Industry Update
Press Release28 December 2016

In London, Hotel Design Goes Underground

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Visitors to London might soon have a chance to stay and sleep somewhere very unusual: underneath the grounds of the streets themselves.

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Ian Chalk Architects, a world-renowned London-based firm, is currently designing the upcoming subterranean LDN Hotel, the first of its kind in England. This hotel is expected to be sustainable, and it will reportedly boast a wide swath of healthy plants, as well as air that's cleaner than the air one breathes outside. This underground hotel is expected to be built in London's West End, beneath the surface-level hotel, St. Giles Hotel, in a former car park off of Great Russell Street.

The subterranean hotel will have room for 166 guests, and officials affiliated with the project say they expect prices to be affordable. Guests will stay in hotel rooms that will be spread throughout what is now an underground parking lot on the fourth and fifth floors beneath the street. For those who are familiar with Japanese pod hotels, the rooms will be a bit familiar, but they will have a toilet and a shower in each room, according to Design Curial.

Critics, however, have raised concerns about the quality of the air in such a hotel. The hotel design seeks to remedy any such concerns with a mechanical ventilation system aimed at air purification, said to have the capability of producing air that is cleaner than what we breathe on the streets. In addition to air quality, another concern was the sustainability of the hotel, and, while it is thus far unclear what touches the hotel will incorporate to enhance its sustainability, the hotel is repurposing space in a pre-existing parking garage. Designers say it will also have wood paneling, bright rooms, and a wide swath of healthy, flourishing plants to ensure the clean quality of the air.

Obviously, none of the rooms will feature windows. However, the hotel's location will place guests there conveniently close to a number of popular tourist attractions, according to the site's planning inspector, David Prentis. The hotel will also be able to offer unique budget considerations to make itself appealing to potential guests. Initially, officials rejected the early proposals for the subterranean hotel, but upon subsequent review planning officials have given the project the green light to move forward.

Those who oppose the project have been quoted as saying that an underground hotel is not the sort of thing the West End should be known for, saying that the facility will set a sad precedent for future expansion of London's tourist economy. A lengthy planning battle recently resulted in developers Criterion Capital prevailing.

London tourist expansion plans have recently cited the need for 40,000 additional hotel rooms by the year 2031 for the city to remain a world-competitive tourism destination. Supporters of the subterranean hotel have painted it as a creative and innovative way to help meet this goal, while at the same time providing more affordable lodging, pointing out that anyone who feels disrespected by the lack of windows or above ground housing is free to stay at another hotel.

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