Oliver Kahf, general manager of the UK's first Hard Rock hotel, due to open in London next year, tells Katherine Price about the refurbishment of the former Cumberland hotel, treating guests like rock stars and giving back to new musical talent
What can you tell us about the hotel so far?
We're on track for a spring 2019 launch, as planned. We've been putting a lot of work into creating an engaging space for guests that highlights and reinforces this property's unique music heritage and iconic location, while also delivering a modern, sophisticated and stylish hotel.
How extensive will the refurbishment be?
Hard Rock Hotel London is going to be a completely different experience to what's currently on offer here. There will be more than 1,000 completely refurbished bedrooms and suites, a transformed lobby, a new Hard Rock Cafe with live music and two destination bars as well as a shop. It's going to look amazing.
What is your vision for the hotel?
Music is a force; a timeless emotional energy that punctuates all our lives. Everyone has that one certain song that means something to them personally, which reminds them of a special moment in their life. We're building our experience around that energy.
"Sound of your stay", for example, gives our guests the opportunity to reserve their choice of one of our 20 Fender guitars or a Crosley turntable and a carefully curated selection of vinyl albums to play in their room.
Guests can download selected playlists to amplify their stay, to listen to artists they love or to experience new music. Everyone wants to be treated like a rock star; that's exactly what will happen at the Hard Rock Hotel London.
How are you going to ensure the hotel competes in an already busy market?
When you stay with us, you get the chance to live the rock star lifestyle. For example, guests can release their inner diva and request the "ultimate room rider", which includes their personal choice of pillows, in-room scents and bath bombs. We'll also have their favourite spirits, soft drinks and sweet treats waiting in the mini bar and a music track of their choice playing in the bedroom when they arrive. We're also arranging exclusive access to music events across the city.
What are you focusing on now?
What can we expect from the UK's first Hard Rock hotel?
London is where Hard Rock began back in 1971 with our first cafe, so our starting point has always been London's unique music history, heritage and style.
But it's not just about looking back on the past; we also need to look forward. London has been at the forefront of music for decades, but in recent years has lost many of its live music venues.
This hotel offers us the opportunity to give one back, so when we open next year you can expect to see the cream of London's new and emerging talent taking to the stage at Hard Rock Hotel London.
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