The Ampersand Hotel, South Kensington
Saturday 15 Jun 2013


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This project is the first hotel completed by our client who purchased the site in 2011. Armed with a strong vision,  our client set about procuring a team to create "one of London's best boutique hotels". Dexter Moren Associates were one of eight companies invited to propose a vision, and subsequently we were appointed as architects and interior designers.

The client wanted the hotel to have all the characteristics of a headline boutique property, but the ethos was less about five-star luxury and more about providing a great guest experience for the right price. The design needed to create a classic and cosy environment, to steer away from fads, and to provide a contemporary theme appropriate to the heritage of the building.

Drawing on South Kensington's many and varied neighbourhood attractions, the design tells a story of connections between Victorian history and the museums of the local area, using the key themes of botany, music, ornithology, geometry and astronomy. Luxury is blended with quirky, fun design details such as an 18m goose feather chandelier, a cabinet of curiosities, and a sculptural piece made out of salvaged architectural details taken from site during refurbishment.

This new 111 bedroom hotel includes five balconied suites, an artisanal coffee lounge and patisserie as well as Apero Bar & Restaurant, a destination cocktail bar and dining experience on the lower ground floor.  One of the key challenges in designing this space was to ensure it could successfully integrate all day dining and also function as an evening bar drawing in a local clientele. The bar and restaurant are speak easy inspired spaces which with the inclusion of white painted brick work walls are lifted to be fresher than their subterranean counter parts. The Apero bar utilises as much of the existing building as possible - exposed brickwork arches, Georgian wire glazing etc. Industrial finishes paired with low level lighting provide a suitably relaxed canvas for the 'cabinet of curiosities' , the main feature in the space, of which its contents spill through into the rest of the space.  Again this ties into the overall concept of responding to the hotels location and nearby museums.

We replanned key internal spaces to maximise the flow and function of the hotel. Back of house has been repositioned to open up the reception lobby space. The central staircase has been punched down one level to connect guests to the lower floor bar & restaurant, library and games room. By repositioning first floor rooms we have enabled a separate entrance to Apero. This has been crucial in helping drive f&b as a separate revenue stream. In replanning the spaces we also achieved an additional 5 bedrooms for our client.