The provision of new hotels in London is a boom area – except for the City, where there is a sign up saying ‘no vacancies’.
That was one of the main findings from a breakfast conference at the NLA earlier this week which explored new ideas and thriving sub-sectors in the hotels field.
Savills director Michelle Webb said there had been a significant increase in hotel supply in the last couple of years and a 6 per cent growth anticipated in the next 18 months. She added that there had been a growth in the ‘pretty undersupplied’ serviced apartments sector and a growing trend for hotels used in combination with branded residential and private members clubs.
Budget hotels are also continuing their ‘aggressive rollout’ said Webb, alongside, on the flipside of the coin, another trend for conversions of hotels such as the Hempel into residential. ‘The London market is becoming more varied, better, and more international’, she said.
But Dexter Moren, director of Dexter Moren Associates, said that while his practice is working on a large number of projects across the board from the new Holiday Inn Express in Camden, to the Great Northern at King’s Cross to the hush-hush Shangri-La project on levels 34-52 of the Shard, the City planners are now saying no to any more hotels. ‘I grew up in South Africa, and I call that planning apartheid’, said Moren.
Moren said key design trends in hotels included the use of more signature bars and restaurants; better, less-hospital-looking inclusive design; high-end residential feeding off the hotels; new materials being used towards an ‘industrial chic’ aesthetic; a rediscovery of the roofscape and space optimisation principles borrowed from ship cabin designs. ‘Nobody bothers with baths anymore’, he said. Moren also added that more corporate hotel clients were asking for hotel designs to reflect the character of their vicinities and that lobby areas were now being designed much more as working places and the ‘interactive heart of the hotel’, a little akin to coffee bars rather than waiting rooms.
The conference also heard from Tina Norden, associate director of Conran and Partners, who detailed a case study of the South Place Hotel – which has achieved a BREEAM excellent rating – and Nicholas Ling, partner at Foster and Partner on the ME Hotel in Aldwych.
David Taylor, New London Quarterly