“On this project, the word ‘impossible’ was forbidden to use,” says Piero Lissoni, the world-renowned architect and interior designer, on working with The Set group in the collaborative effort to create the new lobby and guest arrival experience at London’s iconic Hotel Café Royal.
Lissoni’s previous global projects are varied and extend to yachts, residential properties and luxury hotels including The Set hotels’ Conservatorium in Amsterdam. In addition to his architectural work, Lissoni is also lauded for his extensive work in furniture design, having worked for companies such as Boffi, Cassina, B&B Italia and Flos.
“Loved by London residents and international guests alike, Hotel Café Royal enjoys an unrivalled setting and an exceptional address as the living room of London and with this new lobby and restaurant they will now have another grand space in which to convene, converse and celebrate.” – Georgi Akirov, Chairman of The Set
Inspired by the lobbies of the world’s Palace hotels and created with a total investment of almost £5m, the large new lobby delivers an outstanding and glamorous entrance to the hotel. The space is now one of the largest in London, and its double storey includes the new 110 cover restaurant above, also designed by Lissoni. The opening of this new grand space fully completes the transformation of the hotel, now open for the last five years.
Opened in 1865 as the Café Royal, it was a wine store, restaurant and the venue for the city’s most illustrious events. The haunt of famed patrons, from royalty to celebrity and the creative, Café Royal was an established and iconic landmark on the British capital’s social scene for a century and a half.
In its latest reincarnation as the luxurious Hotel Café Royal, it has quickly re-established itself as a favourite for locals and visitors alike. Its grand historic areas have been sensitively restored while its 160 guestrooms and seven signature suites have been created in a contemporary yet refined style.
Located in the heart of London, with elegant Mayfair to the west and creative Soho to the East, it is ideally positioned within walking distance of London’s most elegant shopping streets, tourist attractions and theatres.
A hallmark of Lissoni’s work, the minimalist yet opulent lobby of the hotel is characterised by a sense of space and contemporary glamour that marries the building’s gilded past with its patrons’ contemporary lifestyles. As visitors arrive through the double height revolving door, they are first greeted by a view of the bespoke Murano glass chandelier that dominates the room. Designed by the fabled Italian firm Vistosi, the chandelier weighs over 350 kilograms and is situated at the centre of the room, above a table designed by Lissoni himself and displaying flowers by Hotel Café Royal’s in-house florist Jamie Aston.
The back of the room holds the reception and guest relations desks flanked on each side by large bookshelves containing a library of books produced and curated by Maison Assouline. The waiting areas feature furniture pieces designed by Paolo Castelli and by legendary Italian makers Poltrona Frau, Cassina and Living Divani available to guests and visitors alike.
Of the lighting in the room, Lissoni described the effect he wanted to achieve as “sexy and sensual, the poetic contrast against the darkness” of the traditionally listed room. Manufacturers used to light the space include Architectural FX, Atrium Flos and John Cullen.
Lissoni’s passion for food and kitchen design has led the architect to work with a number of chefs, and now with the internationally-renowned Laurent Tourondel who will shortly open the new 110 cover restaurant at the hotel. The restaurant will offer a relaxed yet refined all-day dining and will build upon the history of the famous Grill Room restaurant, established on the site in 1865. A new grill concept in line with contemporary lifestyles has been created, with the restaurant featuring an open kitchen serving fresh vegetables, fish and meat from the grill as well as sushi. Booth seating and lighting by Lissoni is designed to create an informal but sophisticated atmosphere with the decorative pieces used throughout the spaces handpicked by Lissoni.
“I wanted to respect and convey the true ‘feeling’ of London by combining the contemporary life and taste of the city’s inhabitants with its inherent elegance and tradition” – Piero Lissoni
The Set group is creating the modern grand hotels of our time with each address renowned as a heritage, and as an artistic icon of their home cities, such as the Hotel Café Royal in London, the Conservatorium in Amsterdam and Lutetia in Paris; each one lovingly and painstakingly restored and given a new chapter in their illustrious history to fulfil.