Simon Whittaker is leading designer at Orms and one of the people responsible for Crosstree Real Estate Partner’s 266-bed Standard Hotel at Kings Cross. A brutalist former council office block with little to offer modern hospitality, it has been re-thought to meet today’s ideas of what counts as comfortable. This includes some intelligent futureproofing.
‘Developers understand that inflexibility is not sustainable. They know you may have to re-use and retrofit a building any number of times, and that problem grows when you are refurbishing an older building, which may be restrictive in many ways – so you can’t actually do some of the things you want,’ says Simon.
‘Developers say they want flexible space to attract the widest range of hospitality tenants, so that means the right extractors on the roof ready for a kitchen, or a gas supply suitable for a kitchen, in case one is needed. This is the kind of thing developers want, providing the major restriction of the planning system allows them to have it.’
James Dilley heads the hotel and restaurant team at architect, Jestico + Whiles, and is one of those on the front line of the battle for the New Hospitality. His team has scored victories at Aqua Shard, the W Hotel in both London’s West End and the forthcoming Edinburgh St James site, Hard Rock Hotel and also one of P&O’s cruise ships.
‘Hospitality is being polarised. Either places want to be part of the city they inhabit, or they want the city to be part of them,’ James says. ‘So lots of people are asking themselves question about hotel restaurants, asking why you would want to compete with thousands of other offers around them, and not really trying and just becoming part of the cityscape, and others are trying to create a real destination, despite being part of a hotel. You’re seeing this too in shops, which increasingly have hospitality offers or cafés – so much so they don’t actually sell anything. The Samsung shop at King Cross is a good example.’