Interiorssneak peeks

A London Hotel Transforms & Keeps its Heritage Spirit

by Erin Austen Abbott

93ft and The Pilgrm on Design*Sponge

Set in the Paddington neighborhood of West London lies The Pilgrm Hotel, a series of Victorian buildings split over various wings and sections with lots of little stairways and secret rooms. Before The Pilgrm stood as it does today — a celebration of its landmark heritage with sustainable design top-of-mind — it was rescued by Sheffield, UK-based design firm 93ft. Headed up by Tim Hubbard, the team including Amber Addison, Jim Butterell and Sam Skalli took care of the entire interior architecture and spacial planning of the hotel’s restoration, as well as designing and custom-making bespoke furniture. “We love amazing materials,” Tim shares. “We believe that great materials are at the heart of great design and therefore beautiful interiors. The reclamation and reuse of architectural salvage is prominent in all of our projects. It’s one of our particular trademarks that has a deeper meaning than just pleasing aesthetics. For us, design and making furniture gives us the chance to create legacy pieces and places.” That’s why the 18-month transformation of The Pilgrm was a perfect fit for the firm. From start to finish, the hotel was a strong collaborative approach with the hotel owners and 93ft.

In keeping with their ideology, what 93ft put back into the building had substantial heart and a story worthy of the surroundings. They worked with materials that will last another 100-plus years. “The materials we’ve chosen and the way in which we’ve handled them set a precedent to give guests an understanding of a sense of quality and understated luxe. We have designed and made legacy pieces for The Pilgrm that have the benefit of heritage, but also the style and elegance to transcend trend,” Tim says. “We designed over a series of wings and multi-levels which had a complicated layout, which meant we honed in on reading the changing architectural landscape from street level upwards.”

Part of this involved redesigning key features, like the ground-floor shop front which originally was hard to read from the street, lost in the everyday bustle of the neighborhood. “We wanted to give the impression that the custom-built shop front has been there since day one with just the right amounts of heritage grandeur, set off with hand glazed tiles in cobalt blue and gold finishing in all the right places,” Tim notes. The colors of the hotel will welcome thousands of guests over time, with hues and tones to soothe and restore. 93ft chose heritage colors that are reflective of the history of the building yet embrace its new direction. Purples and browns in the cafe pair beautifully against gorgeous green plants, while soft and deep greys define the bedrooms, and lovely greens inspire thought in public areas, such as the hotel’s lounge.

Aesthetics aside, the firm took extra care to make sure the roots of the building were preserved and restored, such as two of the building’s major original stairways — one stone, the other timber. Each were coated in years of paint, which took hundreds of man hours and techniques to reveal. They made sure that a restoration option was the way forward, even though it wasn’t always the easiest.

“[The Pilgrm] is set within the incredible hustle and bustle of Paddington, an up-and-coming neighborhood that sees the arrivals and departures of thousands of people every day via Paddington Station, one of the busiest in the city,” Tim shares. “London St. is [a] whirlwind of restaurants, shops and daily London life — it’s vibrant to say the least. The location is incredible! From top windows it has the classic London street views, with strong vistas over the skylines and some beautiful Victorian architecture.” Reflecting on the project, Tim adds, “If you can be sustainable, why wouldn’t you? When it comes to interiors, a beautiful historic building gives us a history, we like to work with what’s already there, we don’t believe in throwaway culture.” With their painstaking renovation complete, the reimagined and revitalized hotel now stands out in its busy locale, but with a classic design that echoes its history and will stand the test of time. —Erin

Photography by Tom Kahler for 93ft / @tomkahler

Image above: Sourced, treated and cut by 93ft into elongated chevrons, the flooring running to meet the bar and kitchen and alongside refurbished doors and windows is a real star of this room. The firm also transformed windows into doors to complete the vision of a sought after outdoor London experience, but inside. The green window to the left (formerly a wall) was created using decorative glazing, mirror and solid panels. It houses bespoke made lighting which highlights a luxuriously plump green sofa which was both designed and made by 93ft.

