The Hilton London Bankside hotel combines urban cool with five-star comfort to showcase stunning design and artwork, says Rosalind Mullen
Need to know
The £120m new build was financed by the property's owner, Splendid Hospitality Group. The 292 bedrooms include 22 suites, eight junior suites and a 100 sq m penthouse presidential suite with private terrace and executive lounge. There are also 11 meeting rooms, a treatment room and an indoor swimming pool.
Public areas include the Oxbo Bankside restaurant and the Distillery bar, plus a pillar-free ballroom with six-metre high ceiling and a separate entrance that accommodates up to 700 guests theatre-style, or 500 in a banquet setting.
Spearheading the new hotel is general manager James Clarke, who joined from the London Hilton Park Lane, where he was director of operations. He says the property's target audience spans international, regional and local markets, tapping into the fact Bankside is a developing business hub.
"Some of the largest transport regenerations are happening on its doorstep," says Clarke. "It is within walking distance of the City, along with London landmarks such as the Tate Modern gallery and St Paul's Cathedral, so guests stay at the Hilton Bankside for both
business and for pleasure."
The owners wanted architects Dexter Moren Associates, which also created the interior design, along with Twenty2degrees, to create a hotel in tune with its urban surroundings. The design reflects the industrial, Brutalist architecture of the South Bank, blending rawness with refinement. The concrete effect flooring in the lobby, for instance, evokes the nearby Tate Modern's Turbine Hall.
Ben Tilston, associate at Dexter Moren Associates says: "From the exterior, we wanted the building to relate to its neighbours and echo the urban character of Bankside. Within, we were able to create striking stories directly inspired by this thriving neighbourhood."
Joseph Stella, partner at Twenty2degrees, adds: "We knew we had a fantastic opportunity to be part of the regeneration of Bankside. We took the ethos and quality of service synonymous with Hilton and combined it with the grittiness of Bankside."
So besides the exposed metal screens, bare brickwork, reprocessed tube station tiles and bespoke joinery, there is a soft, welcoming side. Furnishings are inspired by the decorative prints of Arts and Crafts designer William Morris, and use the gentle colour palette of the River Thames.
And with another nod to Tate Modern, there is an emphasis on art, which ranges from papier mÁ¢ché sculptures by British artist David Farrer to murals designed for the hotel's public spaces. The graffiti wall panel designed by Niki Hare outside the main entrance again echoes the tough, urban feel of the area.
Bespoke lighting generates a harmonious, hospitable feel. It was created by the design teams, and mostly made by British company Northern Lights and Danish company Fransden Projekt, with some Tom Dixon classics.
A quirky touch is the fox motif that has been dotted around the hotel - a reminder of a visiting fox that left paw prints in the cement during the building works.
Paper mÁ¢ché sculpture by David Farrer
Restaurant and bar
To ensure the 168-seat Oxbo Bankside retains a relaxed, buzzy vibe, the designers used perforated steel screens to give some privacy to groups of guests. The pressed tin ceiling gives texture, which is warmed by the rustic wood panelling. The Victorian black and white tiles are a reminder the area's rich history.
Heading the open kitchen is executive chef Paul Bates, who previously cooked at the Beaumont hotel and InterContinental Park Lane. His all-day menu makes a feature of British ingredients - so there's Whitstable oysters (£28 for two), shoulder of New Romney lamb (£23) and Dorset snails (£10).
The Distillery bar mirrors the energy of the Bankside location, and like the restaurant is targeting locals. It serves 50 types of gin and has its own distillery beer on tap. It is located on the site of Stevenson & Howell's Standard Works, an essence factory built in the 1800s, and the bar displays some surviving seltzer bottles, helping to create the feel of a gentlemen's drinking club, This is reinforced by the fumed oak flooring, leather upholstery and bronze-effect detailing. The Penny Wall, next to the bar, holds more than 16,000 pennies, dating back to 1860, and it is so heavy that it had to be reinforced during installation.
Oxbo Bankside restaurant
Bedrooms and bathrooms
All 292 bedrooms are air-conditioned and sound-proofed. They feature the Hilton Serenity bed, 42" HD TVs with pay-per-view channels, Wi-Fi, ergonomic work desks and chairs.
Nevertheless, they are a departure from the chain's more conservative style. Described as "urban industrial with a luxury twist", there are tones of grey, green, dusty pink and natural wood to create a relaxed, stylish feel. The industrial aesthetic is evoked with materials including concrete-effect wall coverings, limed timber and travertine stone. The lighting plays on the exposed bulbs and glass pendants framing the beds.
The bathrooms are mainly smoky grey, with sharp, slick, industrial fittings relieved by refined detailing, such as leather buckled straps supporting the mirrors.
This luxurious apartment has a private roof terrace and 100 sq m entertainment area with views across London. A herringbone walnut timber floor is complemented by a dark oak timber library wall panelling at the entrance. Light-coloured wall coverings show the large artworks as they would in a gallery and vintage-style furnishings include antique mirrors and mismatched furniture.
The Distillery bar
This is another nod to a gentlemen's club, with an eclectic mix of vintage finds, comfortable chairs, a warm colour palette and a cosy fireplace in the arrivals area. Pre-check-in showers are available to executive room guests, who can also drink and dine all day in the lounge.
The executive lounge
It's early days, but lead-in rates are £229 for room-only with £15 extra for breakfast.
Fransden Projekt (Denmark)
Furniture & furnishings
Public area fit-out
Public area furniture
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