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Not long ago, Kensington was a time capsule of stuccoed Victorian terraces, ivied pubs, and white-tablecloth restaurants that prompted the classic “back in my day” anecdotes. This dreary backwards-looking attitude is no more. From the Royal College of Art to the new Design Museum, a new generation of creative residents has given the neighbourhood a shot in the arm.
Hotel Indigo launched its Kensington property with a ground-floor space that would serve the newly revived community along with hotel’s guests. As a nod to the neighbourhood’s upscale heritage, the design features luxurious materials like hardwood, Carrera marble, and buttery leather. But there are also dashes of colour as a warm welcome to the more youthful clientele. “It’s quite a bold scheme, but it feels premium and timeless,” says Henry Reeve, Director of Design & Innovation at IHG.
From Mayfair to Kensington: Theo’s Simple Italian roots
For its house restaurant, Hotel Indigo London Kensington brought in the beloved Chef Theo Randall to craft a rustic Italian menu after his award-winning successes on Park Lane. Theo’s Simple Italian has its own entrance on a quiet street off Earl’s Court Road, and more than holds its own against a compelling culinary landscape.
“You’d never see white tablecloths here,” says Reeve. “Those old days of formality are not for us.”
That goes for the design as well. Every Hotel Indigo interior is distinctly inspired by its surrounding neighbourhood. Reeve says he was moved to make Theo’s as not only a great hotel restaurant, but also a great London restaurant. “When hotel guests walk in and see locals eating here, they know this is the place to be. They don’t need to go out and find a ‘local’ place because they already have it.”
Minimalist design that reflects the surroundings
Theo’s features lightly veined marble tabletops with blonde wood legs and chairs “to keep things fresh and bright and reflect the adjacent gardens,” according to Reeve. He is referring to Barkston Gardens, just outside the entrance, which is thick with greenery half the year. The designed leather banquettes in greens and browns effectively recall the pastoral atmosphere.
On the walls, the decor favours simple design: natural hardwood panelling in a chevron pattern and sleek iron sconces. “That was a deliberate plan to keep it feeling confident and minimalist,” says Reeve.
The open plan space centres on a chunky marble-topped bar faced in juniper-green subway tile. In the mornings, breakfast and coffee dominate the display, but as night takes over, an overhead wine cabinet lights up from within, encompassed by a vintage brass foot rail polished to gleaming.
The epitome of fine yet casual Italian dining
Perhaps the best aspect of the design is that has become more than a restaurant. Tucked around a corner is a snug with steel and crystal glass doors that seal shut for meetings. Reeves explains, “We wanted to make sure guests had a place to work and not feel like they were working in a restaurant.”
True to this philosophy, staffers are dressed in casual monochrome shirtsleeves. “You’d never see white tablecloths here,” says Reeve. “Those old days of formality are not for us.”