It never ceases to amaze me how much history is steeped in almost every corner of London. One such place is Ham Yard, the location of the Firmdale Group’s new hotel in the bustling heart of Soho and just a few blocks from Mayfair. The opening of the Ham Yard Hotel sees the area being opened to the public for the first time since the 1960s. The site has had a colourful history, originally gaining it’s name from the public house called The Ham (now called The Lyric Tavern and still stands on the corner of Ham Yard and Great Windmill Street today) in the early 18th Century, and was home to all night clubs and live music venues in the 1920s and 30s. Although damaged in the blitz of WWII, the site’s connection to music didn’t fade as it saw the likes of The Who and The Rolling Stones perform until the 1960s. A creative crowd of artists, writers and photographers moved in during the 1970s, but the site has been largely untouched since apart from the occasional bit of filming. That was until June 1st 2014 when Tim and Kit Kemp opened their eighth London hotel on the site – a contemporary London space with 91 individually designed rooms, 24 residential apartments, multiple drinking and dining areas, a 1950s bowling alley imported from Texas and 13 specialist stores. Here are the designs that caught my eye when I stayed in the hotel last weekend… To me, Firmdale hotels always feel like a night in a home away from home. There’s something about Kit Kemp’s interior design style that effortlessly sees her fuse together a luxe feel with that intangible ‘homely’ feeling. This time I stayed in a junior suite and it was pretty much perfect for Mr. Bazaar thanks to it’s vibrant and graphic mix of colour and stripes. I liked the contrast between the extravagantly sized headboard upholstered in a vivid print and the cool white linen of the bed, which gave me one of the most restful nights of sleep I’ve had in a while – bliss. The walls were covered fabric, which added to the comfort and tactility of the space. Ceiling-to-floor glass windows meant the room felt light and airy, with dappled light falling elegantly across exquisitely upholstered pieces and a textural wooden coffee table. Although colourful, the room felt calm and tranquil while still packing a punch of personality. The fourth floor plays host to a rooftop garden with gorgeous views across the city. With plenty of seating options, two ancient olive trees and a series of gorgeous flower beds planted with seasonal flowers for year-round blooming, from lemon verbena to jasmine, the space felt peaceful and relaxing. Literary expert Philip Blackwell hand-picked a range of books for the Library and Drawing Room, while Kit Kemp combined many of her own fabrics alongside collaborations with other artists to create an eclectic and vibrant interior. Much like the other hotels in the Firmdale Group, Kit created a handcrafted, custom designed feel to the room designs – the ribbed glass and alabaster chandeliers that were custom made in India are just one of many design elements that join forces to create this stylish space. I adored the pewter-topped bar stools in the bar area and how they contrasted with the creates painted in contrasting colours on the wall behind. This space felt opulent but not pretentious – a tricky design line to walk! I’d love to know what inspires you about Kit Kemps interior design for the Ham Yard Hotel?
// Photography by Will Taylor