The Laslett, London
Opened in August 2015, The Laslett is sheltered within five London townhouse buildings. Hamish Kilburn Speaks with founder of Waldo Works Tom Bartlett to unearth the design story…
Two lights illuminating two pillars mark a suitable entrance to The Laslett in Notting Hill, West London. Working in harmony, Tracy Lowy from Living Rooms and Tom Bartlett from Waldo Works completed the hotel in August 2015 after the two years after starting. Today the pure-white facade accurately resonates the former individual townhouses. Its majestic, grand and very welcoming as it has always been. “Tracy and I met 20 years ago on a small project called No.5 Maddox Street,” explains Bartlett. “Over the years we have looked at different buildings together and I guess the timing and the place were both right. We both grew up just down the road from Pembridge Gardens and where The Laslett stands today was very much our neighbourhood we grew up in.”
Inside, the lobby is cosy, comfortable and sophisticated. Small accents of detail stand out on the walls, such as a pair of time-worn black satin shoes encased in a secure glass box. These were in fact discovered under the floorboards of the hotel from the flooring contractors while renovating the five townhouses. According to the Bartlett, they have been hidden in 8 Pembridge Gardens (which now features the public areas of the hotel) for more than a century. Another striking detail is a large painting of Harland Miller’s I am The One I’ve Been Waiting For. Anywhere else, this may be a book title on the shelf, but standing above the sofa next to a polished service trolley, to me, it appropriately sets the tone of guests’ experience at the hotel.
Through the lobby paved with quintessentially British encaustic tiles, guests enter the main public space. On top of the herringbone parquet, a striking 11m long brass table with cement top spans two buildings. It has a changing use throughout the day. A place to gather around, meet or greet, to display pastries and breakfast in the morning, exhibit collections or to use for evening events. Above, like an art installation, the lighting glows along the length of the table.
The two adjoining rooms allow more privacy. The walls covered in art curated by Ben Kelway. There are low seating zones, some to encourage lounging, including vintage leather armchairs from local reclamation experts Retrouvius, which sit alongside pops of colour. The Artemide Callimaco floor lamp designed by Sottsass during his postmodern Memphis years. Other zones allow space to sit down with a laptop, Prouvé Fauteuil standard3 chairs around tables with West London boy Tom Dixon bases, and customised marble top.
51 guestrooms look and feel as though they could be straight out of a stylish friend’s townhouse. High ceilings make the rooms spacious and uncluttered. “It was exciting when we first drafted out the first room to see what would work and what would need tweaking,” says Bartlett. “To be honest, not much changed and that was very exciting to be surrounded by derelict buildings with this one jewel-like room in the middle of it. We were very keen for the rooms to feel luxurious but for them not to be about luxury.”
Neutral grey walls are given a new life with local art, such as a candid black and white photograph of a stack of bass amps on a Notting Hill street corner by Brian David Stevens. According to sources, the image was captured before one of the highly energetic Notting Hill Carnivals. Today, framed copies of the dramatic photograph marvelously pays homage to the famous annual event, which takes place just streets away from the property. Another piece that catches my eye is a print by Toby Mott and is bold in colour and punk in attitude. Barbara Hulanicki’s work brings a touch of vivid colour to the walls with the recognisable stroke technique that indicates a sense of delicacy. The lamps either side of the bed deliberately juxtapose each other. One sits comfortably on the side table, the other, a Davide Groppi, descends from the high ceiling leaving a zig zag trail in its path. Books are also used as decoration. A cluster of Penguin fiction stories, with their wrinkled and loved covers featured in each room. So, too, does the Carnival, Ishmahil Blagrove JR’s edited photographic testimonial history book of the Notting Hill carnival.
The bathrooms are grand, light and comfortable. Much like the outside of the building, monochrome tiles on the floor leave a traditional townhouse impression, while the duel grey and white tiles keep the room light, simple and elegant. In the master bedroom suites, a free-standing Bette bath is deep and sits next to a large window encouraging guests to relax. Underneath a large Vanity mirror, a modest Conova Royal sink with Crosswater Belgravia taps offer a sense of class and appropriately sits behind the separate shower.
“Notting Hill has changed so much in the last five years,” explains Bartlett. “It’s gone from what was once the cultural hub of London to now something that’s quite smart and upmarket.” It’s clear that much of the inspiration behind the design of the hotel was Notting Hill in the 80s through to the 90s. The Laslett sits comfortably in the heart and always has its door open for those wanting a little taste of luxury with a hint of old-school.