We ask two of the best in their class to share their thoughts on the evolution of luxury design in restaurants and hotels and describe how they create the perfect dining experience.
I think that this has become more and more important for the hotel industry. No London five-star hotel is really complete without an exceptional restaurant offering and there has been a real transformation across hotels generally who have turned themselves into gastronomic destinations over the last ten years by partnering with leading chefs. Likewise for the hospitality industry it is a very positive thing and offers talented chefs the chance to thrive and make their mark at a brilliant location or destination in London. The promotion of respected chefs and fine dining has also really signalled a departure from the old-school restaurant world that used to inhabit London’s top hotels and has made fine dining more relevant for the modern diner.
“The promotion of respected chefs and fine dining has really signalled a departure from the old-school restaurant world”
Does there need to be a connection with the restaurant and the rest of the hotel?
I think there definitely has to be a connection between the two as you will always work closely with one another. However, it is important to strike the right balance and ensure that the restaurant has its own clear and unique identity. With MARCUS at The Berkeley it is important that it is communicated and viewed as its own destination, but one that works harmoniously with the hotel. The fact that it is a two-Michelin starred restaurant delivering exceptional cooking in a luxurious setting is very much in keeping with Maybourne hotel groups overall restaurant offering, whilst maintaining its own individuality.
How much influence do you have in creating the dining experience – appreciate you have full control of the food, but what about the interior and ambience?
I run the restaurant as my own. Normally hotel restaurants are run by the hotel but not with my restaurants. So as a result we have full control over absolutely everything and I am involved in the entire dining experience across the restaurant group – MARCUS at The Berkeley is however my flagship and the only restaurant that I myself cook at. Both for MARCUS at The Berkeley and my latest venture Tredwell’s in Covent Garden I worked extremely closely with Robert Angell and his studio Robert Angell Design International to ensure that the interiors reflected firstly for MARCUS the ultimate luxurious dining experience for me and then again with Tredwell’s a modern and buzzing setting to reflect its vibrant location in London’s West End.
Likewise I have worked closely with my teams to ensure that the atmosphere in each of the restaurants are reflective of their menus, audience, location and unique identities. For instance the atmosphere at MARCUS is one of relaxed formality to reflect the two Michelin-starred food in a flexible environment for the modern diner to enjoy.
Yes, I have over my career worked with the best hotels in the world. These hotels usually go for the chefs who will draw in a great crowd to put the hotel on the map for a great restaurant as well as a great hotel. There are many examples from Marcus at the Berkeley, Simon Rogan in Claridge’s, Heston’s Dinner at the Mandarin Oriental and Jason Atherton at the Edition and the list goes on. Marcus for example gave us a clear direction of what he wanted; it was formed and inspired from his own style of Cuisine and the emphasis on Englishness that he wanted as a setting. Through our many brainstorming sessions and me presenting my ideas, these evolved into the creation of a unique dining space and everything in it was designed specifically for Marcus. Our exacting eye for detail allowed us to create perfect sized dining tables and the optimum height for sitting at the table and at the same level as a guest sitting opposite you. Designing a restaurant in a hotel or a standalone space have very similar challenges and whether or not the restaurant is in a hotel or not the emphasis is on the how the restaurant will look and function for that particular chef.
Do you feel there should be a connection with the restaurant and the rest of the hotel?
This is a good question, and one which often starts with ‘we want the restaurant to feel like a total standalone restaurant’ or ‘the restaurant is an integral part of the hotel’ and the two are intrinsically linked. It so depends on the hotel and the chef involved. We created KASPAR’S at the Savoy which is a Hotel restaurant that is in the centre of the hotel that wanted to celebrate its location and also its provenance with the Savoy. Our inspiration was of the Savoy and the restaurant reflects this and we have succeeded in bringing to the Savoy a great restaurant that meets the expectations of its guests. MARCUS on the other hand is of Marcus.
How do you approach creating the perfect interior and ambience?
My philosophy is that a unique design requires a unique approach. So each project is totally individual as are the clients, the spaces and their food. It’s all connected and each plays a role into the final backdrop for the chef. We create architecture within our interiors which gives a distinction that can be recognised through the evolution of the chef’s brand, and plays a big part in the look and feel. We take the DNA of the chef, the food and service and use these to create our original look. The elements to start with in creating an amazing restaurant interior are service, style, location and authenticity.
“My philosophy is that a unique design requires a unique approach”
Talk us through your most favourite project and why.
Now that’s a really hard question to answer without any favouritism. They all have their best bits and they each have their different challenges. We focus on one restaurant project at a time so we give our clients the full attention they require. I like to design everything with the interiors we create and develop new finishes and details. We are very practical and with my wealth of knowledge we are able to create and manufacture totally bespoke items such as furniture, lighting, carpets which are unique to our clients. With Marcus for example we designed the furniture and developed full working prototypes prior to the final edit with Ben Whistler, whom I have worked with for many years. Ben understands our attention to detail and this understanding matched with his rich experience enables us to achieve a great result which is British made. It’s important to build up these relationships with manufacturers as it is this time working through the design details – whether it is lighting or furniture – that amazing things happen and we can deliver original and considered solutions to our clients.
Final Question for Marcus: can you talk us through your three main London locations and the impact the interior/surrounding has on the food you choose to serve: MARCUS at The Berkeley, Gilbert Scott at Renaissance St Pancras and your new venture Tredwell’s in Covent Garden.
Each of my restaurants have their own individual identity but at the same time they are all part of the Marcus Wareing Restaurant Group so I want them to deliver exceptional experiences.
MARCUS: MARCUS is my two Michelin starred restaurant at The Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge which re-opened in March 2014. It took three months of refurbishment working closely with Robert Angell and his studio Robert Angell Design International to transform the claret dining room into a sophisticated, new contemporary dining space with clean classical lines and refined colour-palette. The new interiors reflect and compliment the modern, fresh approach that myself and my Head Chef Mark Froydenlund take with the constantly changing, seasonal menu. Likewise the craftsmen and artists used by Rob in the designs are all British which complement our emphasis on modern British cooking using the highest quality produce to create imaginative dishes with exacting execution. The focus is on flavour with a variety of cooking techniques in use to make the most of every ingredient.
The Gilbert Scott: The food at The Gilbert Scott again reflects the grand, ornate British setting of the restaurant in the Renaissance St. Pancras hotel in King’s Cross. Taking inspiration from tradition, the Gilbert Scott offers a creative, original menu serving British classics with British produce at the core and the famed bar offers amazing cocktails, brunch, afternoon tea and quirky bar bites.
This project was designed by David Collins Studio. Design Insider will be talking to Simon Rawlings, Creative Director of The Studio in January about its many international projects.
Tredwells: Tredwell’s offers a buzzing and informal setting in Covent Garden for diners to enjoy London modern cuisine across brunch, lunch and dinner. Therefore the menus that are served there are both original and accessible cooking of the highest quality; an eclectic mix of globally inspired dishes with British produce at its core to give visitors a taste of London’s diverse dining scene. The interiors combine a New York vibe with Parisian elegance with metro tiles, dark oak banquettes and racing green distressed leather seating. Designed by Rob Angell and his studio RADI we wanted to make sure that Tredwell’s had a cool and timeless feel where people could go to enjoy tasty food, drink and have a great night out.