REVIEW: THE STANDARD, LONDON
Last summer London welcomed a new kid to the Kings Cross ‘block’ in the form of The Standard – an American brand hotel offering that saw something in a building most would describe as needing an acquired taste to appreciate. Just a little over a year on and The Standard London has very much settled into the top spot in people’s hearts. SPACE paid the hotel a visit this autumn to find out why.
It’s hard to miss The Standard in London’s creative Kings Cross. If the ’70s brutalist façade doesn’t catch your eye, whether it’s your bag or not, you’ll certainly notice the size of the building and quirky details like the external fire-engine red lift (elevator for our American friends) that transports visitors from pavement to sky-high dining in a matter of seconds. Located in the geographic centre of London, directly across from St Pancras station, The Standard, London, was meticulously designed in partnership with the company’s long-time collaborator Shawn Hausman, with interior architecture by Archer Humphryes. Informed and inspired by Camden’s history, from political and intellectual thought and punk rock bands to the mischievous underbelly of King’s Cross, The Standard, London pays homage to both its location and the building while recognising the remarkable transformation taking hold of the neighbourhood. “King’s Cross is fascinating in terms of what’s there historically and what’s coming,” said David Archer of Archer Humphryes Architects. “The Standard is one of the most conceptually rigorous projects we’ve worked on – it’s gone further in the depth of design, in the character of the individual spaces, and the impact on the user – there’s nothing else like it in London.”
It’s certainly not the most elegant building you’ll ever set your eyes on but there’s no denying its presence, and actually even if you don’t ‘get it’ at first glance, there’s something magnetic about the building that once housed the former Camden Town Hall Annex.
266 rooms consist of The Single, Cosy Core, Queen’s Standard, Queen of Queens, King’s Deluxe, King of Kings and a whole range of suites. Singles are compact little rooms designed with all the basic amenities for crashing in for one night. Cosy Core rooms are slap bang in the middle of the building and receive no natural light. Instead, they let off an ambient glow and are sound proofed from the inside, making them perfect for weary DJs or business travellers wanting complete rest without any distractions. Queen, King and Standard rooms all carry the same Transport for London theme, with angular furniture, heavily patterned carpet and primary colours reminiscent of ’70s public transport. The bathrooms are a colourful mix of salmon pink and navy subway tiles finished with mint green brassware and Bette bathtubs, basins and shower trays.
Scale the upper levels and the guest accommodation takes a completely different direction. The hotel’s suites offer a far more grown-up experience, almost as though the building has been divided up into a typical residential family home setting with the living and play areas on the ground floor, the children’s rooms on the levels above, and Mum and Dad’s room at the very top of the house. The décor is far calmer in these spaces and more in line with the typical Californian beach house look. There are still nods to the rest of the hotel with leather bolstered headboards and ’70s styling, but with a gentler colour palette and airier, more spacious living areas helped by floor-to-ceiling windows. Suite bathrooms are generous in size and clad in white with black and oak finishes. With bathtubs moved into the living space, more room allows for huge shower enclosures in the bathrooms, with some suites featuring their tubs outside on the terrace for braver bathers. All come with the most spectacular views of the Victorian Gothic St Pancras Station, with the larger suites including more generous bar areas and the Suite Terrace complete with its own private wrap-around terrace with views across London.
On the ground floor, the design is playful with plenty of humour. The ’70s styling that pays homage to the building’s age screams at you from every walnut veneer and wall covered shagpile, but there is method to the occasional glimpse of madness here. The oversized blue revolving doors lead you to a reception desk which sits in front of an original commissioned work by North London based artist Lubna Chowdhary. The ceramic installation, ‘Perfect Time’, uses its colourful surface and round shapes to conjure a visual that reflects the passage of time. Behind the front desk, the team wears outfits lovingly designed by Craig Green, who before achieving his many accolades, graduated from Central Saint Martins College just down the road from the hotel.
The Library Lounge, complete with actual library, curated specifically for the hotel, is a cool dimly lit area of relaxation and shares its floorspace with the Sounds Studio – The Standard’s very own broadcasting culture hub. Music and entertainment is at the heart of everything the Standard brand stands for, and the group even has its own Director of Music to not only put together an incredible live events programme for the hotel, but to also collate the perfect songs for the hotel playlist.
All-day restaurant Isla offers laid-back, elegant dining from a seasonal menu with a predominantly minimal intervention wine list. Integrated with the lobby and library, Isla also gently spills out to the garden terrace nestled in a residential area of Kings Cross.
Inspired by Britain’s island geography, Isla focuses on coastal cuisine, light proteins and seasonal British produce accompanied by a selection of minimal intervention wines. Isla hosts an abundance of foliage set alongside rich blues and reds to add depth and warmth. The stylish, outside space has a retractable awning, allowing guests to bask in the summer sun or providing welcome shade on hotter days.
The Double Standard bar and restaurant offers a relaxed social space packed full of atmosphere – and serves up the best burger in London, in my humble opinion. Heavy-set wooden doors, textured glass and TfL-inspired upholstery encapsulate the cosy feeling of a British local, whilst pastel tiled flooring, rounded soft pink shelving and an exposed felt ceiling are unexpected design elements to create a modern and playful feel unique to the city.
Decimo is a strikingly designed, 114 cover restaurant with sweeping, panoramic views of London from the floor-to-ceiling windows that encircle the entire space. The restaurant is directly accessible via the red lift on Euston Road and includes a visible kitchen, an intimate, stand-alone bar, and two private dining rooms. The bespoke bar is Jatoba wood, commonly found in central America. The rattan ceiling comes from the Fong Brothers in California, and macramé drapery comes from Peru’s Cristina Colichon. Yellow and red dimple tiles are made in Brazil with a custom glaze and ceramics and lights are made by Whichford Pottery.
Opened officially in July 2019, The Standard London, which is anything but standard, is the first venture for the brand outside of the United States and has set the bar for the brand’s planned global expansion to Milan, Paris, Lisbon, Bordeaux, Mexico City, Bangkok, Jakarta, Ko Samui, Phuket and Chicago. Commenting on the success of The Standard London, Amar Lalvani, CEO of Standard International said: “We could not be prouder of what The Standard team and our many collaborators have created, in a beautiful, overlooked building that was almost left for naught.” It has been a resounding success for the Standard Group, but really has to be tried and tested to appreciate its genius. Guaranteed fun and frolics come as standard.
DESIGN: Shawn Hausman
INTERIOR ARCHITECTURE: Archer Humphryes
SUPPLIERS: Bathrooms: Bette Textiles/drapery: Concept Contract Macrame drapery: Cristina Colichon Bluetooth speakers: Bang & Olufsen Tiles at Decimo: Whichford Pottery Guest room exercise equipment: Peloton Staff uniforms and guest bathrobes: Craig Green