We checked in with the team behind new London boutique hotel, The Pilgrm, to chat attention to detail and how innovation, rather than technology, is the future of improving your stay
The team behind The Pilgrm Hotel don’t think you need a button to close a blind. Nor do they think innovation in hotels is simply about technology. What interests them is the finer details. Not in a chintzy way, there’s no flock (the correct term is actually ‘game’) of towel swans on the bed or embroidered slippers in every room, instead theirs is a measured and intelligent attention to detail where the driving question, as Steph Thrasyvoulou (Development Director and Co-Founder) puts it, is always “is this worth it?”
The majestic wooden stairs and balustrade for instance, that greet customers upon arrival were worth it, as was the quaint coffee bar below, giving the reception area a cosy European cafe atmosphere. A detail that wasn’t worth it, was the reception desk. Afterall, when the bulk of the check-in process is completed online, all that’s needed is a friendly staff member to welcome you and show you to your room. The most tedious part of staying in a hotel is done in an instant.
Every part of The Pilgrm experience has been meticulously thought out in this way, organically responding to the building at hand, a space combining four Paddington townhouses. From the impressive selection of world-renowned cocktails (with a twist) in the hotel’s bar, to the font used on each room’s welcome letter. It’s all a mixture of great design, functionality and character.
“The idea was this well-travelled experience,” CEO and Co-founder, Jason Catifeoglou, tells me as we sit for coffee in the restaurant. “It’s about creating something made beautifully, in the UK by great people, some of whom are a dying breed of craftsmen who are reviving the art of what they do. But also, it’s about bringing flavours from around the world. The idea of doing a lot less, but presenting a new idea of luxury.”
Walking around the hotel with Jason and Steph, The Pilgrm experience begins to unfold and the attention to detail blossoms. Much of the furniture and flooring is reclaimed, which as Jason points out, has a particular connotation: “I remember having conversations that were basically, reclaimed equals expensive, which meant we couldn’t do it. But we started digging into it and found that people approach reclaimed in a particular way that has a certain price tag.”
The team instead opted for a purer take on reclaimed, creating a toolbox of furniture, materials, flooring, carpets and colours, repurposing seemingly unusable items to a point of rebirth. Jason points out a nearby cabinet that was originally from the Natural History Museum, whilst much of the furniture surrounding us in the restaurant was sourced from various markets and auctions. The mahogany parquet floor below us was bought it in bulk (over 3000 square metres) in sometimes unusable condition from hospitals, schools, army gyms. “It’s about putting the effort into the craft of making it beautiful. Most people want it to arrive like this, but it’s not that easy,” says Jason.
The rooms and design are testament to Jason, Stev and their business partner Andreas’s personal tastes. Rather than sitting down on day one with a collection of identical rooms and a definitive plan, the process was continuous, an organic moodboard that played out over text message. One of the team would alert the others to a scented soap, another day it might be a selection of must-buy furniture at a flea market.
What they were left with is not only a real treat to experience, but also a London hotelier’s wake up call. From the check-in process to dining in the restaurant, the charming bathrooms and pantry areas (a different way of doing a tea and coffee station in each room) to the four smallest rooms (which were fitted with bunks to make use of the room), everything looks and feels fantastic, but it also sets a precedent. Hotels take note, the beauty is in the detail.
Words By Davey Brett