Alfred and Georgi Akirov, the duo behind the Mamilla hotel in Jerusalem (W*127) and the Conservatorium in Amsterdam (W*157), are soon to complete a three year-long project with David Chipperfield Architects transforming the legendary Café Royal into a contemporary hotel, in readiness for hosting guests during the Olympics this summer. Opened in 1865, the Café Royal was the favourite haunt of bohemians and intellectuals such as George Bernard Shaw, Paul Verlaine and Oscar Wilde (who once had too much absinthe in the Grill Room and mistook a waiter stacking chairs for a man watering tulips), and later saw the likes of Virginia Woolf, Winston Churchill and, more recently, David Bowie walk through its doors.
Chipperfield’s team restored the original 1860s and 1930s features of the listed Domino and Grill Rooms, which will reopen as a private members’ club and restaurant respectively, and took inspiration from the apartment of Regent Street architect John Nash to create the interiors of the hotel’s spacious 155 rooms with marble, oak and bronze details, high windows and large lobbies. The five suites, meanwhile, have been sympathetically restored by Donald Insall Associates. Our favourites are the Empire Suite, which boasts a massage room, and the Dome Suite located under the building’s copper dome, which has two terraces overlooking Piccadilly Circus and Big Ben. Café Royal opens in September 2012.