Dating back to 1886, the historical Barkston Gardens Hotel in Earl’s Court has been given a new lease of life following a multi-million pound refurbishment implemented by the Cairn Hotel Group. Re-launched as the Hotel Indigo Kensington – the Intercontinental Hotel Group’s first Indigo brand hotel – its interior now boasts a vibrant and contemporary new look.

Newcastle-based leisure firm, the Cairn Hotel Group, has managed this site for more than 20 years, and made the crucial decision to invest approximately £7m to transform it into a modern boutique hotel in line with Hotel Indigo’s exacting brand standards.

This extensive refurbishment entailed the individual decoration of 100 bedrooms – including the hotel’s 22 executive rooms and 11 junior suites – and a restructuring of the hotel’s public spaces.

“The new design has opened up the ground floor, so that the public areas flow together to create a much more welcoming and vibrant environment for guests,” says lead designer of the project, Jess Sutherland, from the Street Design Partnership.

“We have enlarged many of the existing bedrooms to provide a more luxurious stay for guests. Every aspect of the hotel has been designed with the guest experience in mind, within the constraints of the existing building.”

The hotel’s new bar – specialising in carbonated and molecular cocktails – extends this warm, welcoming feel. Themed around a 1980s private members club, the space features playful touches such as its newspaper-covered walls and high-back chairs.

This artful fusion of Victorian-style detailing with a modern twist was a key element of the Street Design Partnership’s design scheme. “I wanted to make sure that the overall impression of the design was vibrant and contemporary, despite the inspiration coming from a traditional viewpoint,” Jess explains.

“The features in each area have a contemporary edge to them. For example the parquet flooring throughout the public areas has been done in three different shades to provide a dramatic design that is much more contemporary and leads the guest through from reception to the bar and restaurant areas.

“The reception desk design was taken from the profile of a traditional cornice mould, but oversized and set on a curve which makes it bold but classic. The murals have played a big part in the design concept and have brought all the elements of furniture and finishes together. Finally, the bedroom furniture design has a traditional feel but the bold colours keep it contemporary.”

Despite the innate challenges that come with refurbishing an existing space of a particular period, the design team has nevertheless retained the hotel’s original charm, while modernising the interior to offer a luxury guest experience.