The Great Exhibition of 1851 in London, held at the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, was a celebration of industrial innovation. Depending on whose version of history you choose to believe, it was Queen Victoria’s response to a similar exhibition in Paris and was designed to make a clear statement of her Empire’s worldwide leadership. Machines from Great Britain were on display as well as those from around the world. Everything from automated voting machines to telegraph technology were exhibited and the Queen visited three times. In all, the fair drew some six million attendees and to meet the lodging shortage personal homes and rooming houses were converted to hotels. This was the start of Flemings life as a hotel on Half Moon Street just up from Green Park.
Gradual expansion over the years created what is today a luxury hotel made up of 13 connected townhouses. Under General Manager Oliver Brown the property is completing a revamp of 10 apartment-sized suites that will position the inventory in the five star category in terms of space and finishes, but closer to four-star in pricing.
One-bedroom suites start at GPB 590 while two-bedroom suites begin at GPB 795 and a three-bedroom suite is GPB 1200. A two-bedroom penthouse with half-covered outdoor terrace and fireplace will be GBP 1500.
Brown who grew up in the business and cut his teeth between boutique properties and the likes of the London Hilton on Park Lane and Jumeirah Carlton Tower has overseen the over $2 million being spent to create a Premier League suite product. While preserving attributes such as fireplaces and period finishes, windows have been enlarged, many floor to ceiling, brightening rooms up. Kitchens and bathrooms have been modernized and bedrooms and living areas are now decorated with a residential feel. In some cases, doorways have even been heightened to give a more spacious feel. The penthouse has a pitched ceiling, discovered and uncovered as part of the renovation. The suites all of access to back entrances should guests wish to come and go without passing through the lobby.
The discreet layout has made Flemings popular for extended stays as well, and residents have included star footballers needing a place to call home during the season as well as top executives being relocated.
Brown says service has always been a pillar for the hotel, and in terms of amenities there is a small gym, and he plans to boost the food and beverage profile in the future. That said, Brown notes that the area has plentiful dining and drinking hot spots within a stone’s throw.
Right now the mix of guests is about equally Americans, Europeans and domestic with a smattering from around the rest of the globe. The General Manager says his plan is to get the word out. “Once you stay with us, you come back,” he says.