Traveling to London on business and staying on for a few days to meet up with friends gave me the best of both worlds. This time, we stayed at the Ham Yard Hotel in Soho.
The hotel sits on a three-quarter-acre site a few blocks from Mayfair. The owners, Kit and Tim Kemp of Firmdale Hotel Group, designed the hotel with a distinctly urban village feel. With 91 individually designed guest rooms and suites, 24 residential apartments, an airy restaurant and bar, bowling alley, theater, rooftop lounge area, spa and library, it’s like a self-contained oasis in the heart of Soho.
Upon entry, the vibe is chic, fresh, full of energy, warm, very welcoming. There is a handcrafted feel with the one-of-a-kind paintings, uniquely framed prints, sculptures and installation art. One of my favorite installations is a clock made of 135 interconnected clocks which make ever-changing patterns. It’s a creative reminder of time as you exit the elevators.
While I prefer modern and clean interiors like the Japanese and Scandinavian styles, I enjoyed how Kit Kemp put together the various elements. The details at every turn are like a visual degustation.
At the lobby, you are greeted by highly trained and knowledgeable staff. From last-minute West End tickets to restaurant bookings to a late-evening in-room massage, nothing is impossible. Everything is done so effortlessly.
At one end of the ground floor of the hotel is the elegant guest library. The well-curated collection covers subjects as diverse as biography, history, travel and cooking. At the other end of the hall is the drawing room where hand-painted and inlaid cabinets blend with crewel-work covered sofas.
The goal was to separate the drawing room and library, encouraging people to move around. It feels like night and day—the library is understated and quiet, the drawing room is fun.
Unique guest rooms
No two rooms are the same. You must stay at the Ham Yard 91 times to experience each unique design.
Everything is playful with Kit Kemp’s ultimate aim: “It should feel as if it’s completely there for everybody to enjoy and it should bring out the child in everyone, piquing their curiosity so that it makes them slide on the floor and go exploring.”
All rooms are well-sized, (deluxe rooms at 42 square meters) with perfectly appointed furnishings and bathrooms.
At the hotel’s Dive Bar, the statement is vivid rock ‘n’ roll with neon signs, including a diving Jantzen mannequin, and dramatically oversized wallpaper creating a ripple-like effect down the wall. Other features include a 30-ft-tall orange squeezer, a ’50s bowling apparatus imported from Texas, and a collection of vintage bowling shoes. Zinc-topped bars, wing chairs covered in bright-color Hainsworth wools, and a baby grand piano complete the party mood.
The Croc is a private events area which houses the bowling alley. Its solid maple bowling lanes have been specially commissioned, making it one of only a few of its kind in England.
Guests bowl on a suspended brick wall with flickering lights and can choose to have UV pins and shoelaces. It’s pure nostalgia in a cool space, perfect for private parties.
The hotel’s website describes the 190-seat Ham Yard Theatre as “designed and equipped to the highest standards. The walls are lined with electric blue wool for acoustics, with striking tangerine orange leather seats and bright fuchsia pink silk curtains framing the stage.”
On the top-tier balcony are two beautifully designed green rooms with mini bar, shower, sofa and desk. Any performer using the green room would surely feel like a diva. The website also says the theater and bar can be booked for personal or entertainment industry screenings or for corporate presentations and press conferences.
The all-day dining menu in the hotel restaurant is said to be “as creative as the spaces and revolves around seasonal ingredients that showcase the best of British produce.”
The breakfast menu allows diners to mix and match. House-glazed smoked ham with eggy bread and grilled tomatoes, and black pudding bubble are guests’ favorites. Don’t forget the Breakfast Martini if you want a morning buzz.
The spa is whitewashed and calm, a departure from the look of all the spaces in the entire hotel. I love the Rikrak bespoke bath product collection. My choices of scent are lavender and eucalyptus—very calming and rejuvenating.
The gym has a thermostat for controlling oxygen levels.
I was fortunate to have my courtyard-view room on the fourth floor with easy access to the leafy rooftop garden with sweeping views of the city and Canary Wharf.
Whether on a business or leisure trip, the Ham Yard Hotel is equipped to handle any request. I can’t wait to stay at the next Firmdale Hotel.