One Warwick Park is but a few yards from the well which gave Tunbridge Wells its name. The property, designed by HMY with interiors by Envy and KTB, opened last summer with an evening befitting of the property’s ambitions to be not only a boutique, luxury hotel in one of the country best-known spa towns, but the pre-eminent social address in the area.
At first glance, the façade to One Warwick Park is not the easiest property to comprehend, as it is essentially a collection of four smaller plots with differing building footprints and profiles, all set across a much-used, brick-paved alleyway leading to the town’s famous Pantiles.
The project architect, Belinda Tonelli worked with HMY Architects to combine this cluster into one space. The public spaces, from the entrance to the reception, bar, lounge and restaurant, become one flowing space.
From the outside, the property enhances multiple streetscapes and brings much-needed life to the area whilst respecting the neighbouring properties, while the interior design immediately puts guests at ease with a warm, calm and considered palette of natural materials and tones. The public spaces primarily feature warm organic finishes – dark woods, cream tile and stonework, artisan metalwork and bright metallics pulled together with a skilful scheme which provides a cool yet cosy feel.
HMY Architect’s view
HMY was appointed to develop an extension to the existing Brew House Hotel, which only had 10 bedrooms, utilising other properties adjacent which had been acquired by the client. This included two Grade II Listed properties in Chapel Place and 3 Cumberland Walk.
The project architect, Belinda Tonelli, has been working at HMY Architects for 12 years. She has been assisted on this project by John McCormack, the overseeing partner and a team of architectural assistants.
The brief was to design a scheme that would maximise the development potential of the site, create a sufficient number of additional bedrooms to make the hotel commercially viable, and create a scale and appearance that would complement the adjoining buildings. The brief also made it clear that the new property must respect and minimise the impact on the adjacent Listed properties.
Belinda says that the building was conceived as a continuation of the dominant brick gable wall of King Charles Church and The Old School House. “The elevation facing Cumberland Walk repeats a contemporary brick gable wall twice whilst nestling between a copper clad wall and roof construction. Internally, the bedrooms for the hotel have increased from 10 to 40, with 24 new rooms and six refurbished bedrooms utilising the adjacent Listed buildings.
“Accommodation at ground level is where all the public rooms are situated which include a reception, residents’ lounge, snug, a bar and café with access to the School House function room. A new atrium space provides access to a new restaurant in 17 and 19 Chapel Place. At first and second floor levels there are 24 bedrooms with the circulation space overlooking the atrium.
“The design for the building was very complex with the split levels across the centre of the site and no area of the building being the same or repetitive, due to the site boundaries with existing Listed buildings, neighbouring garden retaining walls and the multiple basements. This meant that all the bedrooms are bespoke. Six separate lifts have been installed for service access and guests. The guest lifts have nine stopping stations.
“On the structural side of things, one of the greatest challenges were the substructure works. HMY has worked on basements in the Pantiles area of the town in the past and the risk of discovering further underground wells on this site was high.
“The very first task required of the contractor was to dig a very large hole in the ground and to remove the soil from the site. This involved multiple skips to remove the soil from the site.”
The struggle was ultimately worth it. “The public spaces at ground level are all inter-linked, the hotel bar and residents’ lounge, the Old School House function room and the bar/café overlooking Cumberland Walk create an atmosphere and ambience of a larger hotel with pleasing interior spaces. The new restaurant along Chapel Place opens into the three-storey atrium space at the rear with views from the bedroom corridors,” explains Belinda.
Interior designer’s view
Melanie Ellis’ interior design firm, London Envy, was tasked with creating an interior that worked efficiently with a luxury aesthetic. “The main brief was that the hotel must be functional – as a team, we thought through everything that irritated us when staying in hotels from inefficient lighting, badly designed bathrooms, inadequate fresh air or air conditioning to electrical sockets in the wrong places.
“The team was involved every step of the way and we worked on creating a neutral palette with amazing lighting, bespoke joinery and stone work to achieve the most luxurious results. Simplicity and quality were the key elements.
“The rooms were designed to be calm and luxurious, from the first foot onto the carpet, walls in soft dove greys, taupes, steel greys, pale silvers and golds and fabrics from Nobilis Paris, Dedar Milan and Zinc London all added to the luxurious feel.
“The existing rooms have walnut joinery, whereas the new build rooms feature dark oak and the Town House has silvered oak. Each room has different cushions and throws, and we followed five themes of headboards, wall coverings and curtains. Sally Coley hand-made all the soft furnishing with her team.
“The public areas in the hotel are interesting and diverse, from the welcoming open reception area to the tranquil snug and comfortable lounge served by a two-sided bar area. The furniture is from Latorre, The Sofa and Chair Company Eichholtz and The Seating Company, while the unusual specialist paint effects are from Bellisimo and the bespoke joinery from SEC.
“The stone floor follows through into the new build to the-newly created Terrace Café and the impressive Atrium which links through to the restaurant.”
KTB Architecture’s view
KTB Architecture has regularly worked in historic contexts and aims to blend contemporary, modern design with conservation elements. The firm’s work now ranges across the residential sector and has worked with Markerstudy Leisure on a number of projects over the past couple of years including the new Salomons Hotel.
Darren Furniss explains: “We were approached by Envy to assist in looking at some of the more architectural internal finishes, what started as an initial discussion on interior palettes led to a series of design workshops and ultimately us looking at the full interior concept with the project team – client, interior designer and architect. This allowed an opportunity to re-appraise the interior spaces, adapt the floor plan where possible and led to a full interior concept for the build.
“We developed the interior brief with the above team. Key was tying together a series of existing, new-build, contemporary and Listed structures as one holistic design. Flexibility was also a key element – each area works hard, often with a dual function. A relatively modest footprint is hopefully made to feel bigger through doing this.
“The key aim in summary here has always been to transform and re-brand the existing Brewhouse hotel into something totally different and unrecognisable – One Warwick Park.
“The existing buildings offered us a series of older spaces from which to draw inspiration – from panelling to how to divide a wall with traditional elements such as dados and picture rails. These were then re-invented as contemporary panelling and divisions to show where new elements were being inserted into the old fabric of the buildings.
“The tricks used in older buildings such as using pocket- and secret-doors to divide spaces alongside mirrors to give the illusion of both more space and light were used in a contemporary way.
“Alongside HMY, we also re-imagined the courtyard, or light-well, to form a central atrium that allows the Listed rear of Chapel Place to be exposed. This forms a real heart to the new building.
“Overall, the property is a design of contrasts – light and dark, closed and open, old and new. OWP is a design with some secrets – surprising spaces one doesn’t expect or views through to spaces one wants to explore, hidden rooms that excite curiosity. It is a canvas – we wanted to give a natural and neutral palette that would allow flexibility in finishes, fixtures and allow these to be changed,” explains Darren.
“This is one of the most complex projects we’ve worked on in terms of its many constituent parts and how these link.”