ART’OTEL BATTERSEA POWER STATION, LONDON, UK
As part of the iconic Battersea Power Station development with interior design by Jamie Hayon, art’otel’s UK debut is set to impress. Jess Miles is first-in after the full launch to embrace the site in all its glory.
When you live only 30 minutes from the hotel you’re staying at, you’re taking the idea of a staycation to a whole new level of luxury. Luckily, it’s justified. Whilst the art’otel brand’s first UK opening with interior design by Spanish artist-designer Jamie Hayon is not something that would easily slip off the radar, its location is what makes this project something of a spectacle. Right in the heart of the long-anticipated Battersea Power Station development, it’s a run-not-walk opportunity to visit the new neighbourhood just as a fresh layer of history drapes itself over this riverside pocket of South London.
For those who might have missed the goings-on, the eight-year long regeneration of the area has been centred around the Grade II* listed Power Station which until now, has laid dormant for nearly forty years. Considered an architectural masterpiece, the 1930s landmark building supposedly supplied a fifth of London’s electricity during its peak operational years. The Power Station itself has been restored and pieced back together by WilkinsonEyre in line with Sir Giles Gilbert Scott’s original vision. Industrial yet full of Art Deco splendour and scattered with remnants of its history, the landmark building now serves as a mixed-use destination, home to an array of high-end retailers, bars, and restaurants, as well as residential apartments and office space.
As the one and only hotel to be planned for the reinvented locale, art’otel Battersea sits in prime position within Foster + Partners’ Battersea Roof Gardens building along Electric Boulevard — the pedestrianised high street that winds its way through the development to Gehry Partners’ Prospect Place, and on toward the new underground station, that makes getting here all so easily accessible via the Northern Line. Standing at the foot of the hotel’s serpentine façade, it’s difficult not to marvel at its surroundings. Particularly if like me, any prior recollection of the area brought visions of construction-clad streets, the US Embassy, and Battersea Dogs Home to mind. Whilst the latter two remain, the former has been replaced by an architectural montage of structures and thoroughfares which only showcase their respective creators’ artistry. It seems that linear angles are out, and seamless curvature is in.
Within the hotel, the free-flowing framework orchestrated by Studio Moren — who was appointed hotel architect from RIBA Stage 2 to completion — continues from the ground floor lobby and up through the tower’s 16 floors above. With only guestrooms between the ground floor and the top floors, it’s earth or sky for amenities. Set to be a destination for staying guests as well as local visitors, the 164-key hotel offers a wellness space, TOZI Grand Café, Joia bar and restaurant, and an open-air rooftop lounge complete with a year-round heated (yes, heated) infinity pool and jacuzzi.
No stranger to hospitality design, Jamie Hayon’s vivacious presence is distinctive from the get-go, whilst being skilfully synonymous with the foundation of the spaces. If familiar with his work at Hotel Barceló Torre de Madrid, or more recently, The Standard Bangkok, expect to be greeted by his signature style by way of playful silhouettes, mallowy furnishings, and graphic tones. With a track record of cross-disciplinary design projects, the hotel acts as an immersive showroom for Hayon’s iconic creations, furnished with pieces made from past collaborations with some of Europe’s finest furniture brands and design houses — Fritz Hansen, Arflex, and Wittman to name but a few.
The ground floor makes quite the entrance. Following the art’otel brand’s concept to create art-centric spaces, alongside his own art and objets, Hayon commissioned a series of photographic works by Dutch artist duo KlunderBie. Hung throughout the vast lobby and public spaces, the surrealist portraits play with British iconography as a tribute to the London location. Just beyond the reception, huge tapestries woven in The Netherlands flag off-kilter booths that line the rotunda-shaped TOZI Grand Café. Staying guests and visitors can dine here morning, afternoon, and evening whilst admiring the Miro-esque mobiles floating overhead.
The playful palette and Hayon vision continue throughout each guestroom and suite, with still not a straight-edged wall in sight. Delightfully void of any beige or brown tones, even the wood furnishings are soaked in a deep cobalt blue or rich rouge. Thoughtfully designed, the spaces set strong colours against soft curves, elegant lighting, and decorative details full of wit and humour that makes you feel at ease in the luxury setting. With a range of guestrooms and suites, you can select one to suit your size and style needs. Of course, whilst they each offer the same design language, only a handful offer skyline views. For the most elevated experience (quite literally) the one and only Masterpiece Suite on the 14th floor comes equipped with a separate lounge diner, a not-so-mini fully stocked bar and drinks tasting tray, and a record player complete with choice vinyls. More like an exclusive new-build city apartment ripe for entertaining, unwind below before sauntering up one floor to Joia bar and restaurant, and wake to test the rooftop pool via private access.
The only space to not have Jamie Hayon’s touch is Joia. Spread over the top two floors of the tower, the restaurant brings an Iberian sharing menu to Battersea courtesy of two Michelin-starred chef Henrique Sá Pessoa. As a destination in its own right, London-based Russell Sage Studio completed the design of the space.
With previous work owing quite a different aesthetic (think The Fife Arms, or The Goring Hotel), Joia showcases the studio’s versatility. As you arrive, the space feels completely attuned to the rest of the hotel whilst having its own distinctive flair. Meaning ‘jewel’ in Portuguese, Joia is made inviting by squishy seating and voluptuous banquettes dressed in malachite and rose quartz toned velvets. Overhead, golden mobiles float and glimmer above, echoing those found in the ground floor TOZI Grand Café. Floor-to-ceiling windows provide full frontal views of the Power Station — best seen in all its glory as the sun goes down and the building’s warm feature lights are switched.
As part of the iconic development, art’otel Battersea has been designed to achieve BREEAM ‘Excellent’ status — from innovative heating systems and efficient façade design to high-tech hotel management solutions, as well as a green roof — sustainability has been an integral element of the whole project. With such considered design from the ground right up to the top of the building, it would be amiss of me to say that I have left the best until last. But there is always something about rooftops that gets the average Brit suddenly very enthusiastic, never mind if the words ‘infinity pool’ are mentioned in tow. The rooftop space, which doesn’t have a name, follows the hooklike curvature of the building to create pockets of relaxation and contemplation.
A stunning Roof Garden designed by James Corner Field Operations (impressively, the same team behind the New York High Line), coupled with close and intimate views of the Power Station’s iconic chimneys, and of course, the heated infinity pool, all put art’otel Battersea in the running for the best rooftop in town. You’ll know where to find me this summer.
AT A GLANCE
Owner: PPHE Hotel Group
Operator: Radisson Hotels
Architecture: Foster + Partners, Studio Moren
Interior Design: Jamie Hayon, Russell Sage Studio