restored. The façade was repaired and re-painted.
The ground floor plan is on a simple axis. On arrival, guests are able to see immediately the flow of spaces before them, from entrance hall to bar and through to the restaurant and, to one side, the concierge and reception, with the staircase behind sweeping down to the spa and private dining room below. The private residents’ lounge is at the other end of the lobby.
Guestrooms are discreetly glamorous and enriched by Art Deco features. Attention to detail was an absolute rule – from the design of the ceiling cornice in the bedrooms to the tone of the glass bathroom tiles and the traditional bronze light switches. In most of the rooms, a sliding timber-veneered door can be drawn across the bedroom area to provide complete privacy from the bathroom and the entrance lobby, where the wardrobes are located, thus converting this zone into a dressing room. The one- bedroom Presidential Suite on the new fifth floor has been designed to open up to adjoining rooms and even extend across the entire floor to become a magnificent five-bedroom suite. From its large terrace looking towards the historic patchwork of Mayfair’s roofs and gardens, guests experience a very special connection with the city past and present.
ReardonSmith worked closely with Antony Gormley, his design team and his specialist engineer to realise the sculpture. Named ROOM, the monumental form “crouches” against the façade of the building and rises 10 metres from its second floor rooftop podium. Both work of art and an architectural extension to the hotel, inside ROOM is an extraordinary bedroom forming part of a suite. The welded metal sculpture weighs 34 tonnes and consideration had to be given to determining the best load- bearing structure which would allow for marginal movement over time. The architectural team also travelled to Germany’s Black Forest with Antony Gormley to select each oak plank for the internal cladding and was closely involved in the interior design detailing to help realise the artist’s ambition. In the course of the project, two mock-ups, one full-scale, were built to test the spatial arrangement and check for any possible light or noise encroachment into the sculpture.
Patrick Reardon, Executive Chairman of ReardonSmith Architects, said:
“It has been an absolute joy to work with Corbin & King, our client Grosvenor who was the developer and Antony Gormley in what has been a very creative process for both the designers and the architects.”
“We all shared a single vision and brought our individual skills and experience to the task of realising this vision. I think the result is a unique and timeless hotel as well as a truly exciting new landmark in Mayfair.”