The Great Eastern Hotel
The refurbished Great Eastern Hotel, located in the
heart of London's financial district, opened its doors in February,
The building, with its magnificent red brick facade and fine
proportions, is a perfect example of Victorian public architecture,
reflecting the romantic confidence of the era.
The new refurbishment by the Manser Practice, with interior and graphic design by Conran and Partners, revives the Victorian splendor of the original, but injects a strong spirit of modernity.
The concept was for a shared "modern classic" vocabulary throughout the hotel, but at the same time to revel in its juxtaposition and complexity. Careful restoration has been a significant part of the project as much of the building is listed.
The creation of the new lobby space involved the demolition of a
listed 19th century room. Permission was granted on the
understanding that the new interior included plaster mouldings as
an integral part of the design. John Atkin was commissioned to
produce the new mouldings which take their inspiration from
locomotive parts, the hotel's railway heritage.
The hotel has 267 bedrooms, four restaurants, four bars, a gym,
and 12 dining and event rooms. There are many classical features,
including marble staircases, fine plaster work and moldings, and
many elegant public rooms.
Before the hotel reopened there was no way of walking from the
east to west wing of the hotel without walking outside. The
new scheme reconfigures the internal layout, creating a central
axis around a six-story rotunda and guest elevator shaft.
Each of the restaurants and bars is a distinctive entity; Terminus reinterprets the classic railway buffet, Fishmarket occupies a sea-green room beneath the gaze of plaster cherubs, Aurora is grand and beautiful, George is a Victorian take on a tudor, and Miyabi, designed by Conran and Partners, has an intimate minimalist atmosphere. Set in one of the most magnificent rooms George epitomizes the late Victorian predilection for historical pastiche.
Because of the restaurant Aurora being heavily listed the
restoration of the dramatic interior, and its striking
stained-glass dome, was done with meticulous care. Experts took
paint scrapings to establish the original color scheme.
Though huge, it is an individual hotel where no two bedrooms are
the same, reflecting the diversity of its heritage and structure.
The rooms on the lower floors have higher ceilings and period
features. All are fitted with with the latest state-of-the-art
The rooms on the fifth and 6th floors of the hotel are
new, extending into the domed copper roof. From one of the
porthole windows there is a view of Norman Foster's Swiss Re
Artist and designer names are popping up all over; from the "You
make My Heart Go Boom" neon sign in the lobby, by Frank B, to
Patrick Coalfield prints, Nan Golden photographs, Eames, Crosier
and Arne Jacobsen chairs, and flowers by Wild at Heart...to name a
The Great Eastern Hotel Company is a joint venture between Conran Holdings and Wyndham International who acquired the hotel in 1997 and began the three year refurbishment and reconstruction program.
The original Great Eastern Hotel was developed in two stages for the Great Eastern Railway Company. The first section of the hotel was designed and built by Charles Barry and his son Charles Edward Barry, one of the great architectural dynasties of the 19th century, between 1879 and 1884.
Colonel Robert Edis then extended the hotel between 1898 and 1901. Although the extension imitates the external style of the original building, Colonel Edis enjoyed a free rein with the new interiors indulging in baroque plaster work, late Elizabethan oak panelling, an an Egyptian Masonic Temple.....now a gym.
Facts about The Great Eastern Hotel
Last updated: December 19, 2013
Out of the Ordinary: The Architecture and Design of Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown and Associates
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA