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The annual National Hunt Festival draws thousands to Cheltenham’s famous racecourse, and this year some of them will be staying at The Montpellier Chapter Hotel, which opened near the Ladies’ College in November last year. This chic, 61-room establishment with bar and restaurant is owned by Chapter Hotels, a new division Swire Hotels group.
More than 100 new hotels opened in Beijing in anticipation of the 2008 Olympics, ranging from two-and-three-star chains to international five-star brands… Housed in an emrald-green glass building, [The Opposite House] was conceived by the Japanese architect Kengo Kuma. The floors surround a large central atrium where metres of metallic mesh sweep down from the ceiling to the lobby area.
I don’t often get all anticipatory about the opening of a new hotel, but I did about this one. That’s because I recently stayed in another new place – Upper House, Hong Kong – operated by the same owners and was bowled over. Upper House has a sister hotel in Beijing, Opposite House. Both belong to Swire, owners of Cathay Pacific among much else, whose foray into hotels has now extended to Britain, kicking off here in Cheltenham.
The newly opened Montpellier Chapter caused somewhat of a stir in Gloucestershire’s social circles – providing a hip new haunt to fill the gap its former guise The Kandinsky left gaping when it closed three years ago. But, on a Tuesday evening visit the SoGlos.com team was keen to see if the cooking could match up to the restaurant’s growing reputation as the new place to be seen sipping cocktails.
A NEW British hotel brand, Chapter Hotels, has opened its first property, the 61-room Montpellier Chapter in Cheltenham. The opening of a smallish hotel in a smallish town in the English countryside wouldn’t usually warrant comment this far away. But the venture is of interest because Chapter Hotels is part of Swire Hotels, the group responsible for the much-lauded Opposite House in Beijing and The Upper House, Hong Kong.
If you, like me, remember with fondness the old Kandinsky hotel in Cheltenham, and have joined in the tittle-tattle and speculation about what’s been going on behind the hoardings for the last couple of years, I think you’re in for a pleasant surprise. At the pictures show here, the old girl’s been subject to one heel of a facelift, and I think she’s come out looking better than she probably ever has in the 150ish-year history.
Arriving at The Upper House it is hard not to feel sorry for taxi drivers. Despite being located at Pacific Place, one of Hong Kong’s most prominent addresses, the hotel itself is so carefully tucked away that you could easily miss it. A subtle stylized ‘UH’ logo is all that announces the place to passers-by.
Designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, this 99-room steel-and-glass boutique hotel opened in Beijing’s trendy Sanlitun district in 2008. It’s Rubik’s Cube-like-green-and-yellow glass exterior gives way to a striking, six-floor atrium hung with curtains of steel mesh simplicity and clean lines are evident throughout.
What makes a good hotel? The combination of an excellent location, great people, a superb product appropriately priced and well-executed with consistency. What is your favourite hotel? I’m impressed by well-run family owned hotels—the personal touch makes a big difference.
This unique hotel is designed for the solo traveler on business. Spacious, with giant windows overlooking the harbour, you’ll get over your jet lag in no time. Owned by the same folks who came up with the posh Upper House at Pacific Place and the Opposite House in Beijing, the staff keeps it uber-convenient with a location close to the MTR, paperless check-in and a 24-hour Sugar, is located on the 32nd floor and offers breathtaking views.
The opening of Cheltenham’s newest hotel was celebrated in style on Friday night with the launch party of The Montpellier Chapter. Some 300 guests descended on the Bayshill Road hotel which has undergone a multi-million pound transformation from its previous life as The Kandinsky. The Montpellier Chapter has 61 rooms including a ‘wow factor’ Penthouse, a sunken atrium at the heart of the property plus a new underground car park.
The lowdown The Montpellier Chapter Hotel, named after its chic neighbourhood in the centre of Cheltenham, opened last month bang next door to famous girls’ public school, Cheltenham Ladies’ College. Cheltenham is conveniently less than 100 miles from London and only 2 hours’ train ride away, and is an ideal base for touring the Cotswolds, Stratford upon Avon and Bath.
A new hotel from a new hotel chain gets the green light from our hotel reviewer, but what’s a giant nut doing in reception? A new British hotel chain, Chapter Hotels, launched this week, in the quiet, stuccoed gentility of Cheltenham. Owned by Swire, a multi-national concern whose portfolio includes Cathay pacific airlines, the group aims to deliver affordable, contemporary style.
