45 Park Lane - London
The Office of Thierry W. Despont has collaborated with architects Paul Davis & Partners to convert at 1960s office building, formerly home to Mayfair’s Playboy Club, to The Dorchester Collection’s latest hotel.
The connections between 45 Park Lane and its elder sibling, The Dorchester just down the road, run deeper than the service tunnel that lies between the two buildings, ten metres underground. Of course there is a financial link since, under the aegis of The Dorchester Collection, both properties are ultimately owned by the Brunei Investment Agency. The two hotels also share an ethos flawlessly slick, understated service, and there will inevitably be some crossover of guests, with 45 Park Lane being aimed at “a younger generation of an established clientele”. But it could be said that the similarities end there.
Where The Dorchester is a doyenne and grande dame of the London hotel scene, 45 Park Lane is very much the new kid on the block. It has been described as the little sister of The Dorchester, but if there is a familial analogy to be made it should perhaps be of the fraternal variety, since 45 Park Lane has a masculine robustness in marked contrast to The Dorchester’s feminine grace. Here, you are more likely to find besuited businessmen chowing down on prime USDA grain fed beef in Wolfgang Puck’s CUT restaurant than the ladies you would find sipping afternoon tea along the Dorchester’s famed Promenade.
The hotel been designed in a contemporary style with art deco influences by Thierry W. Despont, working with Paul Davis + Partners as Executive Architects. Despont believes that every aspect of a living environment is a reflection of the personality of those that inhabit it. This philosophy extends to his vision for 45 Park Lane, which has been designed as if it were a private residence. The location and intimate size of the hotel define its overall character, while interiors are decorated in dark materials, contrasting with light colours and sensual textures.
Interiors feature a warm colour scheme on wall surfaces lined with cerused mahogany, marble floors, soft fabrics and internal artwork from British artists as well as Thierry Despont himself. The CUT restaurant is Wolfgang Puck’s first venture in the UK and features 16 of Damien Hirst’s limited edition ‘Psalms’ series, displayed together for the first time, as well as stunning lighting supplied by Netherlands-based lighting design studio, Brand Van Egmond, and Italian firm Contardi. There is also a compact, state-of-the-art gym room and a media room that houses the largest 3D flat screen on the market by Bang & Olufsen.
In collaboration with Despont’s New York-based offices, project managers Buro Four, and main contractors Kier London, Paul Davis + Partners have confronted the dilemmas of turning a typical 1960s building into a luxury international hotel. The development comprises 5,859m2 over eleven levels including penthouse and basement in a building originally developed as an office space, witnessing a number of incarnations over the decades, most infamously as the Playboy Club in the 1960s. Although the original shape and scale of the building has been maintained, as has the existing cladding, modifications have dramatically changed the existing structure. A new external fin system of undulating burnished metallic coated resin panels over sculpted rigid insulations now dominates the Park Lane facing elevation. At night the whole façade is illuminated to full effect.
The interiors continue this contrast of geometry and light throughout the building. Louvres along one side of Bar 45 overlook the restaurant, complementing the architectural fins on the exterior. The interior palette includes a rich mix of reds, camel shades and golds with earthy toned accents. Bedrooms feature walls in cerused mahogany and soft suede, and adjoining bathrooms lined with Ambarino marble.
Behind the polished surface appearance, the project team has gone to great lengths to ensure its environmental credentials. The previous building already occupied the majority of the site and was developed to almost the maximum height achievable. The team therefore chose to retain and extend the existing structure, rather than re-building from ground up. This had several advantages, reducing programme time, minimising cost and boosting the hotel’s sustainability.
The majority of the frame was retained along with the principal cladding elements, although the windows and internal insulation were upgraded considerably to reduce cold bridging, increase air tightness and achieve high thermal and acoustic insulation values.Use was made of existing services capacity at The Dorchester, including recently installed combined heat and power installation, by building an underground tunnel 10 metres below ground, 3.5 metres in diameter and 120 metres long to link both hotels. The tunnel carries power, hot and cold water, heating, fibre optic communications cables and a sprinkler supply, reducing the requirement for services space within 45 Park Lane, and providing enhanced efficiency. A large photovoltaic array has been installed at roof level to generate electrical power.
The sound across all public areas in 45 Park Lane including the bar and restaurant, was supplied and installed by CGA Integration who worked to deliver a sound system to complement the luxurious and contemporary interiors created by Despont, whom they had previously worked with at the Bar at the Dorchester. The only incongruous note is the soundtrack of 80s rock piped in to Wolfgang Puck’s restaurant. The food doesn’t miss a beat however. Its selection of beef is billed as “the widest and best in London,” and each cut is grilled over hard-wood and charcoal, then finished under a 1200-degree broiler to impart a truly unique flavour and texture. CUT seems sure to be catapulted straight into the top tier of London’s high-end steakhouses alongside the likes of Hawksmoor, Maze Grill and Goodman.
The 45 guest bedrooms all feature views of Hyde Park, with the suites enjoying a panoramic version of the same, and the Presidential Suite benefitting from the addition of a wraparound terrace. If the vistas over London aren’t enough, guests can enjoy the artworks Roy Ackermann OBE has selected for the hotel, by British artists such as Sir Peter Blake, Damien Hirst, Bruce McLean, Joe Tilson, and Brendan Neiland, or watch a movie on the Bang & Olufsen BeoVision 10-46 TVs. Whichever way you look at it, 45 Park Lane is a feast for the eye.
Words: Matt Turner Photography: © Niall Clutton