identity visits London’s iconic Café Royal designed by David Chipperfield Architects

The landmark hotel has been restored to retain the original grandeur of the property

The iconic London landmark,  Café Royal has been on the radar of the city’s social scene for a century and a half, having opened its doors in 1865 as a restaurant and bar, attracting writers and artists such as Oscar Wilde and Aubrey Beardsley, and later the likes of Brigitte Bardot and Mick Jagger.

Today, following a three-year restoration by David Chipperfield Architects in collaboration with historic building architects Donald Insall Associates, the famed establishment stands as a luxurious hotel with 160 guestrooms and signature suites, restaurants, and bars, as well as Akasha – an urban retreat-cum-spa with signature treatment rooms and a large lap pool.

Chipperfield’s masterful hand is visible in the restoration of the building, which has retained the grand historic public rooms of the 1860s and 1920s, with contemporary interventions that offer a more severe and refined balance to the overall design.

The guestrooms and suites are pared-back where necessary, with a keen attention to scale and material, and feature low leather sofas, minimal lighting and partitions that divide the various spaces which are designed to feel more like private apartments that you never want to leave. 

The hotel’s seven signature suites are, on the other hand, reminiscent of the property’s glorious past, inspired by the original features found within the Grade II listed building – be it the rich classical gilding of the grand Empire Suite or the original 16th-century wooden panels, beams and fireplace of the intimate Tudor Suite. Whichever suite one may choose, it is no accident that the architects have struck the perfect balance between old and new.

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