The UK hotel brand, Chapter Hotels just opened their very first hotel on Monday in the small English town of Cheltenham. The hotel is located on the old site of the Grade II listed hotel Kandinsky. The renovation too just over two years to complete and the spot is now known as The Montepellier Chapter Hotel.
In the heart of the commercial and retail district. The Upper House was envisaged by local designer Andre Fu as an inner-city bolt-hole. The Bedonia stone portico is by British designer Thomas Heatherwick, the public spaces are a grand mix of limestone and bleached oak, and in each of the bedrooms, Fu has dreamed up an eyrir of bamboo, shoji glass and lacquered paper panels.
The Montpellier Chapter Hotel opens it doors this week in a chic part of Cheltenham and just a short drive away from The Cotswolds. Created by Swire, the team behind The Opposite House in Beijing and The Upper House in Hong Kong, the new property belongs to the Chapter Hotels brand and is a contemporary taken on the boutique hotel.
You do not check in the usual way at this new multimillion-pound hotel, you are ‘approached’. As I walked up the steps of the fine Regency façade and entered through old glass door marked ‘SH’ (many moons ago this was the Savoy Hotel), a floppy-haired man holding a laptop and wearing Converse trainers stepped forward.
Swire Hotels is the name in chic boutique hotels in China, from the cutting edge cool of The Opposite House in Beijing to the modern luxury of The Upper House in Hong Kong. In fact, acclaimed architect Andre Fu designed the bathrooms in the latter to be the largest in Hong Kong, with amazing harbour and island views.
No.50 – The Upper House, Hong Kong. Think of what hotels might be like in 2020; cloud-piercing skyscrapers: robotically efficient staff; everything controlled from a screen in your room. This is The Upper House. In a mirrored, tubular building in the Admiralty district on HK Island, it’s a bubble of serenity, with minimalist styling in the rooms and skyline restaurant, Café Gray Deluxe.
Location – a 117-room hotel overlooking mountains and harbour, hidden atop the JW Marriott. First Impressions – The arrival, like the property, is understated yet stunning, from a Bedonia sandstone – clad entrance to the blond-wood-paneled elevators that whish you up to your floor. In-room check-in takes place via iPad, followed by a pot of green tea.
Personal space is a desirable state of being by everyone. As humanity thrives, so cities get populated, the cosmopolitan bug bites the world one place at a time and gradually the need for space intensifies. Whilst a hectic, noisy ambience surrounds us all, the image of a serene and peaceful countryside moves further away.
They say that you should never judge a hotel by its website: a close-up image of stainless steel taps and a vase of orchids always screams ‘ yes, our rooms may be as small as Portoloos and our façade damp-ridden, but at least we have designer shower heads!’ However, The Upper House is an exception to that rule, wowing both in the real and the virtual worlds.
As award-winning chef Gray Kun’s Café Gray Deluxe celebrates its first year of wowing the city’s palates at The Upper House Hotel, the ‘Chef’s Chef’ talks to jetsetter about his start, fussy Hong Kong diners, and the role of today’s celebrity chefs.
The Upper House, Hong Kong Sister to Beijing’s Opposite House, the Upper House occupies a lofty perch in one of the Pacific Place towers on Hong Kong Island. The 117 rooms, crafted by local designer Andre Fu, all feature large rain showers, soaking tubs, haw-dropping views of the harbour and island, and niceties like a complimentary minibar and silk pouches stocked with Ren amenities.
East, a business hotel located in a residential/ commercial neighbourhood in Hong Kong’s Island East, takes a different look at hotel design by planning from the inside-out.
The interior designer was appointed early in the design process, more than four years ago, to carry out the space planning of the rooms and public areas, consisting of the entrance, lobby reception, all day dining, health club, 339 guestrooms, 6 suites and a rooftop bar, as an integral part of the architecture.
Once in a while, we happen to find the perfect business hotel – the home-away-from-home where they got everything just right, from the rooftop bar to the 24-hour-gym, the healthy breakfast to, yes, the affordable price. A new property in Hong Kong’s Island East is a definite contender for the title for “Best Boutique Business Hotel in Asia.”
Some might call it luck; Brian Williams calls it serendipity. In 2005, the veteran hotelier came up with the idea of starting a chain of boutique properties in southerr Britain. A long-time Hong Kong resident, he showed his plan to his contacts at Swire Properties. “They said, ‘Funnily enough, we’re just beginning to talk about whether we should develop our own management team’,” says Williams.
