The soon-to-open luxury Lalit London hotel will reference the school which once occupied the Grade II-listed Victorian building where it is located.
Bedrooms described as classrooms, together with public areas that include the Headmaster's Bar, Teachers' Lounge and private dining rooms called laboratories, will reflect the building's original history as home to St Olave's Grammar School, before later becoming Lambeth College.
Set to open to guests in December, the 70-bedroom hotel is being developed by the Indian company, Lalit Suri Hospitality Group. It will be the first property for the group, which owns and operates 11 hotels on the sub-continent, outside of India.
Dr Jyotsna Suri, chairperson and managing director of the group, told The Caterer that alongside the school connections, the interior will also reflect the Indian culture.
The 88-cover Baluchi pan-Indian restaurant, with seating for a further 30 on a gallery and 50 outside, will be located in the former Great Hall, which features timber panelling and a vaulted ceiling. Baluchi is a brand which already exists in five Lalit hotels.
Dr Suri said that the decision to open in London had been two-fold. "The first reason is emotional," she explained. "We have a strong connection to the city. My husband Lalit, who died here 10 years ago, always wanted to open a hotel in London. We have had an apartment here for 35 years.
"Secondly we regard London as a very strong market. Over the past 10 years it has consistently achieved occupancies of 85%. Having a hotel here will also provide us with a platform to launch into Europe."
The development of the Lalit London is being overseen by EPR Architects, which David Archer of Archer Humphryres, who worked on London's Chiltern Firehouse and Great Northern hotels, is responsible for the concept design.
Dr Suri is supported in the business by her four children: son Keshav and three daughters, Deeksha, Divya and Shradha. Keshav Suri said that creating a basement in the property, where the kitchen and a ayurvedic spa will be located, and repairing the roof had been a challenge. "We've taken our time in order to get it right," he said. "We build to last - we are definitely in this for the long run."
Dr Suri added that the hotel will carve a unique identity for itself within London's luxury hotel sector. "There many large luxury hotels and many business hotels in London, but there are very few operating in the luxury boutique sector, which where we will be positioned."
General manager of the Lalit London will be Arun Kumar, who previously held the same position at the Hampton by Hilton Oxford; while the executive chef Arup Dasgupta has joined the hotel from the Thistle City Barbican.