You could go around the world in 30 days, but if you’re after an abridged version with only the pretty bits, a stay at the Ham Yard hotel in London will do just fine…


Ask a London real estate developer to find you ¾ acres of free space in Soho, circa 2014; and you’d be told you’d have better chances of finding a unicorn drowning his sorrows at the local pub.

And yet, behind the neon lights of Piccadilly circus and in the thick of Soho’s pubs, cafés, boutiques, and adult stores, is where hotelier Tim and Kit Kemp, found their mythical beast. An undeveloped bombsite right at the heart of the city and the home of their ninth hotel development, the Ham Yard.

So much unused space in the middle of London’s entertainment district is miraculous. But the true magic, is what they’ve done with it… 

Ham Yard Hotel 1950' bowling alley - Shoe display

Classic to a fault

Though the Ham Yard is smack dab at the heart of Soho, and built atop the ruins of a pub that gave The Who and The Stones their first break, it has nothing in common with the neighborhood’s gritty history.

In fact, it’s the perfect poster boy for the gentrified Soho 2.0.

The neighborhood is dropping its “risqué” as a number of luxury developments settle in, one of which, is the Ham Yard. With its up market boutiques, tree-lined courtyard and celebrity magnet restaurant, the only thing edgy about this hotel is its design, and it’s why you’ll want to book it every time you’re in town.

 Ham Yard Hotel - Junior Suite

Deluxe Junior Suite

Ham Yard Hotel-  Terrace Suite

Terrace Suite

Draw me a hotel…

The Ham Yard is a Firmdale hotel and just like its brothers and sisters in London and New York, its life started on a blank page on Kit Kemp’s drawing board before it was brought kicking and screaming into the hypest neighborhoods in the world.

If you’ve ever tried a Firmdale before, you know what to expect. Drop-dead-gorgeous fabrics and furniture which in other circumstances would complement each other as well as marmite and jam on a tuna salad would, but under Kemp, they harmonize to tell the story that she wants, and the Ham Yard could be her most beautiful tale yet.

Ham Yard Guest Area

Ham Yard Hotel – Guest Area

Ham Yard Hotel - Lobby

Ham Yard Hotel – Lobby

“It shows my love of folk art” she says of the various pieces of furniture and art from around the world displayed in the hotel “there always has to be some kind of inspiration. It’s not just folk art from one country but from all over the world and I think very often, you feel you cant mix Swedish, with Indian, with English, with pottery with wood, with metals, but actually, if you’re very brave, you can.”

She’s been brave indeed. Taken individually, the Ham Yard’s unique elements would have a lesser designer stumped. A couch with colorful Ghanaian fabric upholstery, a faded 19th century Swedish wedding cabinet, and a Brazilian sculpture of cartoonish bikini clad women, sit side by side in the hotel’s Drawing Room around a French stone fireplace. It’s designs equivalent of a leap of faith, and she’s executed it perfectly, landing with a pirouette and bow.

Ham Yard Hotel - Library

Ham Yard – Library

That same flair and quirkiness extends to the Ham Yard’s 91 rooms and suites. And the masterstroke here; is how the vibrancy never takes away from the sense of comfort we’ve come to love and expect with British hotels.

Large mattresses let you sink right into them, and the plush couches you’ll find in the larger suites are selected to feel soft and welcoming… even if you were to sit on them in the nude (Kemp’s words, not ours). Granite and marble bathrooms with large overheard showers welcome you after a day out in the city, and the rooms overlook the courtyard or those cool media and design offices Soho has the secret of. Not exactly the most breathtaking, but in space starved Soho, it’s a miracle you’re not just staring at a red brick wall. 

Ham Yard Hotel - 2 Bedroom Suite

Ham Yard Hotel – Two Bedroom Suite

Ham Yard Hotel - Junior Suite

Ham Yard Hotel – Junior Suite

Lots to see and lots to do…

But there’s more to the Ham Yard than its designs.

This is the Firmdale’s most ambitious project to date, and what sets it apart, is the sheer amount of things to do… and that includes a bowling alley.

Flown in straight from Texas, the Croc is an authentic 1950’s style bowling alley designed by Brunswick and of course, it comes with a Kit Kemp twist. Specially commissioned maple lanes set it apart from other bowling venues in London, as do the 70 vintage bowling shoes and two large scale Howard Hodgkin artworks adorning the walls.

Ham Yard Hotel Bowling Alley

Ham Yard – Bowling Alley

As if the bowling alley wasn’t doing enough to set it apart, the Ham Yard adds to its aura of wonder and amusement with some of the best corporate spaces we’ve seen in London. The hotel offers a 190 seat, state of the art theater for private viewings, four individually designed function rooms, and the Dive Bar, with its neon lights and ceiling to bar spiral filled with over 300 orange fruits, makes for an impressive conversation starter on those tricky interdepartmental outings.

On the fourth floor of the hotel, the Rooftop Terrace hides a secret garden amid the chimney pots and red bricks of the London rooftops. Decorated with flowers, vegetables and herbs brought in from the Cheslea Flower Show, the terrace, is a guest only venue that doubles up as a vegetable garden supplying the hotel’s restaurant. For those lucky enough to visit during the warmer months (or brave enough if they aren’t) this little green patch comes with our highest recommendations if you’re looking for a quiet place to unwind after a day out and about. From up here, you’d hardly believe you’re in Soho.


Ham Yard Hotel Rooftop Terrace

Ham Yard Hotel- Rooftop Terrace

 The Ham Yard Village

Not content of adding another hotel to their portfolio, the Firmdale created a small urban village of niche, international luxury boutiques to enshrine their latest opening and create a sense of community around it.

Ham Yard Hote - Ham Yard Village

Ham Yard Village

Dubbed the Ham Yard Village, many of the brands you’ll find here such as Australian label Jac + Jack, Dinosaur Designs and Anabela Chan, were previously unrepresented in London, and opened their flagships along with the Ham Yard. More than just another shopping area (after all, Oxford street and Knightsbridge aren’t that far away) the Ham Yard Village is the place you go to when you’re after that one of a kind item you won’t find elsewhere and knowing that it’s right downstairs only adds to the charm.

Ham Yard Hotel - Ham Yard Village

Ham Yard Village – My Cup of Tea/ Anabaela Chan

The Ham Yard is a fun-filled hotel that stands out from other luxury options in London. With it’s central location and wealth of entertainment options, it’s the perfect choice whether you’re in town for work or play. If you would like to book the hotel on your next trip, click on the link below, and we’ll be happy to organize that for you.


About Nimah Koussa

The best part about being a travel writer is bringing cities and destinations to life: their stories, secret addresses, luxurious gems and unique holiday moments. And I have been one for a little more than 10 years. From the best bars and restaurants in different cities of the world to hotels where you can check-in to get away from it all, this Magazine is all about making every trip just a bit more meaningful.

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