Four Seasons london

The Four Seasons Hotel London at Park Lane re-opens today after a multi-million pound rebuilding programme that has seen it set a new benchmark in sophistication and perfectly crafted quality. ReardonSmith were the lead architects with responsibility for architectural planning and design, interior design detailing and on-site design compliance.

The project on-site took 28 months and was the first time that the building had been entirely stripped back to its structure since construction some 40 years ago - a task that had become necessary to facilitate a major up-grading of all services, but which also enabled the re-planning of virtually every part of the hotel. Starting with a detailed design brief, ReardonSmith’s project embraced every part of the building, front and back-of-house, and included a two-storey glazed extension to the North elevation, newly modelled garden suites with conservatories, a new lift core and new kitchens. The interior design concepts for all front-of-house areas were by Pierre-Yves Rochon with the exception of the 10th floor rooftop extension which was designed by Eric Parry Architects and accommodates an ultra luxurious spa with separate areas for men and women, and a fitness suite and lounge alongside.

“Working in collaboration with highly professional and proactive client representatives, our objective was to hand over a hotel that enshrined the exceptional brand values of Four Seasons in every detail and increase the asset value of the building,” says James Twomey, ReardonSmith’s Associate Director in charge of the project. “This in my opinion was achieved through precise re-planning of the interiors on all floors of the hotel and by adding appropriate architectural interventions to the building’s existing envelope. The rebuilt hotel with its newly defined architectural form, chic interiors and enhanced spaces, in particular to the principle public areas, has a far greater sense of place and belonging to its location in this exclusive enclave of London”.

At ground level, the porte-cochère has been treated to an elegant facelift with a new polished black granite facia and graceful new lighting including a constellation fibre optic panel soffit. Inside, the floor has been opened up to allow glimpses of the atrium and of Amaranto lounge, bar and restaurant through to the newly landscaped garden beyond. The entire area works as one with its predominating dark French marble, classic timbers and rich red upholsteries but it has also been planned to provide areas of intimacy and to offer a range of experiences. Oversize pocket doors glide in and out of the walls transforming spaces and revealing themselves as magnificent artworks or elegantly mirrored partitions that capture reflections of the working fireplaces.

The triple-height atrium has been remodelled and opened up by relocating the grand staircase to the rear of the space with a new mezzanine viewing gallery above. The staircase is a work of art with its Art Deco-inspired scrolled balustrade, rosewood treads and deep red velvet panels to the walls. Impressive as this is, however, its near neighbour is the true focal point of the new atrium space – an exquisite monochrome frieze that rises the full height of the atrium, comprising 110 panels of seamlessly sculptured plaster.

The Four Seasons London’s tradition of excellent afternoon teas continues, now served in the chic new lounge areas that extend along the ground floor on the street-side where generous planting creates a vertiginous separation from the road outside. The bar is appropriately located in the centre of the ground floor – a dark and intimate timbered space with floor-to-ceiling ambient and chilled wine cabinets specially designed by ReardonSmith to display over 750 bottles of wine. Previously, both bar and restaurant were on the first floor; removal to the ground floor now permits direct access from the street via a new dedicated entrance. The restaurant combines the main dining room, a private room and a contemporary glass conservatory, and with al fresco dining in the walled garden an option, it represents a unique leisure experience in this densely packed part of London.

The relocation of the restaurant and bar has created space for additional meeting rooms at first floor level such that there is now a comprehensive choice of meeting and function options combining the latest in technology with luxuriant design. The north elevation extension provides a stunning executive meeting room with 180º views towards Park Lane. Throughout the public areas, attention to each detail is everywhere to see, from the marble floor inlayed with stainless steel in the ballroom hall to the highly specialist horizontal-cut palm wood joinery in the ladies’ toilets and the lifts, sumptuously clad in deep-stitched red leather with back-lit Lalique fanlight panels in the lobbies.

The eight floors above have all been re-configured to achieve a wide range of bedrooms and suites. They are densely planned and every opportunity has been taken to capture available space and, through careful layout, to create rooms that feel generous in size and are extremely comfortable. In total, there are 192 guestrooms of which 53 incorporate a large, modern wet room rather than a conventional bathroom with tub. The percentage of suites is significant. Before the rebuilding, there were 20; ReardonSmith’s scheme has achieved 45 flexible one-, two- and three-bedrooms suites to accommodate different permutations of travelling families, all of them configured to maximise views. Some of the suites have working fireplaces and unforgettable views of Hyde Park; the 12 Conservatory Suites have quite exceptional garden terraces and others have a full-height curving glass wall achieved by integrating the existing balcony space into the room offering a bird’s eye view of the ever-thronging Park Lane. However, this is a view that is utterly peaceful. Acoustics were a key consideration for all the building; new glazing is of the highest acoustic standard and where the glazing is not new, rigorous testing has determined the areas in need of upgrading.

Once again, the quality of materials and finishes on the guest floors sets the Four Seasons London apart. The design brief specified the ambience of luxury residential apartments rather than a hotel and PYR’s design concepts featured either pale sycamore or walnut wall cladding, doors and cabinetry that would replicate traditional Jaguar car dashboards with their intense shine. This required the most skilled work to slowly build up the layers of gloss and bring out the beautiful horizontal-cut of the timber. The extent of infrastructure that needed to be run through the corridors was considerable in order that the rooms would be managed to the highest level. Yet, in a solution carefully engineered between the architects and designers, the corridors are elegant and achieve a sense of space with access panels well-hidden behind glorious black and white photographs of famous British models on mid-twentieth century Vogue magazine covers.

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