Working alongside hospitality giant, Hilton, The Trafalgar St James is SHH’s first Curio Collection property in the UK. The practice boasts a host of high profile clients, among them Ascot, Wimbledon and Faberge, and were thus well-placed to transform the hotel into the “sanctuary of style” required. 

The Curio brand is inherently ‘independent’ in its feel and outlook, and so it was crucial that SHH designed the interior accordingly. “As Hilton states, a Curio must be a ‘masterpiece that reflects the best of its surroundings’,” explains SHH associate, Georgia Stevenson. “Each Curio is unique and therefore has its own ethos. We wanted this hotel to be authentic and embody the spirit of its central London, cultural hub location.

“Through the whole design process there was close attention to detail, touch points and the guest experience was always at the forefront of our mind.”

In order to create this depth and texture, the SHH team worked with an array of design talent and manufacturers to produce furnishings that reflect the heritage of the property. The bold scheme is distinctly British in its colour palette, with deep blues and pops of red and burgundy, and indeed celebrating British craftsmanship was a key component of SHH’s vision for the hotel. 

Among the prominent British brands involved in the project were Brintons, who delivered bespoke carpets throughout. The corridor carpets, for example, were inspired by the star pattern on one of Lord Nelson’s medals (Trafalgar Square of course commemorating Nelson’s victory in the Battle of Trafalgar in the Napoleonic Wars).

Elsewhere, Peter Millard & Partner created bespoke art work, CTO Lighting designed a show-stopping bespoke drop chandelier, textile designers Timorous Beasties’ contributed crimson velvet cushions and Tom Dixon’s ‘London’ diffusers scent the bedrooms.

This tasteful British-themed palette and subtle references to the locality extend through to the hotel’s 131 guest rooms. Here, SHH has incorporated Art Deco flourishes and references to the history of the building, which once housed the offices of the Cunard Steamship Company where news of the ill-fated Titanic broke. 

The main objective for the guest accommodation was to create comfortable rooms whilst maintaining a contemporary London edge. Tactile touch points, such as leather handles and fixtures, reference vintage travel cases whilst striking bespoke artwork featuring iconic Londoners reminds guests of the rich cultural destination on the hotel’s doorstep.

Adding to the independent feel, but proving a key challenge for the SHH team, each of the hotel’s rooms has a different footprint. “Within the guest rooms and suites, working with the existing building infrastructure proved highly challenging,” explains Georgia.

“Each room had its own quirk, most notably, the window sizes and designs varied from room to room – creating individual, bespoke fittings throughout more than 100 rooms proves a lengthy process!”

Another key area of focus for SHH was The Rooftop – the hotel’s destination bar and dining space. Their brief was to create a space that worked all year round, so a retractable canopy and heated space has been installed to shield against the British weather. 

“For The Rooftop we wanted to channel a clean, urban, and cosmopolitan London style,” says Georgia. “Inevitably, the design was hugely influenced by the need to create an uninterrupted, breathtaking view of the London skyline.

“With the rooftop, the most challenging part of the project was creating an engaging space that is exposed to the tumultuous British weather. Thoughtful material considerations for the furnishings and fittings were paramount in order to create a highly functional, weatherproof environment that still radiates contemporary style.

“The retractable canopy in The Rooftop is a unique design element as it provides the flexibility for the roof to be an all year round destination, but also have that open and airy feel in the summer months.

“This part of London has long been seen as more of a tourist destination but the hotel wants to put it back into the hearts of Londoners and bring a whole new level of excitement to the area.”