This is an edited version of my blog for The Travelwrap Company. Read it in full at www.thetravelwrapcompany.com
Kit and Tim Kemp, owners of the Firmdale group of hotels, opened Ham Yard in June. It’s tucked away in the heart of Soho, arranged around a little courtyard garden, set with tables and shaded by white parasols. Inside, sunlight pools on the pale wood floors, eclectic artworks cover the walls, colourful lighting hangs from the ceilings and objéts from around the globe are scattered throughout. Yet for all its bright and breezy pizzazz, Ham Yard is pervaded by a feeling of tranquility – you’d never know Piccadilly Circus, not to mention all the cafés and restaurants of Soho, are on the doorstep.
My favourite spot on the ground floor is the library-sitting room (pictured top), its walls lined with fabrics from Kit’s collection for Christopher Farr, the hand-embroidered Suzani curtains from her own textiles collection. Oh, but I also love the drawing room, with its hand-painted Scandinavian bureaux and its French fireplace…the restaurant, where the menu features the best of fresh British produce…the hip bar, where you can order small dishes, such as chorizo sausage rolls and barbequed octopus, to go with your Ham Yard Tonic (Portobello Road gin, Campari, St Germain, grapefruit bitters and homemade tonic). Downstairs not only is there a spa and gym (with a hypoxic chamber, if you please) but a 176-seat cinema-theatre and a 1950s bowling alley, available for private hire.
And then there are the rooms: 91 rooms and suites, plus 24 apartments, all individually decorated and furnished in Kit’s inimitable style, with floor-to-ceiling windows providing masses of natural light and an authentic Soho view (don’t worry about authentic Soho noise – the windows are triple-glazed).
The pièce de résistance at Ham Yard is its Moroccan-style roof garden, high above the chaotic streets of Soho, complete with a herb garden and an ancient olive tree amid a carpet of lavender. There’s a gold baby grand that functions as an enormous ice bucket. Well, you’re going to need a lot of ice in your Ham Yard Tonic…
Ham Yard Hotel, 1 Ham Yard, London W1D 7DT; 020 3642 2000; www.firmdalehotels.com; doubles from £310 per night