Kinnersley Kent Design revamps London’s iconic The Athenaeum Hotel

Design studio Kinnersley Kent Design, which has studios in both London and Dubai, has completed the multi-million-pound refurbishment of one of London’s most iconic hotels – The Athenaeum Hotel & Residences – remodeling the interiors and adding new layers of subtle glamour to this family-run hotel.

The scope of works undertaken by Kinnersley Kent Design included brand strategy, positioning and identity work, as well as external architectural works and a full interior architectural and design renovation, transforming the hotel’s public spaces, from the lobby, lounge and first floor meeting areas to a new bar and all-day dining restaurant.

Speaking of the design approach to the project, Jill Higgins, partner at Kinnersley Kent Design, explains: “Above all, we were looking to open the hotel up in terms of light, space, circulation and visibility. The building’s original art deco nature has also been brought back to life by replacing the ground floor elevation with an elegant bronze façade with brass details referencing the 1930s modernist style.”

Kinnersley Kent Design’s brand director Lindie Kramers says that the re-branding project included interviewing 20 key staff members to get a real insider feel for the hotel and subsequently designing almost 80 individual items, from menus and coasters through to luggage tags, cocktail invitations, notepads, pencils and guest postcards.

“Our repositioning strategy was based on celebrating this individuality,” explains Kramers. “This one-of-a-kind hotel offers a refreshing alternative for guests seeking a more personalised experience and our aim was to ensure the customer was at the heart of that proposition. This formed the foundation of our new brand ethos – ‘Stay Individual’ – which is brought to life across all branding materials.”

Lobby and interiors palette

For the newly-remodeled, double-height lobby area – where the whole mezzanine galleried section has been squared off and pulled back to double the available space – the design team mixed classic British furniture items with contemporary and mid-century European pieces.

“We think of it as ‘mismatching’ with an educated, curated eye,” says Higgins, adding that the chosen materials palette was “rich and understated”.

The scheme features lots of contrast and texture, with high-gloss finishes and elegant metal forms set against a muted colour palette, punctuated by bright and contemporary accents. Materials include mesh-within-glass and a curated rose bronze that the design team created to get the exact look and feel required for the galleried balustrade to the mezzanine.

Metal screens create semi-private zoning between the open-plan lobby and restaurant space, while the columns, which are a strong feature of the space, are clad in a dark timber.

Galvin at The Athenaeum

Michelin-starred chefs The Galvin Brothers are now in charge of the full food and beverage offer at The Athenaeum, which ranges from all meals and snacks from breakfast-time through to dinner. The entire ground floor has been designated as potential hospitality space, with a new espresso bar serving the lobby, as well as afternoon tea later in the day.

“The food and beverage offer takes up the whole width of the right hand side of the space,” says Higgins. “The new, more open restaurant space was created to be both subtle and refined, offering casual fine dining with food very much the hero. The aim is to attract both guests and local residents and business users in Mayfair, where the demographic has changed notably in the past decade, with the area attracting larger numbers of young people.”

An existing, centerpiece chandelier in the restaurant was retained because it was in great condition and, with its mid-century aesthetic, fitted perfectly with the style of the new furnishings on the ground floor. All tables were bespoke-designed by Kinnersley Kent Design to create the optimum arrangement of seating within the space.

The bar at The Athenaeum

The bar features a dark and contemporary palette of blue-green, lemon yellow and stylish green suede, velvet and leather, with full-height glass walls backed by the tropical feel of the full-height ‘Living Wall’ greenery outside. The bar itself creates a focal point within the space, flanked by bespoke cabinets, which hold the hotel’s whisky collection as well as a curated selection of interesting artefacts, chosen by the design team. The bar’s design takes the signature use of reeded finishes to another level, via a high-gloss reeded black front with stepped brass details and a Nero Dorato marble bar-top with gold and white geometric veining. Back-lit glass shelves create a framework for the display of Giancarlo Mancino’s bespoke glassware.

Stand-out pieces include a bespoke-designed console and rugs. Seating is also a carefully-chosen mix of black velvet and brass barstools, lounge chairs in butternut velvet and armchairs with a black leather exterior. There are sofas for more serious lounging, including velvet Chesterfields, while the small drinks tables feature a brass base and Nero Marquina marble tops and the larger ones a black base and Verde Guatemala marble tops. Flooring is white-oiled oak, as in the restaurant. Also at the rear of the space, a screen plays a bespoke film sequence in a reference to the hotel’s long history of links with Hollywood greats, including former guests Elizabeth Taylor, Marlon Brando, Shirley Maclaine, Cary Grant, John Wayne and Russell Crowe.

Jeremy Hopkins, general manager at The Athenaeum, concludes: “We’ve worked very hard with Kinnersley Kent Design to get every detail absolutely right and we knew almost immediately that they were able to share our vision for the hotel. London may well have the most diverse hotel offering in the world, but luxury hotels now have to meet the demands of today’s guests. Our guests are confident, stylish and independent and our reception mirrors their character, enabling us to meet their expectations.”