The three-star, 275-bedroom St Ermins Hotel, Westminster, has closed to undergo a £30m refurbishment, which will transform it into a four-star de luxe property.
It will reopen in April, just prior to the Royal Wedding, when it will be the closest luxury hotel to the location of the nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton at Westminster Abbey.
New owners, a partnership of US-based property company Amerimar Enterprises and London-based Gracemark Investments and Angelo, Gordon & Co, bought the hotel in April 2010 from Spanish hotel group NH Hoteles for £65m. They are extending the property to 331 bedrooms, including 40 suites, after purchasing the adjoining offices - restoring the complete horseshoe of the original Victorian mansion block.
There will be a new restaurant, the 70-seat Caxton Grill, where head chef Hus Vedat, will offer an all-day dining menu based around a Josper charcoal grill.
The original courtyard garden will be recreated and replanted to provide a distinct sense of arrival before entering the lobby - original designed by theatrical designer JP Briggs - which has a curving staircase, balconies and open fireplace.
Los-Angeles-based designer Dayna Lee of Powerstrip Studio, is to give a modern look to the Grade II-listed building, which was once the base for the covert Special Operations Executive during the Second World War, She will highlight the hotel's art nouveau features and Rococo plasterwork.
It is the first venture in Europe for Amerimar, which owns and operates 15 hotels in the USA including the Hotel George in Washington, Hotel Derek, Houston and the Hutton Hotel, Nashville.
"It's rare to find such an interesting and characterful building in such a prime position, said Amerimar's chief operating officer, Jon Cummins. "We like to develop really distinctive, individual hotels - always one of a kind - so are enjoying making this grande dame beautiful and relevant again while celebrating her rather colourful history and dramatic original styling."
By Janet Harmer
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