A city, it is said, can never have enough hotels. Especially one that buzzes of human activity, electric energy and challenging possibilities. As tiny as Hong Kong is, in relation to other cities, there’s a bigness to it that many people simply can’t get enough of. In fact, its energy is what many are quite addicted to. The fact that there are many, many hotels on the island doesn’t stop another from being built. And the latest addiction to that is, East, developed by Swire Properties and managed by Swire Hotels.
Size matters in Hong Kong. Or at least when it comes to hotel rooms it does. Tell an in-the-know Hong Kong local that you’re staying at swanky new hotel, The Upper House, in the Admiralty district and after a bit of impressed eyebrow-raising the most likely response will be along the lines of ‘did you know it has the biggest rooms in Hong Kong?’
More and more companies in China are assembling top-notch art collections. As corporate assets go, art most definitely falls into the well-performing category. Businesses have been surprised to discover that during the financial mayhem of the past few years – crashing markets, bumpy currency rides, red-tinged balance sheet- their in-house art collections have actually gone up in value.
The words ‘city break’ used to mean a short flight across Europe to sample the delights of Barcelona or Rome. But with travel-savvy professionals packing more into their holiday allowance and making NYC and Dubai feasible long-weekend destination spots, why not Hong Kong for give nights? Twelve hours away, yes, but for one of the world’s most forward-thinking cities that also boast Thailand-style beaches, it’s well worth it.
More pied-á-terre than hotel, this contemporary-style 117-room property in a Central tower is all about subtle details. Although the look is minimalist, there’s nothing pared-down about the quality of the materials or the size of the rooms- the smallest is 69 square meters. There are limestone-covered bathroom, shoji glass, glistening pale wood surfaces and lacquered paper panels.
When your ears pop in the lift on the way up to your hotel room, you can reasonably assume the view is going to be impressive. The floor-to-ceiling windows of my 43rd-floor suite at The Upper House hotel reveal a sweeping vista of Hong Kong Island, an engineering marvel of skyscrapers built on steep hills and reclaimed buts of the harbour. The Upper House occupies the top-10 floors of a tower above the Pacific Place Shopping Complex.
The Upper House, Hong Kong. Towering above Pacific Place in Hong Kong’s Admiralty area, The Upper House has been converted from the top 13 storey’s of a 50-floor 1980s tower. The building is unexceptional, bar its arresting street-level entrance by Thomas Heatherwick, a stone-curtain wall that looks like, well, curtains. Not so the hotel’s elegant interiors and furniture, designed by young Hong Kong architect Andre Fu.
Since establishing his design practices AFSO in Hong Kong 10 years ago, 35-year-old Fu’s greatest impact has been on the hospitality industry, notably with the opening of The Upper House hotel last autumn. His work is ‘approach driven’, regarding each project as a ‘total environment’, carefully considering everything from the scale of the guest rooms right down to the colour and texture of the floral arrangements.
Open since January, the latest property from Swire Hotels, which also has the high-end Upper House and Opposite House, is a modern, upper mid-scale property firmly targeting business travelers, The entrance is off Taikoo Shing Road through an understated doorway with a water feature on one side – now fenced off, doubtless because jet-lagged travelers tried to walk over it.
From al fresco dining to soulful house, Sugar is said to be enjoying the sweetest of succulent successes. The penchant for alfresco rooftop bars is gradually catching on in Hong Kong, and Sugar at EAST, Swire’s latest hotel, is the latest arrival and is bidding to heat up the competition. Perfect for drinks, tapas and tunes after work, the bar-cum-deck and lounge has upped the street cred of Island East a touch.
This is a tale of two room keys. One is metal, with tasselled fob, and goes in a key-hole. The other is plastic and needs merely to be caressed against a lock for doors to open with a seductive murmur. This is also the tale of one city, Beijing. The keys belong to the city’s most striking new hotels, and between them lie not simply four centuries of technology by a parable of China itself.
Less than six months after launching The Upper House in Hong Kong, the Swire group has opened a second hotel in buzzy Quarry Bay. Firmly targeted at the business market (express check-in, 24-hour gym, Wi-Fi technology), the 32-floor hotel offers dizzying views of Hong Kong harbour. Indeed, local studio CL3 Architects chose restained décor to let the setting dominate.
