We visit the Athenaeum Hotel’s newly renovated Townhouse Residences, and speak to renowned interior designer Martin Hulbert about his work with this iconic five-star hotel.
In the heart of Mayfair, overlooking Green Park, lies the iconic Athenaeum Hotel and Residences, a luxury five-star hotel that sees itself as “delightfully English in all the right ways”. Recently, the Athenaeum has added to its fame by revealing its newly renovated Townhouse Residences, designed by the award-winning Martin Hulbert and his studio. Situated on a residential side-street beside the Athenaeum, the residences lie within beautiful, red-brick Victorian townhouses.
With both luxurious one-bedroom and two-bedroom options available, each of the fourteen townhouses comes with a separate spacious lounge and kitchenette. Whilst the residences are open to all, they are ideal for longer stays, large groups and families; for these larger groups, the residences have been designed so that they can be interconnected, further opening up the space and ensuring there is room for everyone.
With the recent opening of the new Townhouse Residences, DesignCurial visited the Athenaeum and spoke to renowned interior designer, Martin Hulbert, about his work with the hotel.
“We wanted [the residences] to be really informal and comfortable,” Hulbert begins. “[We used] warm colours because of the winter grey; [the rooms] are soft and comfortable, with a feeling of space and light. There’s lots of storage for long stays, lots of uncluttered surfaces, and lots of space for children to play and put things down. It’s very tactile.”
Hulbert explains that each residence has a mixture of bespoke and standard pieces. “They’re all slightly different,” he says. “We haven’t treated them all exactly the same. Particularly, when you open up into another room, you haven’t got a repeat of what you’ve got [in the first room]. The artwork’s different, some of the desks are different – the carpet flows, there are some things that flow - but the main ingredients vary.”
“We’ve left the beautiful doors,” Hulbert continues. “Really it’s just a classic, English, Mayfair apartment.” He mentions that as Victorian townhouses, the residences are listed – but this wasn’t a major challenge for the design studio. “They were already carved up in this way,” explains Hulbert, “so we haven’t really altered the architecture or layout.”
Hulbert was first approached by the Athenaeum to design their townhouse residences about twelve months ago. “It took a lot of working out – we’ve done six so far and there will be fourteen,” he says. As the residences are situated in a row of terraced houses, Hulbert mentions that his design studio is designing them “building by building. It’s nice because they all have their own front door.”
The elegant, natural colour palette Hulbert has used throughout each residence is punctuated by ambers and teals, alongside an abundance of carefully curated artwork – and even a few paintings created by Hulbert himself. “There are some bits of art that suggest where we are," he says. "It’s nice and nutty and English. There are some other pieces that I’ve just found, but then I’ve painted a couple of things.”
“I now have more confidence to be able to see things and just buy them,” Hulbert continues with a smile. “Then maybe they get used. When you’re looking for things you never find them. [Art] adds textures, and having a painting of real scale in one of these rooms is lovely. It’s a window – paintings and art are like another window out of the room.”
Hulbert has also drawn from the Athenaeum’s Art-Deco influence, using herringbone, silk, velvet, and leather to create stylish, comfortable settings within each residence. “We go out of our way really to find textiles that don’t look and feel commercial,” he explains. “I like colours that are natural; I love natural textures, and linen. We were thinking about Savile Row when we were thinking of these textiles.”
This is not the first time that Hulbert has worked with the Athenaeum – in fact, the interior designer is well versed in this family-owned hotel’s design style. Discussing his work with the hotel, Hulbert says, “I’ve been working on the Athenaeum for maybe fifteen years, probably more. It’s a long partnership that’s been going for all of that time; we get on well. There’s a good friendship and a good working relationship there.”
More importantly, Hulbert also says that he actively enjoys working with the Athenaeum. “I have done for years - they are very open to new ideas, thinking forward, rethinking. It’s a very encouraging relationship in a positive way. We’re lucky because all of our clients [come back to us]. All [our work comes from] word of mouth; we don’t make enemies in the process of our projects,” Hulbert laughs. “They always seem to come back for more.”
As well as beautifully reworked bathrooms with new rain showers, each residence comes with a fully equipped kitchenette and dining area. However, guests are also welcome to enjoy the Athenaeum hotel’s amenities, including their room service – which is supplied my Michelin-starred chefs Chris and Jeff Galvin. Other services provided by the Athenaeum include use of their twice-daily housekeeping service, and their 24-hour concierge.
Discreet televisions, Bose charging docks and internationally compatible sockets display the residences’ intuitive technology – but despite these modern inclusions, Hulbert says that ultimately, his designs are about the people who will stay in the spaces he has crafted. “I don’t think it’s important that people actually really see [the design], it’s the feeling that they get. If you feel it, it’s more important.”
“If you’re moving from New York or somewhere like that to work for a couple of weeks, you don’t want to stay in a hotel,” Hulbert continues. “You want to come and stay in a place where you can relax in the evenings, not feel like you’re stuck in a box. [At the Athenaeum townhouse residences,] I feel like you could come in, kick your shoes off and relax.”