Buttoned-up Brits are in for a shock of the new. A Rat Pack’s worth of bold American brands bring a blitz of Vegas-style glitz and glam to the refined London landscape this year. The Morgans Hotel Group’s Mondrian, Keith McNally’s Balthazaar and a new hotel from André Balazs are just a few big-name domestic brands that have announced London expansions. Here’s the scoop on four other American favorites making British debuts.
Photo Courtesy of Equinox
Equinox, since October 2012
Location: Kensington High Street
British twist: For Equinox’s London location, it has paired with a number of pugilist programs due to the increasing popularity of boxing among Brits. The gym has heated floors in the locker rooms to combat London’s notoriously dreary weather.
Why London? “In order to position ourselves internationally, we wanted to do London first. Plus, there’s a large expat population in Kensington, so the brand recognition there is huge,” says Aaron Richter, Equinox’s VP of design.
TidBrit: Equinox occupies the former Rainbow Room restaurant, a ’70s mainstay of icons like Mick Jagger, Twiggy and David Bowie. The property is listed under English Heritage, so every aspect of the renovation—from light fixtures
to fire alarms—had to be reviewed
Photo Courtesy of STK
STK, since November 2012
Location: ME London Hotel
British twist: The menu features a Head to Toe grill with tobacco onions and Meatpacker sauce. Expect the music to favor U.K. rock bands like T. Rex, the Jam, the Clash and Oasis.
Why London? “Within the U.K., London really is its own economy with a strong talent pool of chefs and mixologists,” says Celeste Fierro, senior vice president of The One Group.
TidBrit: The building where STK is located was home to the first-ever daily radio broadcast in the U.K.
Photo Courtesy of SushiSamba
SushiSamba, since July 2012
Location: Heron Tower
British twist: Patrons travel to the restaurant location on the 38th and 39th floors in a panoramic glass elevator that offers 360-degree views of the city.
Why London? “The city is the gateway to the world. If you want to be a player in this industry, this is where you need to be,” says Shimon Bokovza, founder of Samba Brands Management.
TidBrit: SushiSamba has quickly become a London hot spot—there’s already a two-month waiting list for a table, and the restaurant receives more than 2,000 calls per day.
Photo Courtesy of Belgraves, Thompson Hotels
Belgraves, a Thompson Hotel, since February 2012
British twist: The staff interaction with guests will be a bit more formal than in the U.S. Also, the hotel’s art will primarily feature emerging young British artists.
Why London? “I took a lot of inspiration for our brand from the London hotels and restaurants, so going there was a way to bring everything full circle for Thompson,” says Jason Pomeranc, Thompson Hotel’s cofounder and owner. “We infuse our style of casual luxury into the very particular London sensibility.”
TidBrit: The art within the hotel represents local talent, but one piece behind the front desk—by British artist Ben Turnball—is a collage of superheroes that forms an American flag. It is called Patriots.