Nestled among the livery halls, guilds and narrow streets that line the banks of the Thames, the past and present intersect at the City of London's latest hotel: Vintry & Mercer.
The £70m hotel launched in February after a four-year development. It joins other recent openings in the area, including the Ned, the Four Seasons at Ten Trinity Square and Dorsett City, as well as Marriott International's first Westin in the UK, located opposite the hotel and due to open next year.
The hotel is overseen by director Anton Fedun, who also owns the 111-bedroom Ampersand hotel in Kensington, and Roberto Pajares, who is general manager across both properties and the son of 1984 Hotelier of the Year RamÁ³n Pajares. Fedun wanted both a sister hotel to the Ampersand and a space with its own personality.
Fedun had a few design requirements to aesthetically link Vintry & Mercer to the Ampersand, which were a feature staircase with a light sculpture, oversized headboards, and a similar colour palette. But despite being a sister property and a new build, both Fedun and the design team at Dexter Moren Associates were keen that it assimilated the area's history and told its own story.
"With all of our designs, we start with the story, the history, the context and location," says Lindsey Bean-Pearce, partner and co-head of interior design at Dexter Moren Associates.
"It's important that a new build is going to integrate the story," adds Giada Gemignani, senior interior designer. The concept they finally landed on was
a focus on London's historic guilds. The property is located within the Vintry ward of the City, the centre for London's wine merchants from the 14th century, while the mercer guild traded in fine fabrics in the area, hence the name and sumptuous interiors.
Guests enter Vintry & Mercer through a walkway which leads straight to the public areas and the Vintry Kitchen or to the reception to the right. "One of the really important things was that the reception was separate from the entrance, so that people who came to dine would not feel like they're coming into a hotel," says Bean-Pearce. Cabinets of curiosities reference the items merchants would
have brought back from their travels.
Vintry Kitchen offers an all-day, pan-Asian tapas menu influenced by the Silk Road, an ancient network of trade routes that connected the East and West. The restaurant is overseen by executive head chef Chris Golding, who creates dishes such as tempura vegetables and seafood, steamed buns filled with teriyaki beef, Porthilly oyster with yuzu koshu and sweet and spicy fried peanut chicken. Wine is, of course, central to the offer, and is tapped straight from barrels lining the gantry.
e restaurant is located at the centre of the building and features a skylight as well as backlit shutters to replicate daylight. Back of house storage is not extensive, so much of the front-of-house displays are functional decoration.
The basement cocktail bar, DND, takes inspiration from Prohibition-era New York speakeasies, and features vintage Persian rugs, velvet chairs and leather banquettes. A raw brass-fronted bar is decorated with an art deco fan motif and is topped with Portoro marble, a fairly soft type of marble that, Bean-Pearce says, will tarnish over time and look "lived-in".
Pictures of 1920s dancers on the walls were hand-sewn with 15,000 Swarovski beads. "Because it's in the basement, it's perfect for a speakeasy - we made it really dark, really sumptuous," says Bean-Pearce. Guests can enter the bar through a 'secret' ground floor side entrance to sample the barrel-aged cocktails.
Vintry & Mercer has three meeting and event spaces: the music room, which can host 10 seated; the wine-red drawing room (10 seated and 25 standing); and the library (32 seated and 35 standing).
The library features a map-printed ceiling lined with backlit books - a nod to London's global trade routes - and antique-treated mirrors line the turquoise walls. The walls were initially lacquered but ended up being spray-painted and hand finished.
"It's going to get knocked more, but it's part of the charm. It just looked too smooth and finished before," says Bean-Pearce. The library and the drawing room can be interconnected, and the latter has its own Buster & Punch cocktail bar.
The electric-teal music room, meanwhile, features a bespoke Ulster carpet inspired by British regimental ties, while album covers decorate the walls and a record player sits in the corner.
Bedrooms vary from standard, superior, deluxe, deluxe studio and studio suites.
Deluxe rooms have king-sized beds and plump chaise longues or armchairs, while balcony suites have terraces that span the width of the rooms, and corner suites feature floor-to-ceiling windows.
The bedrooms more obviously reference the livery concept, with guild-crested pillows and prints, city and trade-route map wallpaper and velvet headboards, and curtains in saffron, burgundy and petrol blue, for which Dexter Moren commissioned 1,500m of Varese velvet from Designers Guild.
Just as in the Ampersand hotel, headboards are oversized, printed with damask patterns in a nod to the silks that the local mercers would have traded and carpets are herringbone-patterned. Leather cupboard handles suggest the handles of a travelling trunk.
However, the rooms do not lose sight of the demands of the modern guests and
include Handy smartphones, Nespresso machines and Marshall speakers, and the temperature and lights can be controlled from the headboards. "While it's traditional, there's a contemporary spin on everything," says Bean-Pearce.
There are also subtle references to the other main guilds, such as the pewterers and ironmongers, through woven metal wardrobe doors and brass or bronze finishes to handles and USB and plug points. Guests can peruse the full history of London's livery companies in the carefully selected coffee-table books.
The bathrooms are full of clever details - herringbone and pinstripe-patterned tiled walls provide a link with the merchant tailors, and baths feature the same rubber ducks as in the Ampersand.
There is also recessed lighting, heated mirrors and architecturally hidden ventilation grilles, accompanied by toiletries from CO Bigelow.
Mercer Roof Terrace
The hotel's rooftop bar and restaurant offers modern British cuisine and takes inspiration from British country gardens, with Verdi marble, hexagonal tiles and wall panelling and chair fabric, rattan furniture and washed-out timber. The bathrooms feature topiary prints and bucket sinks.
From the terrace, guests can enjoy views across the city, from the dome of St Paul's cathedral to the tip of the Shard, while dining on charcoal-grilled steaks, Suffolk free-range chicken glazed with honey and lavender, and Dorset blue lobster with espelette butter.
Chantelle Lighting www.chantellelighting.co.uk
Chairs and tables
Stellar Works www.stellarworks.com
Source Furniture www.sourcefurniture.co.uk
Style Matters www.stylematters.co.uk
The Contract Chair Company www.thecontractchair.co.uk
Furniture, fixtures and equipment
Blue Moon www.bluemoonprocurement.com
Designers Guild (curtains, headboards and valances) www.designersguild.com
GP&J Baker (public area seating) www.gpjbaker.com
Alma Leather (banquettes) www.alma1938.com
Crest Leather (banquettes) www.crestleather.com
CO Bigelow www.bigelowchemists.com
Lighting and heating controls, switch panels and room numbers
Vivid Hospitality Solutions www.vividsystem.com
Contact and details
Vintry & Mercer, 19-20 Garlick Hill, London EC4V 2AU
020 3908 8088
Opened 4 February
Owner/operator FR Holdings
Design Dexter Moren Associates
Starting room rate £175 (weekends) and £285 (midweek)
General manager Roberto Pajares
Executive head chef Chris Golding
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