I have a confession to make: I am obsessed with the Ham Yard Hotel in London. Monitoring the development progress of Firmdale Hotel’s newest property (there are nine in total) on Instagram over the past 12 months, I sub-consciously booked our trip to London in time for the grand opening of their new flagship location. My verdict? The Ham Yard may be – no strike that – Ham Yard is the most exciting hotel I have checked into to date.
I’ve been searching for the right word to sum up Firmdale’s new flagship property – dazzling is the word that comes to mind to describe this 91-room/24 apartment property. But don’t mistake the description for the Ham Yard being all fluff and no substance by any means. When you combine the stunning design (at the magical hands of owner and designer Kit Kemp who expertly designed all nine of the Firmdale hotels), stellar service and luxurious accommodations, magic happens. I have yet to see all three elements so perfectly in tune until our stay at the Ham Yard.
Developed from the ground up to the rooftop garden – in what was formerly a collection of underground mod clubs and photography studios – the Ham Yard was a three year undertaking to become the self-described “urban village” it is today. No small feat for a 91-room/23-suite complex with 13 stores smack in the heart of centrally situated Soho.
The hotel had us at hello the minute our family walked up to hotel’s entrance located on a sneaky courtyard off a side street in Soho. The minute we entered through the hotel’s glass doors into the sprawling lobby, we couldn’t help but feel a positive energy about the place. Brimming with people lunching and cocktailing outside as well as inside when we arrived, it was as if the Ham Yard has always been there. But in reality, it was only a week after the opening of the hotel in early June.
We were in awe as we toured the premises of the Ham Yard. It was not unlike what the characters in the play “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” (which we saw at the Drury Lane theater the prior night – highly recommend!) experienced while visiting Willy Wonka’s factory: each space we entered was more surprising than the next. Bold colors, brilliantly overlaid textures, specially commissioned art and one of a kind lighting somehow tie everything together into one hotel design masterpiece.
Kit Kemp must have had a lot of fun with this hotel project. She left no stone unturned, nothing overlooked. We so enjoyed taking pictures everywhere we went, as you can see. These were some of the stand-outs:
- A 1950s bowling alley imported from Texas, painstakingly reassembled
- A disco room complete with three, three metro driftwood crocodiles crawling the walls (aptly named “The Croc”)
- A hypoxic studio (great for altitude training or private celeb workouts)
- A guest-only rooftop oasis with a vegetable garden, apple trees and bar (complete with a piano serving as an ice bucket)
- A 190 seat (Ferrari orange seats!) state-of-the-art theater
- Double height Dive Bar with the biggest and coolest orange juicer we have ever seen
- The cozy Library with a thoughtfully curated selection of books and honesty bar open 24/7 for guests.
There are 91 rooms and suites in addition to 24 apartments in the hotel – No two rooms are exactly the same- each has its own identity. And as in some of the other Firmdale hotels, each one has floor to ceiling windows. We were very fortunate to experience one of the apartments that are typically for short and long term rentals (90 days or more). Ours was a spacious, light-filled and beautifully appointed 2-bedroom, 3-bath apartment with Boffi kitchen, dining table and living room. I could have easily (and happily) moved in here permanently.
Almost everything – from shades to lighting to TV – was ipad-controlled (the stations served as great chargers for our own ipads) and we appreciated the American outlets in the bedrooms. The new range of Rik Rak bath products (created by Kit Kemp) and clever mini bar items were also well appreciated although we had some explaining to do to our children on the more ‘naughty’ items.
From the small bites in the restaurant to the breakfast buffet (we didn’t have time to go for dinner), everything was delicious.
Unfortunately for us, the Soholistic Spa, which opened in August, was not open during our stay. We need to come back for that!
Around the Hotel
Ham Yard enjoys a central location, just steps off Piccadilly and Regents street, in Soho near the theater district, major shopping and China town. An abundance of great restaurants within walking distance abound in neighboring Mayfair and the Chinese district (check out our “A Family Affair in London” post) but if you want to stock up, a Whole Foods is literally across the street.
Part of the appeal of the “Urban Village” concept is the courtyard shops surrounding the hotel. There were only two open when we arrived but at completion there will be 13.
What We Loved:
It was honestly hard to find anything we didn’t love. For a hotel to be open only 10 days, we expected there to be a hiccup here and there but everything was seamless. Many of the staff at Ham Yard come from other Firmdale hotels and their excitement and pride to show off the hotel permeated. Everyone was eager to please.
The great energy – fun, vibrant but still sophisticated – makes Ham Yard Hotel uniquely appealing to almost everyone – singles, couples and families (with a rare exception perhaps to traditionalists).
What We Didn’t Love:
See above. Couldn’t find one thing to pick on. Seriously.
What To Know:
- As the entry of Ham Yard Hotel is in a courtyard off a side street, it can sometimes be hard to hail taxis (many drivers didn’t know about the hotel since it just opened – I am sure that is not the case now!). Just a half block away we easily hailed a taxi on Piccadilly. The tube is close as well.
- Some side streets at night could be a bit ‘edgy’ to walk around with children
- The exquisite roof garden – open to guests only. A welcome and quiet refuge for guests!
- Make sure to tour the below-ground disco room and bowling alley. Guests can now book sessions in the bowling alley with drinks and food. Oh, what I would do to have a private party there!
Rooms to Get:
- Luxury Junior Suites, starting at 490 pounds, are beautifully designed and spacious with separate seating areas. Those facing outside the courtyard (all have floor to ceiling windows) provide the most light. The higher the floor you are, the more likely you will have a better view (and it might be quieter as there is some neighboring pub action at night!). Some of the rooms on the 4th floor have balconies.
- The spacious apartments are meant for those guests on extended stay but may be available upon request – totally worth the splurge if you can get one.
- If traveling with children, check out the family package, which includes breakfast, child amenities and a welcome gift. Keep a look out on their website for other special packages as well.
Ham Yard Hotel is a breath of fresh air– a unique concept that raises the bar for other hotels not just in London but everywhere. It certainly lived up to every expectation of mine and then some. I absolutely recommend you check it out for yourself the next time you are in London.
* Images courtesy of Ham Yard Hotel and Inviato Travel.
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