Right in the historic heart of Westminster, there sadly lay a building which was receding into the annals of time.
Minutes away from Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, and the Houses of Parliament, the former 19th century hospital and 20th century office space desperately needed a helping hand to make it into the 21st.
Fortunately, the charming Victorian building which sits alongside New Scotland Yard has been given a new lease of life and has been converted into the InterContinental London Westminster Hotel.
The end result of the refurbishment is stunning, yet it took a lot of hard work and just over three years to complete the transformation.
A collapsed roof and a dangerous structural order all nearly brought the build to the brink. However, the ambition to see the hotel completed and see the building restored to its former glory was enough to overcome such issues.
Now visitors can enjoy a new façade, a beautifully renovated interior and an authentic smoke house restaurant with its own charcoal ovens – all within walking distance of some of London’s most interesting and historic sites.
Dexter Moren Associates were the architects & interior space planners behind the build and when asked about the project, David Taylor, Senior Architect said:
“We planned the hotel to give flexibility and to make best use of a restrictive and awkward existing building, working with numerous consultants and interior designers to co-ordinate the project.
“We improved the front of the building by knocking out the original retail units on the ground level to create a new visitor entrance and enhanced guest arrival, this was decorated with a public art feature.
“We made major structural changes. Utilising internal extensions into the existing lightwells we were able to achieve additional volume and introduce natural light, we knocked out most of the bulky old structure and put in a new, slimmer, steel frame to maximise floor space.
“We designed the public areas as a sequence of spaces which link seamlessly through continuity of materials but take on their own individual style through lighting and sub-division. They are a progression of spaces that give the flexibility to be used separately or as a collective. Marble features heavily as does timber finishes with accents of exposed brickwork. A new elliptical stair links guests on the ground floor to the lower level ballroom and meeting spaces.”
Speaking on some of the challenges, David added:
“We have had lots of difficulties along the way, with buildings of this age you always uncover unforeseen events and circumstances, being flexible and experienced enough to overcome these challenges quickly, the team were able to deliver a scheme the client is happy with.”
“The safety of everyone on site was always paramount, therefore we underwent strengthening works to the shell prior to the main demolition, this way we could ensure the rigidy of the building and be confident about the modifications.”
The hotel has 256 rooms; seven meeting rooms – four of which can be linked together to make the ballroom, there are 12 suites, 30 studios and one penthouse.
The Blue Boar Smokehouse is the restaurant within the hotel and it takes its name in honour of one of the oldest inns in Westminster’s history, Blue Boars Head, formerly of King Street which served the village for over 600 years.
The menu takes inspiration from the best American dishes and uses great British ingredients to serve up a smoking menu of melt in the mouth feasts.
Speaking on the layout of the restaurant David said:
“The restaurant has three main spaces, the restaurant dining area itself, Emmeline’s lounge and a further tea lounge. Emmeline’s is quite feminine in its appearance; the smokehouse is very masculine with lots of timber cladding on the walls and dark wood on the floors. All three spaces are separate but they can be linked for the same function.
“The Smokehouse bar acts as a further extension to the restaurant but with a re-designed facade to the main road and it’s own entrance off the street, functions as a bar in its own right.”
The hotel has now opened its doors and offers guests a luxury experience in the political and royal heartland of London.