93ft and The Pilgrm on Design*Sponge
"Shop front designed by 93. The first impression of The Pilgrm. Simplicity yet striking and the first introduction of the branding. We sourced tiles that were exact matches to the damaged Victorian tiles we had to replace," 93ft shares.
93ft and The Pilgrm on Design*Sponge
Mini marble herringbone mosaics on the exterior steps set the scene for both arrivals and departures.
93ft and The Pilgrm on Design*Sponge
Inside/outside - a gorgeous corner seat in the cafe to sip coffee and watch the world go by. Leather seating designed and made by 93ft. A beautiful contrast with the cobalt blue tiles from the outside that creep into the interior as well.
93ft and The Pilgrm on Design*Sponge
Rough luxe - mini marble herringbone mosaics from outside joining to meet the concrete flooring of the inside. A luxury junction of outside/inside.
93ft and The Pilgrm on Design*Sponge
Paneling was reclaimed by 93ft from a chambers office in Derbyshire. Above, custom lights are designed and manufactured by 93ft, complete with repurposed original light fittings to contrast against the original London stone. Wayfinding light box designed and made by 93ft.
93ft and The Pilgrm on Design*Sponge
The main view of the cafe, including the window seating, gives a wonderful view out onto the street. You also see the The Drop Chandelier - 50 drops of brass tubing make up the feature chandelier designed and made by 93ft. An elegant modern centerpiece for the hotel’s main entrance.
93ft and The Pilgrm on Design*Sponge
The main timber staircase and the cafe counter. A custom design from 93ft, made from Atlantic Stone - a rare feature piece of marble, wrapped in reclaimed Iroko timber. This unit acts as both reception and cafe counter.
93ft and The Pilgrm on Design*Sponge
"We designed and made the stools and the coffee tables - we love that Sheffield steel forms the shape," 93ft shares.
93ft and The Pilgrm on Design*Sponge
"The landing at the top of the stairs. It's a pretty small space - which is why we've custom made furniture to suit. We've used wonderfully soft leathers and Sheffield steel to give shape. Remarkably comfortable and surprisingly spacious," 93ft notes.
93ft and The Pilgrm on Design*Sponge
Loose seating makes the most of the space. 30 German antique cocktail chairs have been given a makeover with new textiles in both soft and subtle velvets and daring patterns to vibe against marble tabletops. Charmingly, some of the marble used was from existing tables in the building, reused and repurposed to give a modern aspect and pleasing organic shapes.
93ft and The Pilgrm on Design*Sponge
A custom designed and built counter featuring a sheet of Guatemala Verde marble in The Lounge. The color from the marble contrasts amazingly well with the textiles from the cocktail chairs.
93ft and The Pilgrm on Design*Sponge
"Due to the nature of some of the rooms, some elements of the bathrooms are in the main bedroom," 93ft shares.
93ft and The Pilgrm on Design*Sponge
"The defining piece in each hotel room is the use of beautiful 200-year-old antique mahogany flooring which feature as headboards and wall panelling both designed and made by 93ft. Wear and tear is celebrated but each piece of parquet has been handled with care and burnished to a luxe feel and touch. The same heritage flooring appears on the floor at each doorway threshold and softly brings timber through into each bathroom. Original features plus a wonderful view. This room faces Norfolk Square and guests get the benefit of ambient green and beautiful trees," 93ft says.
93ft and The Pilgrm on Design*Sponge
The reflection of a room through the mirror. A pleasing aspect of some of the design features - including how the headboards are also handy shelves.
93ft and The Pilgrm on Design*Sponge
London architecture and green views over Norfolk Square. A classic London view. We love the view from the rooms - a rarity and a privilege in central London!
93ft and The Pilgrm on Design*Sponge
View out over London - roof detailing and glimpses of green.

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