Business Traveller donned hard hats and safety boots for a guided preview of the forthcoming Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, the largest hotel to be built in London in a decade.
Due to open ahead of schedule in early 2010, the hotel is situated on the South Bank, next to the existing Park Plaza County Hall. Nine floors above ground and three floors below ground are already structurally complete, and when finished there will be 15 floors above ground and four below. The construction team has used a “top-down” approach, starting from the ground floor and building both up and down at the same time.
Environmentally-friendly policies have been key throughout the development, with 20 per cent of the concrete salvaged from the demolished building on the site being used to build the hotel. Once open, a biomass electric generator on site will produce around 20 per cent of the electricity for the building, and the latest insulation technology has been used to ensure maximum energy efficiency year-round.
The hotel will have an onsite water bottling plant for drinking water, based on a carbon filter process, which means fewer bottles will have to be transported to and from the site or disposed of, and a “grey water” scheme will store rainwater for the hotel’s plants.
One of the major changes will be a new road system around the hotel, to create a tree-covered pedestrian-friendly area in front of the hotel. While the property is currently in the middle of a roundabout, the traffic will be taken on a two-way road around the building, leaving one-side largely traffic free (although there will still be a roadway for emergency access and two bus services).
When complete, Park Plaza Westminster Bridge will have 1,021 bedrooms with features including flat screen televisions, work desks and coffee machines. Many of the rooms will also have kitchenettes, and the average room size will be 25 sqm. The bedrooms will either face on to the central atrium - a natural light-filled space that will rise to the top floor - or to the outside of the building, with views across London.
The hotel will also have extensive conference facilities, flexible meeting rooms and function spaces, including a ballroom with a capacity for 1,500 people. The business centre will be on the lower floors, with additional boardrooms located on the higher floors with views of the city. The reception and lobby area will be on the first floor.
According to Andrew Swindells, the general manager of Park Plaza Westminster Bridge, the hotel aims to provide extensive possibilities for MICE business, combining the capabilities of the five other Park Plaza hotels in the city with the new facilities. “From a conference point of view, and logistics-wise, it’s a huge bonus for the city.”
Other facilities at the hotel will include a swimming pool, spa, gym, two restaurants (one of which will be a sushi bar), coffee shop and lounge bar. “It’s important that Westminster Bridge becomes a meeting place for people in London. The facilities, restaurant and bar will create the right ambience, with contemporary food and beverage offerings,” said Swindells.
“What we do not want to do is just have a boring hotel. It’s a spectacular building and we want to create a destination.”
For more information visit parkplaza.com.
Report by Sara Turner