Named after a local pioneer, The Laslett Hotel distils the essence of Notting Hill into a beautiful new boutique hotel. Set across five Grade II listed Victorian townhouses, it incorporates a curated British library, walls of art, a bar and a coffee shop, so locals can hang out, there too
WORDS Jacky Parker
There’s no denying that Notting Hill has seen huge changes over recent decades – and whilst evolution is natural and true of other pockets of London, the various transformations of this West London enclave have been dramatic. From its post-war reputation as a ‘down-at-heel’ neighbourhood to its bohemian high point towards the end of the last century, the area has since morphed into its current status as a global ‘destination’, attracting hordes of tourists from across the world, seeking a slice of the action or still just taking photos of that blue door. While many of the independent institutions that gave the area its character have given way to big brands and faceless organisations, one recent arrival that seeks to redress the balance is The Laslett Hotel on Pembridge Gardens, tucked just behind Notting Hill tube station.
Founded by Tracy Lowy of Living Rooms and designed by architect, Tom Bartlett of Waldo Works, The Laslett is a 51-bedroom boutique hotel with a chic ground floor space incorporating a bar and library. As much neighbourhood hang-out as somewhere for visitors to lay their heads, it captures the essence of the area and presents it in a beautifully stylish way. ‘Tracy and I both grew up in the area and have worked together before,’ says Bartlett. ‘We had looked at other hotel projects over the years and not gone ahead for various reasons, but when we saw this we knew we wanted to do it.’
Named after Rhaune Laslett, a much-loved local community activist whose Notting Hill Festival in the 1960s sewed the seeds for the now world-famous Carnival, the duo’s aim was to celebrate Notting Hill’s rich cultural heritage and capture the energy and creativity that characterizes the area. ‘We wanted to bring in the boho spirit and eclectic feel that the area was known for,’ says Bartlett. ‘The relaxed nature of the house parties that we used to go to and the atmosphere that Portobello Market still brings. Tracy thought it was fitting to choose the name of someone linked to the area and its culture.’
Housed within five Victorian terraced townhouses, The Laslett’s exterior is all beautiful white stucco facade and Italianate pillars, while inside it is understated luxe. ‘We didn’t want it to have that overt “luxury” look, people don’t really come to Notting Hill for that,’ says Bartlett. ‘We wanted it to be beautiful and authentic.’
Bartlett and Lowy discussed what they loved most about the area, what they missed and how they wanted it to be represented. ‘There are so many different types of people who visit the area for different reasons,’ says Bartlett. ‘We didn’t want it to be everything to everybody, we wanted to express what we thought about Notting Hill.’
The duo looked at visual references from the late 80s and early 90s: from the street style of the Buffalo fashion movement spawned around Portobello and its images in the Face magazine, to the nightlife and art scene. ‘It was a very exciting time and a very multi-cultural area then,’ says Bartlett. ‘We both felt that was being lost and wanted to talk about it again.’
Having looked back for inspiration both were resolute in wanting The Laslett to be in the present. ‘From the photos and magazine covers we came up with the colour palette of tonal greys with splashes of red,’ says Bartlett, ‘but we wanted it to feel personable and intimate.’ In the rooms they have created a comfortable home away from home feel, with stand-alone furniture from British designers such as Russell Pinch and Tom Dixon, artwork on the walls, and books and objet d’art on the shelves.
The artwork – sourced and curated by Bartlett’s brother-in-law and creative director, Ben Kelway of Atlas Studio, includes the work of local artists and designers, with illustrations by Biba founder, Barbara Hulanicki, and photography of Carnival sound systems by Brian David Stevens, while the antiques and ephemera were provided by local antiques dealer, Jerome Dodd of Les Couilles du Chien, on Golborne Road.
Other local connections include the bar named after Trinidadian musician, Russell ‘Russ’ Henderson MBE, one of the founders of the Notting Hill Carnival. The Henderson Bar and Coffee Shop is open to non-residents and serves food and drink throughout the day, with light bites from Clarke’s Kitchen and other nearby suppliers, as well as hosting regular pop ups, such as Oyster Night.
Admiring visitors will be delighted to learn that a selection of the artworks, and other pieces such as gorgeous scented candles by Couverture & the Garbstore and jewellery by Les Glorieuses are available to buy in the hotel lobby shop, so they can take a little of piece of Notting Hill style home with them, a reminder of the area before times change once more.