Following its official opening in May, Hospitality Interiors’ editor Sophie Harper was invited to AMANO Covent Garden, to experience the debut of the brand’s first forays into the international hotel market.
A unique boutique hotel located on London’s iconic Drury Lane, AMANO Covent Garden is the first AMANO branded hotel to leave Germany. London was the obvious choice for Manex Properties – a joint venture between Excellion Capital and the AMANO Group – to launch the first international AMANO hotel, and when they discovered a dated office block with ugly orange and green panelling in the heart of London’s West End, they knew they had found the right property. “It was immediately obvious to us that this building should be a hotel,” says Robert Stafler, director, Manex Properties. “As an island site, there is light coming in from all four sides of the building, which is extremely rare in London.”
In 2019 the Woods Bagot London Studio was appointed as lead architect and interior designer. Starting works with an elaborate redevelopment programme in the late summer of 2020, Woods Bagot’s vision saw the workspace levels converted, resulting in six floors of high-end hotel rooms, as well as a lounge bar in the basement and a roof extension with bar and terrace offering panoramic views across central London to the south. The aim was to create a unique hotel space that was not only a beautiful and vibrant addition to Covent Garden, but forms part of the local community.
Careful consideration was given to respect the building’s history and its iconic local context, and Manex Properties and Woods Bagot made sure their plans were transparent and discussions were kept open with local residents every step of the way. “A hotel developer is often viewed by local residents with apprehension, because there are a lot of hotel developers who progress the idea of the hotel, in planning terms, and then disappear,” says Robert, “but the acquisition of this old office building, and wanting to turn it into a hotel, was grounded in a desire to remain involved in this asset forever.”
The original building was developed as an office in the 1980s, with a facade and frontage to match its time, five floors of workspace, an accessible rooftop and a curved corner entrance. Now, with the Woods Bagot team having reworked every square inch of the property, significant enhancements have been made to the mansard, facade and windows to introduce better coherence with the neighbouring buildings while ensuring a contemporary appearance. As part of a catalogue of measures taken to benefit the local community, the entrance and lobby have been repositioned further west along Russell Street. The substantial redevelopment of the property includes the renovation of the original high-quality brick and stone, while introducing metal windows and Juliette balconies to create a contemporary yet timeless aesthetic, which has given the building a new character entirely.
Now a chic hotel with plenty of personality, AMANO Covent Garden offers 141 guest rooms, a lounge bar, restaurant, and fabulous roof terrace and bar with panoramic views across central London. Inspiration for the interiors has largely come from the hotel’s location in the heart of the West End, taking the drama and glamour from the stage to recreate the exuberance and character of the close-by theatres.
Guest rooms are laid out like elaborate dressing rooms, with lit wardrobes, feature lighting and giant headboards – all cocooned in dark and moody charcoal greys with gold accenting. In some of the rooms, guests are treated to the ultimate bathing experience, with shining gold freestanding tubs set in front of enormous floor-to-ceiling curved windows that look out across theatreland – a fun addition for the exhibitionist!
The lounge bar in the building’s lower ground floor is a complementary medley of sumptuous socialising spaces. A relaxed bar area with room to enjoy the regular DJ sets sits at the front, while the length of the marbled bar with feature skylight leads the way to cosy seating by the fireplace, opposite jewel-blue banquettes that can be sectioned off for more intimate events.
hotel’s crowning glory is the bar and terrace, which offer magnificent city views from the building’s rooftop. Making the most of the existing mansard, the architectural team at Woods Bagot was able to extend and rework the roof to include floor-to-ceiling windows behind the bar that not only allow daylight to flood through, but beautifully frame the view of London’s skyline- which is then reflected in the mirrored walls opposite, behind large velvet banquettes. Stepping outside onto the roof terrace on a summer’s day feels almost as though you’ve walked straight into a bar somewhere in the Mediterranean – only the view gives the game away. Chic furniture and walls filled with greenery give the space a relaxed, effortless feel, while the covered bar area could just as easily be primed for the hottest party in town.
As well as having taken inspiration from the property’s locale, the changing seasons have played a role in the design of the interiors in a subtle way that brings everything together. From the colour palette and textures used to create a clash of cool and warmth, to the sophisticated lighting design, the structure and ambience of each space flows and connects. Commenting on her experience leading the interior design on the project, Brooke Radtke, associate interior designer at Woods Bagot, says: “We have had an amazing experience designing the Hotel AMANO Covent Garden. The opportunity as a designer to do a whole hotel, top to bottom, in central London, is quite rare – and then to get something like this in your own city, in such a desirable hotel location, is an even bigger bonus!” She describes how positively the working relationship between Woods Bagot and Manex Properties affected the final outcome for the hotel: “From the very start of the project, we were fortunate to have a great relationship with our clients. We spent a lot of time with the team, touring the AMANO Berlin hotels with Ariel Schiff (co-founder), and getting to better understand the incredible warmth and hospitality the AMANO brand offers. It was because of this collaborative approach and team effort that we were able to successfully deliver their first international hotel – one which reflects the true AMANO style, but still has its own quirks that make it unique to this location.”