Some would suggest that we’re living in an era where romance has been utterly removed from hotels. Where a few conglomerates compete for our loyalties with experiences that are consistent to the point of feeling sterile, and where lobbies feel eerily familiar whether you find yourself in Muscat or Monaco. That’s why the Stratford feels so wonderfully unique. Stratford, of course, isn’t the first London destination that comes to mind for a weekend escape. But that’s changing. This plot of land was taken by Harry Handelsman, a man known for taking big bets that both pay-off, and rejuvenate a suburb. Handelsman is the man behind the revival of the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, and the Chiltern Firehouse in Marylebone – now a hangout for celebrities and those who dominate arts circles. Bringing his unique brand of cool and desirability to Stratford – usually thought of for Olympic Park – will be a tall order, but a visit to this hotel confirms that it’s far from impossible.
Designed by SOM, the minds behind the Burj Khalifa and One World Trade Centre, the Stratford can be thought of as an architectural escape. Space Copenhagen took care of the interiors here, and they’re precisely as minimalist and luxurious as you’d expect: this is a place to unwind – or retreat from London’s chaos – surrounded by clean lines and textural elements like natural words and marble. You’ll find (and should dabble in) excellent REN toiletries.
On the seventh floor, you’ll meet Allegra, a farm-to-table restaurant that feels as considered as the architecture that holds it – expect elevated provincial dishes from venison to duck, oysters to smoked eel.
The building has a dual function that harks back to New York’s long-stay hotels – in fact, peering out over the terrace that sits by Allegra might trigger a mini-NYC moment for those who have visited the High Line. The first seven floors the Stratford’s skyscraper hold the hotel, while many of the remaining levels hold loft-style apartments for residents. It claims to be the first integrated living building in Europe. And the idea here feels sound: the Stratford is so peaceful, so seductive, that you may not wish to ever check-out.