First look: London’s Grosvenor Hotel begins revamp as it rebrands as Amba Victoria

23 Nov 2018 by Jenni Reid
The Grosvenor Exterior

The historic Grosvenor Hotel in London Victoria will be rebranded as Amba Victoria next year, with owners GLH Hotels launching a total renovation of the property.

The grand, 345-room property adjoins Victoria station, with its main entrance on the busy Buckingham Palace Road.

Built as a railway hotel in 1862, it joined GLH’s Guoman Hotels in 2012 and is a popular venue for conferences and evening events as well as with theatre-goers heading for the nearby Victoria Palace and Apollo Victoria.

GLH told Business Traveller it will now rebrand the hotel as part of its smaller Amba group, which currently has two four-star hotels in London, in Marble Arch and Charing Cross.

The renovation will be phased, with the first refurbished spaces – The Grosvenor Arms, the hotel’s dedicated restaurant, and The Tea Lounge – already complete and open to the public.

All guest bedrooms, public areas, meeting and event rooms, the Reunion Bar and executive lounge will be gradually refurbished throughout 2019, with the project scheduled for completion by the end of the year.

At that point the hotel will officially be renamed Amba Victoria.

Amba Victoria bedroom

GLH said it would retain the period features and charm of the property.

Neil Gallagher, Chief Executive of GLH Hotels, said: “The expansion of the Amba Hotels brand, with the addition of the Amba Hotel Victoria, is a milestone moment for GLH Hotels.

“The brand was designed to raise guests’ expectations of a four-star hotel and offer an upgraded hotel experience. Each Amba Hotel has a unique personality in an amazing central London location and we know Amba Hotel Victoria will be the perfect addition to this brand.”

The group is also working on the Hard Rock Hotel London opening next spring.

Business Traveller recently stayed in the first of the hotel’s refurbished guest rooms, and ate in the revamped restaurant.

GLH worked with London-based design studio Goddard Littlefair on the new bedrooms and bathrooms, which will be completely refitted with bespoke furniture by the company.

While the old rooms were full of dark purples and browns with pops of bright colour and traditional elements like floor-to-ceiling floral curtains, the Amba rebrand opts for neutral colours, abstract artwork and a more contemporary feel.

Amba Victoria bedroom

Richard McCready-Hughes, Creative Director at Goddard Littlefair, told Business Traveller the team was inspired by nostalgic images of travel – in particular, the era of steam trains – as well as London’s great parks.

This led to the choice of natural tones tempered with outlines and trims inspired by smoke and the blackness of coal.

“The room needed to have a strong sense of character, but without shouting in any way. At the same time it had to have clean lines and feel instantly fresh and relaxing,” McCready-Hughes said.

The result stays on the homely rather than corporate side of hotel room decor, with warm lighting and decorative touches like a small orchid in each room.

There is less of an air of grandeur than before – but for that guests can still head to the cavernous lobby replete with chandelier, gold leaf-etched pillars and large marble stairway, or battle the throngs of tourists across Buckingham Palace Road to check out the hotel’s imposing neo-Baroque stone exterior.

The Grovsenor Hotel lobby

The bed is comfortable, loaded with pillows and a Hypnos mattress – a good place to sit back with a coffee from the Nespresso machine and watch the large wall-mounted TV. There’s also a good-sized desk and comfortable chair for those looking to be more productive.

The bathroom is simple and stylish, with white tiled walls, patterned floor tiles, basic toiletries by Alliance and – crucially – a good, strong shower.

Though not particularly big or flashy, this refurbished room felt snug and welcoming.

Amba Victoria bathroom

The same wand of modernisation has been waved downstairs at the Grosvenor Arms, which serves breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Previously a classic pub-style eatery with dark wood panelling and a chalkboard wall menu, the walls have been redone in a trendy dark blue and warm greys, while the floor has been sanded and varnished to a lighter colour which matches the new lighter wood tables.

The Grosvenor Arms

A sophisticated but relaxed vibe has been achieved, and the room was busy on a recent Friday night.

The menu is primarily classics like shepherd’s pie, beef burger, rib eye steak and fish and chips, alongside options like a very tasty Devon crab linguine or wild forest mushrooms and truffle arancini. It was a comfortable space to enjoy another glass of wine and a post-meal coffee without feeling hurried out. A two-course meal for two and a bottle of wine will set you back around £80.

Rooms at the hotel for January 2019 start at around £150, and though it will be a while before the rebrand is complete and most guests will get revamped rooms (at present only one room has been finished), the Grosvenor Arms and tea room are both there for a taste of what’s to come.

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