VINTRY & MERCER, LONDON
Tucked amongst the bustling city streets lies a treasure trove of charming London hideaways. With boutique retreat Vintry & Mercer claiming prime position on the list. Sophie Harper visits the hotel with Partner and Head of Interior Design at DMA, Lindsey Bean-Pearce, to find out more about the build and design of the project…
Take a moment to step away from London’s most famous roads to enjoy a more leisurely stroll along some of the narrow, winding streets dotted throughout the heart of the city and you’ll find some real treasures. One of which is a new favourite among savvy city explorers this year since its opening in February: the exceedingly pleasing-on-the-eye Vintry & Mercer. I hasten to simply call it a hotel, because it is that and so much more – the use of space making it a wonderful social gathering place for guests and day visitors alike.
Comprising 92 guestrooms, a gym, three private event rooms, rooftop restaurant and bar, an all-day dining room, and a decadent underground speakeasy, Vintry & Mercer is more a destination than a hotel alone. Taking care of both the architecture and interior design, Dexter Moren Associates (DMA) was appointed to carry out the work on an already approved scheme, but with some insight from the team, was redesigned to make better use of the square footage. Led by DMA’s Partner and Head of Interior Design, Lindsey Bean-Pearce, and Associate, Giada Gemignani, the original layout was adapted to increase the number of external aspect rooms and create a more impactful entrance.
Meeting Lindsey Bean-Pearce at the luxury boutique retreat earlier this year, she told me, “Anton, the owner, had really strong, luckily great, ideas, and he loves English country houses and gardens, so that set the tone for us wanting to create a bolthole where the finished result doesn’t even feel as though you’re in the city.” She adds, “When creating any new hotel, finding that perfect balance between the impact of beautiful design and the ability for that design to remain timeless is always the hardest of goals to achieve. That is why it is so important to immerse the motif in the neighbourhood story. In this way the hotel becomes a series of layers that unfurl to tell a story that is both unique and authentic to its location, and that guests can understand and engage with. With Vintry & Mercer we believe we have created something truly special.”
Nestled among historic livery halls, guilds and ancient streets, but surrounded by global powerhouses, the hotel is a melting pot of the past and present. Taking inspiration from the city’s rich history, the design of the hotel is rooted in the unique story of the merchant guilds that operated in the area trading wines (Vintners) and fine silks (Mercers) – a theme that, although subtle, is carried throughout the hotel with visual references at every glance.
Stepping through the glass doors from Garlick Hill, a tropical green entrance gives way to a hint of Art Deco. The reception area is made up of a bright, botanic-infused space, and the lobby is a relaxing space where vintage pieces of furniture and unique map artwork by Elisabeth Lecourt are lit beautifully by the sculptural lighting that winds its way above and then down through the feature staircase to the lower floor. At the bottom of the staircase, quirky features and artwork prevail, from the neatly stacked display of vintage suitcases and trunks to the playful collaged 3D artwork in the meeting rooms. The meeting rooms themselves are unlike the usual sorts you would expect to find in a hotel. Rather than plain rooms with the focus being on the boardroom table or projector screen, the three rooms on the lower ground floor offer meeting space with a bit of character. The Music Room, The Library and The Drawing Room, each have their own personas. Based on the traditional entertainment spaces within the Georgian houses in the vicinity, the meeting rooms are all thoughtfully designed to serve practical purposes whilst retaining the hotel’s boutique feel. The joinery has been carefully crafted to include features such as discreet coat cupboards and concealed TVs in each of the rooms. Display books and drinks cabinets create a residential feel. Patchwork Persian rugs and a trading map decorating the ceiling of the library pay homage to the neighbourhood’s trade heritage. Designed to incorporate natural light where possible, antique mirrors in The Library and The Drawing Room reflect the daylight from the clerestory inserted into the ceilings. Whether the space is hired for a private dinner party or a business meeting, the spaces are luxurious, functional and comfortable in equal measure.
Also on the lower ground floor, guests can find a secluded bar area the Do Not Disturb (DND) – an opulent underground speakeasy inspired by the clandestine bars of 1920s New York. Lounge banquettes and velvet upholstered fringe-lined chairs provide inviting seating areas to admire the hand-beaded images of Ziegfeld Follies girls lining the walls, while heavy curtains draped around the booths offer a more intimate setting. Dark clarets and charcoal shades set the mood with low-level ambience, while the use of brown Emperador marble and unfinished brass add to the vintage aesthetic.
The hotel’s guestrooms offer a cosy retreat from the city streets, the canvas of which is a continuation of the vintners and mercers’ theme. Grandiose, oversized headboards with bespoke damask and velvet upholstery are a dominant feature in each room, and the use of colour – from warm honeys and saffrons to deep clarets – reflect the colours of items historically traded by the guilds. Dressing areas are a modern play on a deconstructed travel trunk, featuring textured timber veneer with brass mesh panels. Carriage-style mirrors evoke the golden age of train travel.
Bespoke carpeting, wallcoverings depicting trade routes, and even artwork displaying various coats of arms belonging to guilds and livery companies of the early 1800s, all add to the uniqueness of the guestroom design. But practical elements have been given a lot of thought here too. Interestingly, Lindsey tells me that the interiors team responsible for the décor of the rooms was entirely female – not by design – simply by coincidence. But that the smallest details, from plug sockets being close enough to dressing tables and lighting not being placed in such a way that it would cast shadows over the guest’s face whilst trying to apply makeup, were all thought about prior to fixtures being installed.
Bathrooms feature coloured glazed tiles that are laid in a herringbone pattern, while black and white mosaic tiles create bold stripes under the bespoke marble vanities – patterns that directly link to the fabrics used by the merchant tailors. Crittall style glazing has been inserted into the top of the bathroom walls to filter natural light in, with fluted glass used to maintain privacy. Details such as underfloor heating, niches for toiletries, and de-mist mirrors ensure that the spaces are both practical and beautiful.
With dining spaces on both the ground floor and roof terrace, Vintry & Mercer offers guests and visitors two very distinct areas with very different menus to accompany each. The ground floor Vintry Izakaya offers a relaxed style of dining from an Asian-inspired menu. The room is elegant and informal with geometric-tiled floors, marble-topped tables and luxurious leather banquette seating.
A clever combination of plantation shutters and delicate wire framed mirrors throw natural illumination across the space from the roof light above, while a gantry of wine barrels offering wines on tap references the Vintner’s Guild (and acts as a fun centrepiece for visitors to try out). Up on the building’s top floor, the Mercer Roof Terrace overlooks St Paul’s Cathedral and offers spectacular views across the city. The design is based on a countryside orangery with a light and airy feel centred around an olive tree on the terrace that had to be lifted into place before the building of the hotel had been completed. Cool sage greens and greys form the palette here with weathered timbers and brass detailing, pale timber flooring and a deep green Verdi Alpi marble bar. It’s the sort of place that can be enjoyed come rain or shine but looks so fantastic bathed in sunlight.
The sister property to The Ampersand Hotel in South Kensington (both owned by Anton Fedun and designed by DMA), Vintry & Mercer is a one-of-a-kind property. On first appearances you wouldn’t guess that it’s a new-build or that it carries such fantastic sustainability credentials – the building actually runs on 100 per cent renewable electricity sourced from wind, solar and biomass generators. It holds the sort of charm that comes from a building tripping over itself with history, yet it is such a contemporary hotel at the same time, which I think pays dividends to the theme used as the design inspiration here – it’s an historic point of reference for the 21st century.