Artist Residence in Pimlico, London is the third outpost for the original Brighton brand. Janet Harmer checks out its quirky and comfortable look, featuring a host of reclaimed, recycled and individual finds
Need to know
The newly opened Artist Residence in Pimlico, London is a grown-up version of a brand that was founded by accident in Brighton in 2008.
Justin Salisbury was only 20 when he took over the running of what was a rather run-down family guesthouse called the Malvern B&B. He had been a finance undergraduate at university in Leeds when an accident involving his mother led him to abandon his studies in favour of familial responsibilities.
In an attempt to move the business forward, Charlie Newey, Salisbury's partner, who he met in Leeds where she was studying history of art, came up with the idea of inviting local artists to decorate the bedrooms in their individual style, in exchange for little more than a takeaway meal.
"We thought it would be a cool and fun idea and make us stand out from all the other B&Bs nearby," said Salisbury. "We also had no budget, so this was really a means to an end."
The newly named 23-bedroom Artist Residence was followed by a 13-bedroom property in Penzance, which also features five apartments. The Penzance hotel was an opportunity to refine the concept launched in Brighton.
"This time we made sure the artwork enhanced the guests' stay, whereas in Brighton it had been edgy and slightly crazy and, in some cases, terrible," explains Newey.
While the design of the latest Artist Residence has gone up a notch on the two seaside hotels, it continues to offer an eclectic mix of furniture made from reclaimed materials or bought from auction, juxtaposed with contemporary elements. Here the art is in the form of limited-edition prints.
Salisbury and Newey oversaw the interior in the 10 bedrooms, bar and residents' lounge, while Niche Interior Design created the 64 Degrees restaurant.
"We have stripped the building back and retained features where we could, and installed elements, such as cornices and flooring, which had been removed," says Newey. "For example, we replaced the laminate flooring on one of the suites with parquet flooring reclaimed from a school."
The ground floor had been reasonably maintained, but the dire state of the rest of the building and a small extension at the back meant the refurbishment took 12 months. "The style of the hotel has evolved organically," says Newey. "We must have moved the furniture 1,000 times to get it right!"
The bedrooms are individually designed, with walls painted in soft greys and whites from the Farrow & Ball collection, including Purbeck Stone and Pigeon. There is also the occasional feature wall in bare brick.
The beds themselves have either been created in galvanised steel by Sussex designer Ralph Levy, designed by Salisbury and Newey, or bought from Anthropologie. All feature mattresses from Hypnos.
Wood reclaimed from palates in which items have been delivered to the hotel have been recycled to create wardrobes and in-room larders, old army cabinets have been polished up to provide original storage units and tea chests are used as bedside tables.
Located in the basement, the bar serves cocktails and snacks such as salmon pastrami, pickles and mustard (£5.50) and pig cheek and mushroom ketchup (£6). The bar has an industrial look, with tin tiles on the ceiling and a bar with a concrete top and a corrugated iron base.
The lounge overlooks a terraced area where herbs are grown for the restaurant menu, and is intended as a space for residents to relax with a coffee and a paper. A selection of sofas and vintage club chairs are covered in distressed leather, mohair velvet (chosen for its resilience) and ethnic prints. A private dining room for up to 12 leads off from the lounge.
64 Degrees restaurant
An open kitchen dominates the restaurant, which is operated by chef Michael Bremner, who runs a business of the same name in Brighton. Customers and critics have flocked to the Brighton outpost since it opened in October 2013, with critic Marina O'Loughlin saying, "Food-wise, it's the most exciting thing to hit Brighton for years. Actually, maybe ever".
Seating is a mix of barstools at the kitchen counter, booth seating and chairs around rustic wooden tables. The menu offers four fish, four meat and four vegetable dishes, and includes wings, kimchi and blue cheese (£6.50), cream, parsnip and seaweed kale (£9.75) and cauliflower, shallot, caper and pistachio (£6). Average spend is £30 per head.
64 Degrees interior
Niche Interior Design
The Old Cinema, Chiswick
Mohair velvet chairs
Sofas and club chairs
Rose & Grey
The French House