It's been a decade in the making, but The Stratford has finally opened its doors. The latest venture from Harry Handelsman of property development company, Manhattan Loft Corporation, the 145-room hotel is the final piece of the Manhattan Loft Gardens project, which also includes The Lofts, a collection of 248 fully furnished apartments meant for short or long-term stays, which opened earlier this year.
Inspired by the glamorous long-term residents of New York's legendary hotels in the 1950s, Handelsman is on a mission to freshen up traditional hospitality and high-rise living, by merging both the The Lofts, The Stratford hotel and the public spaces in an innovative, immersive concept.
Located in East London's Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, the 42-storey double-cantilevered building, by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) – the architects behind iconic skyscrapers like the Burj Khalifa – is also a refreshing departure from Handelsman's previous building revival projects, like St Pancras Renaissance Hotel and Chiltern Firehouse, for which he is best-known.
Signe Bindslev Henriksen and Peter Bundgaard Rützou of Danish design studio, Space Copenhagen have layered the hotel's light-filled guestrooms and public spaces – which includes the lobby, Mezzanine bar and Allegra, the 7th floor restaurant – with their particular brand of, what they call, ‘poetic modernism’. This translates to a muted colour palette, rich, tactile materials – like natural woods and warm metals – and clean-lined, softly curved upholstered shapes that are revealed through a mix of bespoke pieces (like the bathroom vanities and mirrors, beds, bedside tables, and desks) and furniture from their existing collection with brands such as Gubi, Stellar Works and Benchmark.
On the ground floor, the capacious triple-height triangular lobby is anchored by a 10-metre tall fireplace, a standout installation called ‘Murmuration’ by designer Paul Cocksedge, and a curved interior balcony, that juts out from the The Mezzanine bar, encouraging both intimacy and a convivial atmosphere. ‘We loved the idea that the balcony opened up the space to interaction,’ explain the design duo. ‘We wanted to create an inviting space, almost like sitting in a town plaza.’
This is further boosted by the bar and the open kitchen of The Stratford Brasserie, which hums from the first plate of eggs served in the morning to last orders at night. Meanwhile, the hotel's other standout features include the soon-to-open Allegra by Patrick Powell, the former head chef Chiltern Firehouse; three cedar-lined landscaped Sky Gardens with sprawling London views; and artwork like the specially commissioned six-ton moving liquid sculpture by Petroc Sesi.
And, with the likes of Sadler's Wells, the V&A East, BBC Symphony Orchestra and London College of Fashion soon to set up shop in this burgeoning district, it seems Stratford is on the rise. But then again, you'd expect nothing less from Handelsman, who certainly has a nose for sniffing out emerging destinations.
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
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