Hotel Online  Special Report

Rocco Forte Commences US$28.48 million
Renovation of Brown's Hotel, London
Icon to Reopen in Spring 2005, Restoring its Legendary Standing
London , June 2, 2004 – Brown’s Hotel, London’s beloved “Grand Dame”, is undergoing an extensive renovation under designer Olga Polizzi, whose talents have led to the restoration of numerous European legends under the Rocco Forte Hotels banner.  The luxury hotel, considered the epitome of elegant English hospitality, has closed for the duration of the US$28.48 million (£16 million) project.  It will reopen next spring boasting a new design that pays homage to the property’s historic significance and traditions, while offering a more contemporary feel.  And guests can rest assured that when the hotel reopens, they will be 
Brown's Hotel
Albemarle Street, Mayfair
London W1S 4BP, United Kingdom
greeted warmly by the familiar faces of the hotel’s returning contingent of dedicated staff.

The renovation will touch nearly every aspect of this Mayfair favorite.  In the 117 guestrooms, a variety of softer color schemes will be featured, all reflecting a refined English charm that retains the sophistication for which the hotel is known, but with a modern flair.  Lighter fabrics will include natural linens and silks, with angora throws on the beds.  Distinctive lighting, offering a combination of current designs along with antiques, will brighten the rooms.  Artwork by young English artists will grace the painted walls, providing a further nod to contemporary times.  Many rooms will have sofas or chaise longues, and all will sport at least one antique from the 30s, 40s or 50s.  The majority of guest accommodations will have new walk-in wardrobes and mirrored foyers.  The latest technology, including broadband internet connections and flat screen LCD televisions, will truly bring rooms into the 21st century. 

Each of the twelve guest suites, which offer a charming fireplace in the sitting room, will be individually designed.  These new suites will be larger than the previous suites and have been strategically located to have the best views overlooking Albemarle Street . Mansard rooms on the hotel’s top floor will feature timber floors, long banquettes at the windows and photos of well-known English politicians and writers who have a connection to the hotel. 

Bathrooms will offer luxurious bush-hammered limestone walls, mosaic-tiled floors and separate walk-in showers.  The larger suites will have double walk-in showers and wall-mounted flat-screen televisions.

A fresh new design will be reflected in the public areas of the hotel, while incorporating signature elements such as Edwardian oak paneling, Jacobean detailed plaster ceilings, historic stained glass and open fireplaces in the lounge.  Black and white mosaic floors will be featured in the reception lobby as well as entrance areas at Albemarle Street and Dover Street , and the concierge desk will be moved to a more central area at the Albemarle Street entrance. 

The Bar will be opened up to include the former Library restaurant, and stained glass will be featured behind the extended bar top.  There will be wooden floors and contemporary furnishings to include leather and tapestry fabrics.  Brown’s English Tea Room will serve the best afternoon tea in London . The restaurant, to be known as Brown’s Grill, will retain its clubby feel, but with a brighter, more elegant ambiance.  Banquette booths will be added for further privacy and space, wood paneling will be white-washed, and lighting will be 1930s lanterns as well as specially commissioned wall fixtures.

A new business center will be added, as will a fitness center with four spa treatment rooms.

Brown’s Hotel became part of the Rocco Forte collection in July 2003.  It was first established in 1837 by former gentleman’s servant, James Brown, when he acquired four adjacent houses on Dover Street .  In 1859, the hotel was bought by James John Ford who then extended it to include the St. George’s Hotel on Albemarle Street , which backed on to the Dover Street property.  The new hotel soon became renowned as a place guaranteed to ensure comfort, privacy and understated service for its high-class guests – qualities that remain in place today.

The hotel has hosted many famous names and events: Alexander Graham Bell made the UK ’s first telephone call from the hotel in 1876; it was the first hotel to have a lift installed; and Rudyard Kipling wrote many of his works there, having first visited in 1892.  Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin & Eleanor Roosevelt all spent time at the hotel, as did Queen Victoria and other members of European royalty.

Today, Brown’s is playing a central role in the emergence of Mayfair as a hip part of London . Further along Albemarle Street , creative director Jade Jagger has injected youth and glamour into crown jewelers Garrard, while its sister Asprey (which is just around the corner in New Bond Street , with a host of other top quality brands) has recently re-opened to great acclaim. In addition, two of London ’s newest and most high profile restaurants, Sketch and The Wolsey, are within walking distance of the hotel.

Sir Rocco Forte's luxury hotel collection, Rocco Forte Hotels, was established in 1996 to manage an international array of luxury properties. The company’s five-star hotels have individual styles, ranging from traditional to contemporary, and each hotel reflects its location and nationality. The collection is linked under the brand of Rocco Forte Hotels, which represents attention to detail, quality and dedication to the highest levels of service.  Rocco Forte Hotels' current portfolio consists of The Balmoral in Edinburgh, The St. David's Hotel & Spa on the waterfront of Cardiff Bay, Hotel Astoria in St. Petersburg, Russia, Hotel Amigo in Brussels, Hotel de Russie in Rome, Hotel Savoy in Florence, The Lowry Hotel in Manchester, England and the newly acquired Brown’s Hotel, London. In October 2003, Rocco Forte Hotels acquired the management contract for the Château de Bagnols, located in the heart of the Beaujolais region. 


Katie McCall 

Also See: Rocco Forte Hotels Starts Construction on Two Luxury Hotels in Frankfurt and Berlin / February 2004
Rocco Forte On His Way to Hitting Target of 20 Luxury Hotels / January 2004

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