A feast for the eyes: The Ham Yard Hotel, Soho

14 Jul 2021 | Updated on: 27 Sep 2022 |By Mhairi Mann

Set in Soho’s ‘urban village’, the London flagship from Firmdale Hotels is a visual feast for design lovers, complete with a retro bowling alley, boutique spa and one of the capital’s best rooftop bars

Acclaimed interior designer Kit Kemp and her husband, Tim, have built a unique brand of luxury that couples cutting edge cool with supreme comfort. Their design-led hotels are undeniably opulent but are also warm and unintimidating, famed for their eclectic decor and contemporary art.

The Ham Yard Hotel in Soho is the duo’s London flagship, tucked down a quiet side street by Piccadilly. Astonishingly, the vast, three acre space lay empty following the Second World War, until the Kemps transformed it into an ‘urban village’, with an array of independent boutiques including Anabela Chan fine jewellery and handcrafted resin homeware by Dinosaur Designs.

The lobby at the Ham Yard Hotel, featuring A Million Times clock installation by Stockholm studio Humans Since 1982

Rooms & decor

Kit Kemp’s interiors mix globetrotting references with quintessentially English whimsy. Each of her hotels is a textural, visual feast, playfully packed full of worldly artefacts, bespoke fabrics and contemporary sculptures. Highlights at the Ham Yard include vibrant Sandra Blow screen prints in the lobby, hung alongside A Million Times, a hypnotic installation by Stockholm studio Humans Since 1982, made up of 288 moving analogue clocks.

Sandra Blow screen prints at the Ham Yard Hotel

Spacious bedrooms continue to reflect Kemp’s penchant for layering clashing patterns and textiles, with soaring statement headboards, custom wallpaper and vibrant upholstery in zesty hues. Marble bathrooms are generously filled with beautifully scented Rik Rak toiletries, created by Kemp, while floor-to-ceiling, triple-glazed windows allow you to sleep peacefully through Soho’s clamour.

There are also 17 serviced apartments with minimum three-month lets (you’ll never want to leave).

Food & drink

The low-lit hotel bar and restaurant packs out most evenings thanks to its sultry ambiance, extensive cocktail menu and modern-European dishes that incorporate fresh ingredients grown on the rooftop vegetable patch. And, of course, there’s the decor – think oversized hanging lanterns, yellow willow-weave walls and oodles of art, including illuminated pots by London-based ceramicist Martha Freud. People watch from a punchy red leather bar stool or retreat to a cosy, cushion-scattered enclave for a more intimate liaison.

The restaurant

The restaurant unfolds on to the tree-lined al fresco courtyard, anchored by an imposing Tony Cragg bronze sculpture. Given its proximity to London’s theatreland, it is also surprisingly serene; ergo, the perfect spot to while away a rosé wine-fueled afternoon over seared tuna, sizzling steaks and creamy burrata.

The secluded al fresco courtyard


Amenities at the Ham Yard Hotel are far-reaching, from a Soholistic spa to an extensive library of no less than 5,000 books, where guests are encouraged to linger over coffee table tomes. There is also an on-site retro bowling alley shipped in from Texas, a 190-seat boutique theatre and one of London’s best rooftop bars, complete with sculptures, lanterns, an antique Provençal fountain and two beehives.

The rooftop bar
The retro bowling alley

The verdict

The Ham Yard is one of those rare hotels in London that is as popular with hip locals as it is with overseas visitors, as well as a regular smattering of celebrities. Whether booking in for afternoon tea, lunch on the terrace or a city staycation, lose yourself amid Kit Kemp’s vivid textiles and world-class art.

Make a reservation

Read more: The best five-star hotels in London

From £462 per night, 1 Ham Yard, London W1D 7DT, firmdalehotels.com