East – Swire’s lifestyle business hotel – recently opened its doors in Hong Kong with an adaptable, contemporary design to appeal to modern travelers. Its arrival follows the opening of The Opposite House in Beijing in 2008 and The Upper House in Hong Kong late last year; defining the group as innovators in the establishment of stylish boutique hotels.
Hong Kong harbourview bar scene newcomer Sugar is probably the most resourceful – it’s located on the edge of a residential housing estate in Quarry Bay where it is rare to find a high-octane cocktail joint with a killer view to boot. Predictably, the joint is getting good business from the neighbouring Taikoo Place offices. While “harbourview” typically conjures up the night view of Tsim Sha Tsui lit up by neon lights, Sugar offers a view of East Kowloon where there are less fluorescent billboards to spot.
The Upper House in Hong Kong, which opened late last year, is in one of the towers above Pacific Place in Central on the edge of Wanchai. It’s typical Hong Kong mall development, stuffed with Burberry, Dunhill, Armani but even before you get to its minibar policy, The Upper House has much that makes it stand out from the crowd.
All of a sudden, the outdoors are in vogue. In the past six months lounging al fresco has become King. An amazing outdoor space has been a mandatory requirement, it seems, for any newly opened or renovated hotel. And while the Mira’s Vibes and The Excelsior’s ToTT’s have led the way, a new gleaming example has opened in Hong Kong Island’s East that is arguably the sexiest outdoor space around… Sugar is perfectly balanced in modernity, style and that equilibrium between classy and casual.
Location – perched on top of a 49-storey tower in Pacific Place, within easy walking distance of both the green spaces of Mid-levels and Central’s financial skyscrapers. Below a huge mall connects to Admiralty MTR station, while a regular shuttle bus serves the Airport Express. Style – Swire Hotels’ second property has a warmer and more traditional feel that the light, white chic of The Opposite House in Beijing.
What’s it like? Open since October, this five-star boutique hotel was the second Swire Hotels property to open, following The Opposite House in Beijing. First impressions are of a Zen-like retreat, a world away from the high-end commercialism of Pacific Place. A Bedonia stone doorway by English designer Thomas Heatherwick gives the impression of a curtain being opened to welcome visitor to a private residence.
There are three major players in the design of any building: the client, the architect and the sun – old Sol himself. Every architect knows the crucial role of light, but Japanese architect Kengo Kuma goes one step further. For him, light is another material, as important as the cement in a building’s foundation and the glass in its windows.
Swire Hotels may seem to have boldly appeared out of nowhere, with its Opposite House and Upper House hotels in China, but its team is vastly experienced under the steer of managing director Brian Williams. April Hutchinson meets the man who has more plans in the pipeline.
We chat with Brian Williams, the man responsible for building the boutique brands of Swire Hotels in the region. Jumping out of a taxi whose driver was sighing and moaning, cursing in Cantonese at the traffic and simultaneously reading the racing pages of the newspapers while driving—despite my protests—I found myself a bit wound up by his stress levels. Then I walked into the Upper House at Pacific Place.
The opening of the East Hotel in January represented a new direction for the Swire group, previously known for top-end developments such as The Opposite House in Beijing. “Being located in Tai Koo business district means that we’re catering for the regular business travller,” says Swire MD Brian William, “and the hotel has been built around their specific needs, with innovations such as a paperless front desk and iTouches that allow instant access to anything from room service to a daily Hong Kong guide.
Andre Fu’s designs for Swire Properties’ The Upper House exude an air of calm sophistication, offering spacious boutique accommodation in the heart of bustling Hong Kong. Just over a year following the successful launch of The Opposite House at the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Swire Hotels unveiled its flagship property in its home city. The Upper House sits on top of luxury shopping destination Pacific Place in the heart of Hong Kong.
Step into the glass walls of the trendy Beijing hotel The Opposite House, and you’ll be tempted blend a bit of the Far East design vibe into your own home. With an effortlessly chic aesthetic, combined with pops of glamour and subtle Asian touches, the hotel brims with contemporary design ideas perfect for urban dwellings.
Swire Hotels is banking on a big-is-better approach to beating low occupancy rates when it opens its Upper House hotel at the Pacific Place complex in Admiralty next week. And in case that does not work, a two-nights-for-one introductory offer could help swell occupancy rates, say letting agents.
