In the months to come you will hear and read a lot about The Londoner.
This immaculate newbuild in Leicester Square is a ground breaker, quite literally.
Due to urban planning height restrictions, the architects proposed a 30-metre subterranean series of spaces on six levels, creating the deepest habitable basement in London and among the deepest in the world – a factor that presented a number of architectural, structural and engineering challenges.
Situated within a constrained site measuring less than 50m by 50m, 65,000m³ of London clay was excavated prior to construction to create a basement space to house exceptional leisure and banqueting facilities, including a two-screen Odeon cinema, with a further nine levels above ground.
On the exterior, the façade has been tailored to respond to the neighbourhood’s unique history and its brand of creativity.
Portland stone predominates the full exterior in a vertical pattern of punched bronze-framed windows surrounded by over 15,000 rich blue architectural faience tiles conceived and designed by artist Ian Monroe and individually hand-made by British company Darwen Terracotta.
Each tile took traditional artisans up to six weeks to create, from the initial pour through to the final firing.
In place, and set at a specific angle, they reflect the natural light of the sky during the day and the dynamism of the lights of Leicester Square by night.
The Londoner’s green credentials place it at the very epicentre of a rapidly changing environment, where the environmental impact of a business is as important as the business itself.
Edwardian Hotels London secured a £175m ‘Green Loan’ from HSBC UK in a bid to make the hotel one of the greenest in the UK.
The loan is the first in the sector to meet the Green Loan principles, which were set out in March 2018 to encourage and facilitate eco-friendly economic activity.
In order to achieve and meet the BREEAM ‘Excellent’ category, the team behind The Londoner implemented sustainable design solutions at all scales, using construction materials with a low environmental impact.
Many new technologies have been specified in the building process as well.
For example, a liquid film used to reduce evaporation and energy loss from the hotel’s swimming pool has been integrated into the construction.
Additionally, CHP (combined heat and power) and LED lighting have been specified throughout the building.
CHP is an energy efficient technology that generates electricity and captures the heat that would otherwise be wasted to provide useful thermal energy—such as steam or hot water.
The system can cut waste by up to 80% and the recycled energy can be ‘networked’ and used by other local businesses.
The property is also set to use up to 30% less carbon than regulations demand.
The property’s exceptional design, architecture and engineering aligns with the vision of the group’s Founder and Chairman, Mr Jasminder Singh to create “a centrepiece and anchor of the West End; a celebration of London; its history, aesthetic and people.”
Spread over 16 storeys, The Londoner features 350 guest rooms and suites, a tower penthouse with panoramic views, two private screening rooms, a mix of six concept eateries – including bars and a tavern, alfresco dining on the ground floor and a contemporary Japanese lounge bar with a rooftop terrace and fire pit – plus an expansive ballroom suited for any occasion, a variety of meeting spaces and The Retreat for wellbeing.
Spearheading the creative vision, Rob Steul, Edwardian Hotels London’s Creative Director, said of the project: “From inception, Edwardian Hotels London saw the building as more than a hotel and sought to create an ‘urban resort’ destination of the highest architectural quality.
“From the wellness space below, to an extraordinary rooftop terrace overlooking Trafalgar Square, we developed a central core of meeting, eating, lounging and event spaces running vertically through the building around which wrap the guest rooms.”
Bringing together a world-class design team Edwardian Hotels London worked with interior designers Yabu Pushelberg, architecture studio Woods Bagot, engineers Arup Associates and artist Ian Monroe to bring the concept to life.
The focus on height and depth is at the heart of the design intent.
Design and Art
The interior designers have carefully considered each space to ensure that the property offers a unique guest experience.
Speaking of the interiors, Glenn Pushelberg of Yabu Pushelberg comments, “When we were designing the hotel, we wanted to break through and connect with the way people are living today on a global level.
“It is our goal to make high-level beautifully designed rooms, suites and public areas that enhance the motions of everyday life.”
His founding partner, George Yabu, also comments, “The Londoner is designed to play into the roots of Leicester Square as London’s historic theatre district.
“We created layers of programming up into the sky and deep into the earth to emphasise this extroverted, alluring, playful voice.
“Through subtle nuances we gently infused this energy into the guestrooms because we wanted them to remain evident spaces for comfort and relaxation.
“Stylistically we tapped into traditional British sensibility and a minimal cohesive neutral palette.
“The sense of play felt throughout the walls of the hotel is carried into the rooms through bespoke artwork individualised to each room.
“There is a subtlety to our choices that reflects the hotel’s versatility and multi-generational thinking.”
“The sense of play felt throughout the walls of the hotel is carried into the rooms through bespoke artwork individualised to each room.”
Working with Yabu Pushelberg was James Robertson Art Consultants who, together with Edwardian Hotels London’s Head of Design, Krishma Singh Dear, have expertly curated a roster of pieces across the arts spectrum that represent London and its multifaceted identity.
The inclusive nature of curation, reflecting the different cultures of the city, features all types of art, including contemporary pieces from emerging artists.
The overarching curating principle was to procure modern classics that would be timeless. The resulting art collection in the hotel is a mixture of price points, mediums and genres, with a touch of humour to delight and surprise guests.
One highlight that The Londoner is particularly proud to present is the striking wood cut print ‘CAST’ from Antony Gormley’s most ambitious exhibition in more than ten years that will hang on the grand staircase for guests to view as they pass through the lobby.
Speaking of the art collection, James Robertson comments, “A great hotel is a conduit of culture.
“The essence of culture is art.
“The art collection for The Londoner synergises with the design and architecture of the hotel, its location and history and its place today in the heart of London.
“This collection has been curated with a fresh and contemporary approach, dedicated to championing women artists and contemporary works across all fields – all selected as they offer timeless elegance, energy and glamour, whilst highlighting some spectacular works from the UK and abroad.”
The Londoner, the world’s first ‘Super Boutique’ hotel, is set to open in September.
Photography: Andrew Beasley