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The Caterer

Gordon Campbell Gray

12 May 2005
Gordon Campbell Gray

Overall ranking: 27

Hotelier ranking: 8

Snapshot

Gordon Campbell Gray is the founder and managing director of One Aldwych, the iconic boutique hotel that was hailed as the most innovative luxury hotel in London when it opened in 1998. The hotel, an AA top 200 property with five red stars and two rosettes, set new standards others are still trying to match.

In late 2003, he opened the luxury Carlisle Bay hotel on the Caribbean island of Antigua as the first of a small collection of overseas developments.

Career guide

Despite walking out of hotel school, Campbell Gray worked through all hotel departments at a variety of properties before landing the role of assistant food and beverage controller at London's Portman InterContinental aged 22. He was promoted to purchasing manager but then his career was put on hold for six years or so as he ran projects for Save the Children in Bangladesh, Morocco and Nicaragua.

He returned to the UK in 1982 and bought the old Dorchester hotel in Oxfordshire, which he redesigned and relaunched as The Feathers at Woodstock. The stylish Draycott in London's Chelsea district followed in 1987 on the site of a neglected club.

After selling the hotels, Campbell Gray moved to New York's Long Island to buy, refurbish and run the Maidstone Arms in East Hampton.

In January 1996 he bought the Edwardian Inveresk House in London and reopened it in July 1998 as One Aldwych. He set up Campbell Gray Hotels in 2003 to develop a small collection of individual, luxury hotels in Europe and the Caribbean.

What we think

Campbell Gray, who was voted the Caterer Hotelier of the Year in 2002, redefined the concept of luxury with One Aldwych, where he worked closely with interior designer Mary Fox-Linton. His flair for design and marketing was illustrated at the Maidstone Arms where his bid to make it a year-round success included changing the décor and fabrics each summer and winter to match the season.

To hone his vision for the "modern classic" luxury hotel that was to be One Aldwych, Campbell Gray visited 120 of the world's top establishments. He rejected their "dripping deluxeness" and superfluous touches in favour of a more subtle and sophisticated approach that was original and modern but not "relentlessly fashionable".

Believing that a purely design-led hotel had no longevity, Campbell Gray put personal service and comfort at the top of his agenda.

His originality unnerved the money men and he endured 18 months of ‘nos' from 66 financial institutions before he could secure the funding for One Aldwych.

One Aldwich is permeated by Campbell Gray's ethical passion for the environment and about the individual (a concern that extends to staff as well as guests). The hotel has won many awards for its investment in people and its green initiatives, which range from food sourcing and energy-saving to the use of low-toxicity paints, toiletries and cleaning agents.

Carlisle Bay, his first overseas project, won the Tatler Travel Award's Hotel of the Year within 12 months of opening.

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