Tried & Tested

Hotel check: Ham Yard

29 Jan 2015 by Michelle Harbi


Luxury group Firmdale, owned by Tim and Kit Kemp, opened its eighth London property in Soho in June.


Ham Yard is the Kemps’ largest project to date. Their intention was to build an “urban village” on the disused Ham Yard site behind Piccadilly Circus, which had been closed off for 40 years.

The U-shaped development now encompasses a 91-room hotel, 24 residences and 13 independent shops, all set around a public courtyard that has as its centrepiece a large bronze sculpture by Tony Cragg.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given that both are new-builds, the Firmdale property it is most like is Crosby Street in New York, with its airy lobby, spacious guestrooms and warehouse-style windows.

The interiors feature designer Kit Kemp’s eclectic mixture of colours, patterns and artworks. The lobby has a neon silk-thread ceiling installation by Hermione Skye O’Hea, and a clever clock made up of multiple faces that align every minute to tell the time.

Next to reception is the residents-only Library with an honesty bar, cosy for a quiet drink – particularly welcome on the Saturday I stayed, as the bar was heaving.

Guests can also retreat to the private rooftop terrace, best enjoyed in warmer weather.


Ham Yard links Denman Street and Great Windmill Street, off Shaftesbury Avenue – a very busy area and yet you feel at a remove as soon as you enter the courtyard. Step back out and you are well located for Soho and Mayfair.


Rooms start from 31 sqm and are individually styled – some feminine, others more masculine.

All have HD TVs, DVD players, Bose docks, free wifi, desks, minibars, robes, safes, and bottled water. The luxurious granite bathrooms have good walk-in showers (suites and some Deluxe rooms also have tubs), TVs and Kemp’s new Rik Rak toiletries.

My third-floor, 42 sqm Deluxe room overlooked Smith’s Court behind the property – the quietest option, I was told, and I certainly had a peaceful sleep. Rooms looking across the front courtyard to the apartments opposite may feel less private.

Decorated in grey and red, it felt homely and had a sofa and two armchairs.


Off the lobby is the Orangery, an attractive space for afternoon tea. This leads to Ham Yard bar and restaurant, which has an outdoor terrace.

The restaurant is open all day and offers a seasonal menu – I enjoyed a starter of grilled black figs, house-glazed ham and shaved Berkswell cheese (£8) and a beautiful piece of sea trout with courgette, artichoke, girolles, new potatoes and seaweed salsa (£15). The service and atmosphere were warm and welcoming, and a good breakfast is available too.

There is also a tucked-away drawing room.


On the two floors below ground there are three meeting rooms set off a foyer with giant vintage sci-fi movie posters; the Croc, a 1950s-style bowling alley with a bar, dancefloor and Lucky Voice karaoke (capacity 300 guests); and a 190-seat theatre and kitsch Dive bar (hired together).

The drawing room and roof terrace can also be booked.


On the lower ground floor is a Soholistic spa with a steam room, relaxation area and three treatment rooms. There is also a gym and a hypoxic studio.

Guests can use the pool at Firmdale’s Haymarket hotel, and the bowling alley can be used when not reserved for events.


A fantastic property. Everything from the rooms to the public areas and meeting spaces has been designed carefully so that it not only looks fabulous but is also a pleasure to spend time in. The staff are excellent too.



  • HOW MANY ROOMS? 91 – seven Superior, 21 Luxury and 21 Deluxe rooms, 27 Luxury Junior and 13 Deluxe Junior suites, and the Courtyard and Terrace suites.
  • HIGHLIGHTS The quirky yet luxurious design, inventive art collection and spacious, homely rooms.
  • PRICE Internet rates for a flexible midweek stay in March started from £372 for a Superior room.
  • CONTACT Ham Yard hotel, 1 Ham Yard; tel +44 (0)20 3642 2000;


Michelle Harbi

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