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Chateau Denmark hotel plays homage to rock ‘n roll heritage

Developed by CAW Ventures and designed by Taylor Howes, the new hotel on Denmark Street is one of the most hotly anticipated hospitality openings this year.

28/06/2022 4 min read
This article first appeared in Mix Interiors Issue 220

Words: Harry McKinley
Photography: Mel Yates

Something is afoot on Denmark Street. Behind the listed façades, a mammoth development project is underway – with a 2,000 capacity music venue, the world’s largest LED screen, residences, workspace and a host of hospitality venues. A decade in the planning, Outernet has been billed as one of the most significant Central London shakeups in decades.

One of the first elements to land in a burst of bass guitar and a spray of glitter is Chateau Denmark – a 55-room, suite, and apartment hotel, that is an homage to the neighbourhood’s rock ‘n’ roll heritage.

Developed by Carrie Wicks’ CAW Ventures and designed by Taylor Howes, it’s an immensely ambitious undertaking and, arguably, the most hotly anticipated opening in the capital so far this year.

Why ambitious? Well, as ‘edgy’ hotels go, this one is on the extravagant side, with rates to match. It isn’t the rock ‘n’ roll of unmade beds and unwashed tee-shirts, but the hedonism of in-room bars that rival those lining the streets of nearby Soho; the irreverence of confessional booth wardrobes and near-nude photography; and the gothic glamour of cherry red walls and roll-top baths. When London luxury has come to mean a certain west-of-the-city restraint, Chateau Denmark is not afraid to disrupt.

“We pushed boundaries,” says Jane Landino, director at Taylor Howes, “and when we wondered if we might be pushing the concept too far, the client pushed us to go further.”

There’s nothing coquettish about the design, then. Floors are rendered in sturdy black rubber and there are leather lined walls; headboards from furniture provocateur Jimmy Martin are scrawled with audacious graffiti; and hand- carved Jesmonite fireplaces depict twisting serpents.

“In a lot of ways Chateau Denmark, like the folks who came to Denmark Street to express themselves, is an outlier. It’s quite different to anything that’s out there at the moment, but for good reason – it channels an entire street’s cultural history, while taking it on a journey into tomorrow,” says Wicks, explaining how the desire to challenge and even innovate is rooted in the spirit of the location. “It’s for people who don’t go in for half measures; people who are searching for good times with bad company.”

Denmark Street is, of course, renowned for its place in musical history: The Rolling Stones, The Kinks and The Sex Pistols all recorded at various studios; David Bowie and Jimi Hendrix socialised at its bars; and, in 1970, it’s where Elton John wrote his first hit song (Your Song) with Bernie Taupin. Chateau Denmark takes in much of its footprint, with various room tiers spread across 16 buildings. The majority of the standard guestrooms, or ‘session rooms’, are in the new main building, while suites and apartments are mostly in the historic listed ‘uppers’ of Denmark Street itself, each tier with its own design theme and signature stylistic elements. Walking from the lobby to the entrances of separate buildings, there’s a real sense that the street itself is part of the fabric of the hotel, as integral as the hallways.

“The challenge was to blend design schemes while having distinctive narratives,” continues Landino. “We dialled into the rebellious spirit of Soho, the history and the fact that music is key. The overall narrative imagines a time when punk rock and vintage gothic meet modern psychedelia. We played with timeless grandeur and Victorian historical layering. From a design detail approach, we embraced a ‘saint and sinner’ storyline, with the playful idea that guests arrive a saint and leave a sinner.”

Although approached with a nudge and a wink, this classic tussle between good and evil is manifest in multiple design notes, from the ‘fallen angel’ brand motif to the snake as a tempting force on fabrics, artwork and on wallpaper. For those who prefer their interiors less loaded, there are also witty, spirited touches, that speak more to period counter-culture, such as safety- pinned, Vivienne Westwood-esque tartan curtains and chairs featuring Sex Pistols song titles. But even if some designs are less risqué that others, Chateau Denmark is a property that wears its identity on its arm, in indelible tattoo form. It isn’t, therefore, for everyone; it may even shock some. Then again, what is more rock ‘n’ roll, or more Denmark Street, than that?

There are still uncompleted elements to come, in just- around-the-corner future phases of development. A bar, for example, will soon be unveiled at the corner of Denmark and Flitcroft Streets, a place where locals can rub shoulders with guests over one too many.

“A lot of places talk about community, but it’s rare that history and community is literally at the heart of what this brand is about. Denmark Street is, and has always been, a community – a street about creativity and expression,” explains Wicks. “I want guests to feel free from the traditional confines of hospitality and, who knows, perhaps even free from themselves.”

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