Best Boutique Hotel –European and International
Lalit, London, UK
Situated on the South Bank in the Tower Bridge Conservation Area, the Lalit London occupies the former home of renowned London grammar school St Olave’s. An impressive example of its type, the building was the grand design of the eminent Victorian architect, Edward Mountford.
A previous change of use planning application, by Archer Humphryes Architects, for the conversion of the building into a 70 bed hotel was already granted before our client bought the building, this set the outline of the brief. The building was, however, by this point in serious disrepair and likely heading towards a state of collapse. An ambitious and sensitive restoration programme including a new slate roof was therefore initiated with brickwork, rotten timbers and cracked panels all painstakingly replaced to restore the building to its former splendour. The original plaster cornices and dado mouldings were kept throughout and refurbished, as were all the windows and doors, with non-original windows being replaced with new timber windows that replicate the original design.
The team established a close working relationship to create a bespoke boutique hotel encapsulating both the educational heritageofthe building and an authentic Indian experience with the luxury of high-end modern design. The names of the public spaces has reference to their school setting, thus the old Governors’ office with its LED-lit panelled walls and intricate plaster ceiling becomes ‘The Headmaster’s Room’, the meeting rooms are ‘Laboratories’ and the old clerk’s office with its striking purple mirrored glass features is reincarnated as ‘The Teachers’ Room’ and the roomsareclassified as Classrooms.
In order to achieve a bedroom count of 70, the architect designed an additional storey by inserting a floor into the double-height classroom spaces. Further development work was carried out through the excavation of a new basement area to house ‘Rejuve’ the hotel’s state-of-the-art spa, gymnasium, changing areas and treatment rooms offering Indian therapies.
Refurbishing the building has meant that all of its original and unique features and details have not only been preserved but now provide a unique reminder of the history of the building. The new interior design, although bold, doesn’t try to compete with the original features but in fact complements the existing and the refurbishment ensures that this historic and iconic building will remain a part of Southwark for another 120 years.
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