Brutalist Architecture Transformed Into Londons Most Edgiest Hotel
Birth of the cool.
One of London’s busiest hubs, Kings Cross St Pancras, has been transformed in recent years, but it was only when The Standard hotel opened its doors that it brought London’s creatives – and likewise the global jetset – to the area.
Before redevelopment in the area, Kings Cross was more of a pass-through destination, primarily after midnight (for goods, services and parties in rundown buildings). It’s no wonder why the destination has been rediscovered and is busier than ever.
The Standard activates the hotels spaces with the help of London’s creative community; from DJs, artists and nightlife hosts, they get the best talent in the city involved in events at the hotel. On any given night at the hotel there will be some sort of party, either on the ground floor, the 10th floor, or someones hotel room. The hotel now is an ecosystem: it hosts the global jet-set, along with local creatives, it’s a place to meet, hangout and work.
With three restaurants, multiple bars and lounge areas, a library and 266 guests rooms and suites, the hotel has it all. Even a bright ‘red pill’ to get guests straight up to the 10th floor bar and restaurant. In addition to a now-iconic interior design identity, the hotel brings a vibrance and energy to the city of London.
The Standard London was the first outpost of the group outside of the US where its roots stem from. Founded in 1999 by renowned hotelier André Balazs, the first hotel opening was in West Hollywood, California (its original investors were Leonardo DiCaprio, Benecio del Toro among others) later going on to open in Downtown L.A., Miami, New York and the Maldives. Since 2013 however, the boutique hotel chain has been operated by Standard International Group and part owner Amar Lalvani. Expanding at a rapid rate, The Standard brand has opened a hotel in Hua Hin (Thailand), Ibiza and Bangkok, with upcoming openings in Melbourne and Singapore scheduled for 2023 (with Lisbon, Dublin and Brussels following in 2024 and 2025).
Four years in the making, the concept for The Standard London first began with Balazs, bringing on board designer Shawn Hausman who had designed the interior for his most infamous and adored hotel, The Chateau Marmont, and all of The Standard hotels in the US. Hausman works with context and was a perfect fit to take on the Brutalist build originally built in 1974.
The former Camden Council office and Town Hall, the building has been transformed and repurposed, now an open, creative hub for visitors and locals alike. Hausman has infused 70s style and attitude into the interiors, from the ground floor to the 10th floor above. He brought his California cool to the city of London.
The location is both convenient and refreshingly different to other luxury boutiques in the city centre.
Directly across from Kings Cross Station, it is more than easy to arrive to the hotel by taxi, underground or overground train. Add to that the Eurostar at Kings Cross St Pancras Station, which connects travellers quickly and efficiently to the European cities of Paris and Brussels.
Just behind Kings Cross Station is Coal Drops Yard, where a lot of great restaurants such as Dishoom and Barrafina are located. It’s a 10 minute walk from the hotel, and provides a lot of local options nearby for dinner. There are also boutiques and other retails spaces along the way, such as Carhartt WIP and Nike.
All interiors are by Shawn Hausman and his design studio run with his partner Jessica. Hausman was one of the founding members and owners of experimental nightclub Area in 80s New York. His ideas and concepts are boundless, as he uses context as a starting point, adding in multiple references from his background in film.
Through his long term friendship with Chateau Marmont founder Andre Balasz, Hausman was put to task on The Standard London, 4 years in the making. Originally from California, the designer moved to London for the project, and found inspiration through research in places such as the Architectural Association Library in the city. At The Standard, the design is a mix of retro and modern. Pops of colour are everywhere, from the 70s style furniture to the quirky lighting.
Another collaborative effort was with London-based designer Craig Green, who was commissioned for all staff uniforms (lobby, service, bar) in addition to the in-room guest bath robes.
The Standard has 266 rooms and suites.
The hallways between rooms feel maze-like, it’s easy to get lost, but it’s all part of the fun, especially as the carpet is quite Kubrick-esque reminiscent of The Shining’s hotel carpets.
Room sizes range from Single, self explanatory, to Suite Terrace, the largest available space to book at 130 – 132 square meters with a large balcony terrace and hosting areas. All of the various rooms and suites are different, so find the one that suits you aesthetically. To note, the Cosy Core room doesn’t have any windows but has been ever so cleverly designed to not feel like it doesn’t. It is ideal for those that need peace and quiet to crash after a long days work.
The Champ team stayed in the King of Kings room, with stunning views through curving windows overlooking Kings Cross/Euston Rd and in bed overhead, remnants of the Brutalist buildings details.
All rooms are equipped with B&O speakers, televisions, toiletries, Craig Green robes, ‘essentials’ product offering, minibar and cocktail shakers. The tea and coffee set (The Standard blend with Ozone coffee roasters) in addition to the ‘essentials’ product offering, are all discreetly placed in the room’s cupboards. The ‘essentials’ offering is very well curated, from the Hibiki Japanese incense to travel adaptors.
There are three restaurants in the building: two on the ground floor and one on the 10th.
The ground floor restaurants Double Standard and Isla both offer something different. Isla serves a great breakfast, seasonal dishes and brilliant cocktails, while Double Standard serves more heartier meals from lunch onwards.
On the 10th floor, Michelin-starred chef Peter Sanchez-Iglesias runs Decimo, a Mexican-Spanish restaurant full of flavour, you’re sure to have a good time here. Next door on the top floor there is Sweeties, the late night lounge and cocktail bar overlooking the city’s skyline (it’s open until 3am).
The hotel has so many areas to it, it feels much larger than it is. We particularly love the library on the ground floor, where a wondrous selection of books has been incorporated into the interior design of the space. From sex life to spiritual books, they have the lot to read and flip through. On our first visit to the hotel, The Standard’s Stephane Vacher (Exec Vice President of Culture & Ent) suggested we borrow a key find: The Shock of the New by art critic Robert Hughes.
On our visit this time, London-based DJ and music presenter Haseeb Iqbal was hosting his ‘The Chessidency’ chess night in the Isla library space (held every second Tuesday), and we couldn’t resist a martini and go at a game. The programming is forever changing, diverse and engaging.
The only problem is that there is too much to do at the hotel. A one night stay just isn’t enough if you really want to explore the hotel’s offerings. It also opens up even more during Summer, when the rooftop is accessible for cocktails and 360 views of the city.
10 Argyle St,
London WC1H 8EG
Text: Monique Kawecki
Images: The Standard Group and Champ Magazine©