The newest of the Firmdale stable of hotels, Ham Yard is a light-filled, spacious new build in an ‘urban village’ setting at the bottom of Regent Street, perfectly placed for Mayfair and Soho. It’a all about fun here, from Kit Kemp’s signature cosy-cool interiors to the neon light-lined bowling alley and bar.
How on earth? That’s the puzzle. How did hoteliers Tim and Kit Kemp manage to find 3/4 of an acre of undeveloped West End tucked behind the neon signs of Piccadilly Circus? Ham Yard is a modern interpretation of a Soho court, designed as a walk-through. The hotel wraps around it in a U-shape, with suites, apartments and 13 retail units, slap bang in the midst of all life, from shopping and sleaze to theatres and bars.
Style & character
The exterior is bland but beautifully finished and the inside spaces are huge, from the double-height events area in the basement (with 188 seat theatre and 1950s-style bowling alley) to starter level rooms. It’s flooded with light, there is a magical fourth floor roof terrace – with olive trees, lavender and vegetable beds – and Kit Kemp’s talent for designing interiors that last, work in all seasons and look cosy always means great textiles and art. Don’t miss the mesmerising 135-dial digital clock and a wall of backlit Martha Freud pots in the restaurant.
Service & facilities
The friendly, intelligent staff couldn’t be more helpful, though we had to ask for our breakfast coffee (to be fair, they had only just opened.) There were lots of useful pointers about the dinner menu and wines.
- Fitness centre
- Room service
The joy of building a hotel from scratch is 91 rooms and suites (plus 24 apartments) that are huge for London. As with the other seven Firmdale hotels, several colour schemes run across all grades of room, interpreted in cushions, curtains, walls and headboards. Floor-to-ceiling windows mean triple glazed Crittall glass and modesty blinds are crucial: some rooms overlook the courtyard and tables and others the Soho jungle. The quieter side is Smith’s Court, with fine urban roofscape views. Beds are high, bathrooms are polished, ashy granite – slippery, I found – or white/black marble in the suites, with Kit Kemp’s new Rik Rak amenities in Gardenia Greenleaf.
Food & drink
Rooms at Ham Yard Hotel are not cheap but the food is fantastic value – not much more than a pizzeria – and that brings in people, including locals, which makes a great buzz in the bar and restaurant. The menu, like the décor, is light, contemporary British: a Cornish crab starter used tasty brown meat as well as white, you could lie down and die after the cherry pie and clotted cream, and wine carafes from £13 are ideal for just a glass each. Three courses from £25, excluding wine.
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