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Preview: W London Leicester Square

3 Feb 2011 by BusinessTraveller

Business Traveller takes a look around the first London property by Starwood’s trendy W brand, ahead of the hotel’s opening later this month.

Located on the site of the former Swiss Centre in the north-west corner of Leicester Square, W London has been over two years in the making, but will finally be unveiled to the public at one minute past midnight on February 14.

Regular visitors to the square will have noticed the new building taking shape, with its huge silver “W” sign outside the main entrance, and its transluscent glass exterior that will display lights and images taken from cameras positioned on the hotel’s roof.

The inside of the property is equally striking, with dozens of glittering mirror balls leading guests up to the first floor for check in. Beyond reception there is a lounge area featuring a large bookcase, with slanted shelves creating a Union Jack design, and filled with plates depicting images of two English characters taken by photographer Marcel Van Der Vlugt. The images are designed to emphasise “the duality of the English personality”, and are reminiscent of the style employed by Italian painter Piero Fornasetti.

Past the lounge is a stylish bar with a huge curved Chesterfield sofa instead of individual seating, encouraging guests to mingle over signature W cocktails.

Overlooking Leicester Square on the first floor is the hotel’s destination bar, Wyld, (after geographer James Wyld who exhibited a 60-foot global map of the world in Leicester Square in the late 1800s).

Décor here is a plush red and black, with an enormous mirror ball dominating the centre of the room. The bar is likely to be popular with celebrities given its West End location and the numerous premieres that take place in nearby cinemas, and there will be a guest list in place so visitors are advised to book ahead, particularly in the evenings, although hotel guests and SPG members will take priority.

The hotel’s 192 rooms are situated on floors two to eight, with floors nine and ten housing residential apartments. Standard rooms (or Wonderful rooms in W parlance) feel spacious beyond their 26 sqm size, mainly due to the open-plan layout described by Starwood as a “studio living concept” that “no longer recognises the bathroom and bedroom as two entirely separate areas, rather as spaces that flow into each other”.

In practice this means that W has effectively done away with both the traditional bathroom concept and the usual bedroom workdesk, and replaced these with a large white island surface in the centre of the room as guests enter, which doubles up as a table (with stylish chair), drinks counter and make-up area (complete with a basin).

Off to one side there are two enclosed toilet and shower cubicles, to ensure that “privacy still remains”, and past this area is the sleep section, with floor-to-ceiling windows looking over Leicester Square, Wardour Street or Chinatown. This design won’t be to traditional tastes, but W is clearly counting on its clientele being more interested in entertaining with friends than working late into the evening. Wonderful room rates start from £268.

The hotel’s penthouse E Wow suite (starting from £5,000 per night) is suitably indulgent for the W brand, with features including a lounge area with a circular Chesterfield sofa sat beneath a mirror ball sculpture, separate dining and bedroom areas, and a huge wetroom with spa bath, four-person shower and 62-inch TV.

Finishing touches were still being made to the Away Spa facilities so I was unable to view these, but W promises treatment rooms using Ren products, as well as sauna and steam rooms, manicure and pedicure stations, a retail beauty boutique, a Detox and Refuel relaxation area, and the brand’s signature Sweat Fitness Centre.

For events the hotel houses a 39-seat 3D-capable screening room, and two meeting rooms accommodating up to 30 people each, which can be combined into one larger space. The ground floor of the hotel is taken up by Spice Market, W’s signature restaurant serving South East Asian and sushi dishes and with design elements including lampshades made out of upturned woks.

There will also be an M&M World concession on the ground floor, a retail concept with three established stores in Las Vegas, Orlando and New York. Visitors can expect millions of the colourful chocolate sweets on sale, along with M&M-branded clothing and merchandise.

The hotel opens on Valentine’s Day, following a private “celebrity” party after the Bafta awards ceremony that takes place on the evening of Sunday February 13. In the lead up to the opening, W has released a teaser film starring Helena Christensen which can be seen at youtube.com/user/wlondonhotel, and the hotel also has a regularly update facebook page at facebook.com/wlondonhotel.

For more information visit wlondon.co.uk.

Report by Mark Caswell

W London is one of a raft of properties opening or being revamped in London in the coming months. The Four Seasons London at Park Lane reopened this week after a two-year refurbishment, while the Savoy unveiled its £220 million revamp late last year, and St Ermin’s Hotel in Westminster will reopen following renovations in mid-April.

The Corinthia hotel London is also now taking reservations, while Marriott’s St Pancras Renaissance hotel in London will open on March 14, and the boutique Eccleston Square hotel will follow suit in Pimlico later this year. Bulgari Hotels also looks set to open its first London property in Knightsbridge towards the end of the year.

The Hyatt Regency London – the Churchill is to undergo a “multimillion-pound” refurbishment of all guestrooms over the next few months, and Guoman’s Charing Cross hotel is nearing the completion of its project to add a new Executive Wing.

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