Sheraton Grand London Park Lane
After a robust, two-year, multi-million pound refurbishment of this iconic Art-Deco Mayfair institution, the Sheraton Grand London Park Lane, reopened in October 2016, just in time to celebrate its 90th anniversary in January 2017. SPACE’s Tonje Odegard visited to see the incredible transformation…
Containing so much history within its walls, refurbishing the Sheraton Grand London Park Lane had to be done with the utmost respect for the building’s architecture and legacy. The careful, but substantial renovation and restoration of all 303 guestrooms, the restaurant, and all public areas, including the famous Palm Court Lounge, the Grade II listed Art Deco Ballroom and Silver Gallery, was carried out by London-based design studio MKV Design in collaboration with the Sheraton brand’s global design team. Staying true to the Art Deco interior that runs through the entire hotel, the new design has incorporated all the grandeur from the era while adding modern luxury to the mix.
The hotel, first opened in 1927, was the place to be for celebrities, socialites and the aristocracy during the twenties and thirties in London. The design for The Park Lane Hotel, as it was originally named, was born already in 1913. It then got nicknamed ‘The Birdcage’, as it was one of the first buildings in London to have a steel structure, and because the steel structure stood alone and abandoned during WWI, before construction recommenced in 1924. The hotel is now a Grade II listed building.
But 90 years has taken its toll and a revamp was much needed. Maria Vafiadis, Managing Director of MKV Design, said: “Our aim was to reinstate the spirit of the hotel from its 1920s heyday, elevating its glamorous Art Deco heritage and combining this with sophisticated yet inclusive new interiors.”
The exterior façade of the eight-storey hotel is constructed of Marmo-Faience, an artificial fireproof material that does not blacken, hence why the hotel is still white in colour today. The hotel’s mansard roof is a four-sided gambrel-style hip roof characterised by two-slopes on each of its sides.
Nothing has been done to the exterior, but internal reconfigurations have been carried out in order to increase practicality and flow from one area to the other.
For instance in the lobby, which has been entirely redesigned, new entrance doors and wall-to-wall windows have been put in. The 21 suites have also been reconfigured to maximise space and the Palm Court has been reorganised. A snug area around a new glass fireplace has replaced the original entrance to The Palm Court while two new doorways have been added to the sides. The lounge itself has been raised to form the centrepiece of the room.
The rooms have been entirely stripped back and redesigned, although retaining their original semblance, each being centred under a golden dome in the ceiling. The schemes are discreetly glamorous with art deco touches, for instance the sophisticated palette of materials in warm neutral tones, polished nickel finishes on furniture, bevelled mirror panel headboards, stand-out chandeliers and deco-inspired wall lights. Room décor harks back to the hotel’s location with the Dalmatian statuettes in the rooms reflecting the Green Park and the original 101 Dalmatians, where much of the book was set.
The bathrooms are equipped with generous showers and finished in classic black and white tiling. Bathroom fittings and lights also subtly refer to Art Deco, with for instance beautiful Carla Plus steel bathtubs from Roca and details in silver.
The Grand Suite is a statement of luxury. Furnishings are stylish and modern, yet also make a restrained reference to the building’s heritage, for example in the proportions and curved forms of the living area furniture, the polished Macassar ebony cabinetry, decorative light fittings and carpet designs. Finishes are of the finest quality, with Grade 1 European oak parquet flooring and luxurious hand-tufted rugs and a Chinoiserie-style wallpaper in the dining area. The main bathroom is an exceptional example of art deco design, with astonishing original marble finishes to the floor and a large restored bathtub.
For the lobby, the designers took inspiration from Eltham Palace as it was recreated in the 1930s with beautiful Art Deco interiors. Selected materials and individual design elements reflect this intent, for example the polished Travertine floor laid in a herringbone pattern and glossy Macassar ebony veneer cladding the walls.
A luxurious bespoke rug softens and demarcates the area, but making a rather grand statement in the centre of reception is the structural column that have been encased and clad in vertical sections of leatherette interspersed with nickel strips.
The refurbished Palm Court, truly the heart of the hotel, both physically and emotionally, is a bright, glamorous and vibrant area. The ‘Birdcage’ nickname originated here, as the steel frame formed the arches of the room. The raised lounge is surrounded by new, elegant Art Deco style balustrade. The magnificent, original stained glass ceiling, alongside classic Art Deco wall lighting, provides a wonderful golden glow over the sleek furniture, dramatic carpets and glossy tiles. The atmosphere is lively and inclusive, much helped by the lovely silver Art Deco motif printed on purple aluminium on the walls.
Ballroom and Function Rooms
The Silver Gallery formed the inspiration for the overall design, especially the guestrooms. The original fittings only needed a light touch of renovation; paintwork and walls were refreshed and the carpet replaced with a new design. The decorative features that give the Silver Gallery its name have been revitalised and walls have been hand-finished with palladium leaf to complement the warm metallic tones of the striking ornamental artwork. Elaborate balustrading on the grand staircase connecting ground and first floor pre-function spaces has been polished to a splendid patinated sheen and the areas have new occasional furnishings that are in keeping with the Art Deco period.
The ballroom is one of London’s finest examples of Art Deco design. It is an exceptionally glamorous and elegant area that retains several original features such as ornate coving and chandeliers. The double door entrance is covered in mirrored panels and draped with strands of ropes and tassels. Above the doors, panels of artwork depict striking symbolic imagery of the period in embossed metals. Each entrance is framed with full-height panels of silver-leafed plaster enhanced with down lighters. Beside these are highly decorative wall lights fixed to mirrors and subtle reflected gold and silver tones shimmer within the ballroom.
All existing details have been restored to their former glory – the intervention from MKV has been kept to a minimum. One significant feature, however, is the new carpet, which is in a beautiful bespoke design created by MKV Design in collaboration with Brintons and draws on the colours and motifs of the Art Deco period.
The downstairs ladies powder room has also been given a makeover. The focal point of the room is the original Art Deco dressing table the length of the entire wall. This was renovated and coupled with new pink leather upholstered chairs. A decorative embossed wall covering of golden peacock feathers, plus the original marble vanity recalls the glamour and luxury of the Art Deco period.
Bar and Restaurant
Mercante is an Italian restaurant based on the concept of a bustling Italian food market. The large indoor dining room is stylish and warm with large circular brass lamps, a lovely green chandelier and mustard-coloured seats. The hand-drawn illustrations of Italian produce on the wall, as well as the intricate map of Italy are nice details.
The new British-themed bar, Smith & Whistle, provides a friendly flair with a nod to the style and history of its home and the Mayfair surroundings. The bar’s name takes inspiration from the fictional cat-and-mouse story of Detective Inspector Smith and his pursuit of legendary high-class criminal Mr Whistle, set in and around 1920’s Mayfair. The story has also influenced the interiors of chic, bold geometric shapes, rich colours and ornate finishes. Feature artwork on opposing walls comprised of copper pipes recalls an Art Deco starburst symbol, and the textured bar front is created from hexagonal pieces of wood laid to a three-dimensional effect. The bold black and white zig-zag timber floor is a dramatic counterpoise and a reinvention of classic Art Deco pattering. The room is furnished with velvet upholstery banquet seating and atmospheric lighting.
Making MKV Design responsible for the renovation and refurbishment of the entire hotel gave the design studio an opportunity to develop a complete vision. This guarantees a more cohesive and consistent design throughout the hotel. Although each area is unique and different, they all share the same traits, perfecting the design journey of the hotel. This is a substantial and impressive refurbishment that has truly reinstated the Sheraton Grand London Park Lane as the iconic hotel it is.