Three days into the 2008 Summer Olympic Games – during which the city made a splash with architectural stunners such as the Bird’s Nest and Water Cube – Japanese architect Kengo Kuma made his own statement when this glamorous new 99-room boutique hotel opened in the heart of Sanlitun’s entertainment district. Encased in gorgeous green glass and centred upon a soaring six-floor atrium hung with graceful arabesques of steel mesh, [The] Opposite House is certainly modern yet it takes its cultural inspiration from the past.
Upon entering the high-ceilinged lobby, you are greeted by an eager polyglot staff and ushered onto an ottoman for check-in by tablet computer. Celebrity architect Kengo Kuma created the hotels’ emerald glass exterior as well as the shimmering chain mail screen that swoops from the lobby ceiling. The 99 guest rooms are quieter in feel, evoking a Japanese minimalism with ingenious built-ins and natural brushed-oak floors.
It’s China, but not as you know it. The Swire Group’s hotel debut is impressive: a grand glass box in emerald green that defies tradition in Beijing’s up-and-coming Sanlitun area, formerly known as the capital’s diplomatic quarter. Its 99 loft-style lodgings are particularly roomy and comprise such treats as decadently deep, oak bathtubs, heated floor-boards and a bold, crisp design.
In preparation of the grand opening of two new properties in Hong Kong, Swire Hotels is inviting a handful of young graduates to take part in its specially designed two-year management trainee (MT) programme. A wholly owned subsidiary of Swire Properties, Swire hotels opened its first boutique hotel in Beijing last summer, followed by a 117-room luxury hotel in Pacific Place and a 345-room business hotel to be opened in Island East next January.
Behind a green glass exterior, hot new Beijing hotel The Opposite House is a perfect playground for design lovers. The Olympics may be over, but Beijing is still one of the best places in the world to see old and new worlds colliding. The new part is well represented by The Opposite House, the city’s latest design hotel, which has been created by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma and Shanghai=based interior designers Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu.
Beijing’s residents may still be nursing a well-earned hangover from their blow-out Olympics party, but their enthusiasm for the city’s glossy new buildings shows no sign of waning. The 99-room [The] Opposite house, in the heart of Beijing’s entertainment and diplomatic district, is the newest addition to the Chinese capital’s bevy of boutique hotels.
Nowhere is the strength of the economy felt more immediately than in the hotel and restaurant industry. Insiders are predicting thousands of closures as the financial crisis deepens, with people working in this sector having good reason to be nervous about their jobs. However, there will still be opportunities around, particularly for those with the kind of winning personality that is prized in this industry.
Pat Nourse has seen the future of luxury hotels, and it’s in Beijing. Opposite by name, contrary by nature, The Opposite House swims against the stream to deliver a fresh take on upmarket lodgings. What’s your hotel check-in drill? Off with the shoes on with the tube and open with the Tanqueray? On with the ‘Do Not Disturb’, off with the lights? Up with the WiFi and out with the inbox?
Once notorious for its seedy bars, the Sanlitun district is undergoing a major facelift; and at its center is a sparkling green, angular glass cube – The Opposite House. Designed by renowned Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, the hotel welcomes you with imposing wooden doors and towering six-story lobby, minus a reception desk. Instead, the staff find you – it’s that kind of place.
Swire, owner of Cathay Pacific, is launching a hotel chain called Swire Hotels. The boutique-style hotels, developed by Swire Properties, are set to open in Hong Kong, mainland China and the UK. “The Opposite House” (pictured) in Beijing’s Sanlitun district is Swire Hotels’ first project. The 99-room-new build will open in the summer of 2008. The Opposite House will by followed by a 117-room hotel in Pacific Place, Hong Kong, in the summer of 2009 and a 100-room hotel at Taikoo Hui, Guangzhou in 2010.
Swire Properties has launched Swire Hotels, and the first of four hotels in China, The Opposite House, Beijing, which will open this summer. Swire Properties has a 75% stake in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Miami and 20% stakes in the JW Marriott, Conrad, Island Shangri-la and Novotel Citygate hotels in Hong Kong. Swire is also developing a collection of luxury boutique hotels to be launched in the UK in 2009. Properties have so far been acquired in Bristol, Cheltenham, Exeter and Brighton.
Hong Kong-Based Swire Properties has formed Swire Hotels to develop and manage a series of small luxury hotels in Hong Kong, Mainland China and the UK. The first property, a 99-room hotel called The Opposite House, will open in Beijing this summer, followed by a 117-room hotel in Pacific Place, Hong Kong in 2009.