In September 2013 the InterContinental Hotel Group announced their new London property, the InterContinental London - The O2. The 453-room and 18-storey hotel and conference centre, located on the northwest tip of the Greenwich Peninsula, is currently nearing completion as part of a 7.6 acre development scheme that includes an adjacent 23-storey tower housing apart-hotel suites and luxury serviced-apartments marketed as The Peninsula Tower (more recently referred to as the Arora Tower). The InterContinental Hotel will provide direct access to The O2 Arena and is expected to welcome its first guests on Saturday 19th December 2015. The neighbouring residential tower and apart-hotel is expected to be completed early in 2016.
The development project is funded by Queensgate Investment Fund and the hotel will operate under a franchise agreement with Meridian Hotel Operations Limited and managed by Arora Hotels, part of the Arora Group founded by hotelier Surinder Arora. The centerpiece of the development will be the InterContinental London - The O2, the brand's second hotel in London after the InterContinental London - Park Lane. Another hotel of the same brand, the InterContinental London Westminster, was taken over by Gala Hotels in 2014 and relaunched as the Conrad London St James.
The new InterContinental Hotel - The O2 features a 4,800 sqm conference and exhibition center, complete with a 7.5 m high, 3,100 sqm pillar-free ballroom – one of the largest event spaces in Europe – and accommodates up to 3,000 delegates. The center also boasts an expansive pre-function area, including a publicly accessible outdoor roof terrace, and 20 additional meeting rooms. The hotel’s facilities include a fitness centre and spa, as well as five restaurants and bars - notably an 18th floor Sky Bar offering panoramic views of the financial district of Canary Wharf and the Thames. The hotel aims to attract both leisure and business guests with its unique location adjacent to The O2.
The InterContinental Hotel is located 400m from North Greenwich Underground Station and within walking distance of the Emirates Airline cable car which carries passengers across the Thames towards Royal Docks, within easy reach of the ExCel exhibition centre. In addition to the current Thames Clipper servicing North Greenwich Pier, the hotel may benefit from a commuter shuttle proposed by developer Knight Dragon to link Greenwich Peninsula with Canary Wharf.
HOTEL ACCOMMODATION ON THE PENINSULA
The InterContinental Hotel Group (IHG) also operates the nearby 162-bedroom Holiday Inn Express, located south on Busby's Way, which has until now benefited from being the closest hotel to The O2. A smaller 47-bedroom budget hotel, the ibis Styles Greenwich Peninsula, is currently under construction on Tunnel Avenue and is due to welcome its first guests in Spring 2016.
Elsewhere on the Peninsula, the historic Pilot Inn offers rooms overlooking the Peninsula's Central Park. A 100-room hotel planned for the Lovell's Wharf development - since renamed The River Gardens - has been scrapped. Similarly, a hotel on the adjacent Enderby Wharf scheme has been axed, as developer Cathedral Group recently received permission (August 2015) to replace the 251-room hotel with additional housing, in order to fund the development of an enlarged International Cruise Liner Terminal.
Ahead of its launch, InterContinental Hotel - The O2 is offering promotional rates from £156 per night for a Superior Room, through to £392 for the Riverview Club InterContinental Suite and £410 for the premium City View Club InterContinental suite. The nearby Holiday Inn Express offers rooms from around £110 per night, while the ibis Styles hotel is expected to offer nightly rates starting at £85.
INTERCONTINENTAL HOTEL - THE O2
The conference centre at the new InterContinental boasts an impressive 7.5 m high, 3,100 sqm luxury pillar-free ballroom – creating a 40 by 75m clear-span space, which is the largest space of its kind in London and one of the largest single event spaces in Europe. The centre has an expansive pre-function area and 20 additional meeting rooms that are designed to cater for meetings, events and weddings. The Arora Ballroom holds up to 3,000 delegates for a reception or as many as 2,500 for a dinner with full staging and dance floor, so as to accommodate large-scale award ceremonies, congresses and parties. The ballroom can be split in a number of configurations or halved to form the 1500 sqm East London and West London rooms. The Arcadia (240 sqm) and Cutty Sark (260 sqm) event spaces on the second floor can cater for 240 and 264 people respectively.
The hotel's 453 rooms are located across levels two to 18 in the main hotel building. Standard 'superior rooms' range in size from 29 to 32 sqm. There are 50 suites, each offering premium features, that come with access to the hotel's executive Club InterContinental. Suites include 42 sqm Deluxe Suites, 60 sqm InterContinental Suites and 110 sqm Terrace Suites. The 183 sqm Penthouse Suite on the 17th floor boasts two bedrooms with bespoke en-suite bathrooms, an office, fine dining area, cocktail bar, kitchen and grand piano.
The hotel offers five restaurants and bars, including the Meridian Lounge, located in the main lobby, which provides an informal space and serves light meals. The Clipper Bar on the first floor provides a 270 degree view of Canary Wharf and the Thames and features an impressive oval marble bar. The Peninsula Restaurant on the second floor is a fine dining restaurant with a modern European menu. The Market Brasserie is the hotel's all-day dining restaurant, which serves locally-sourced foods. Eighteen Sky Bar, on the 18th floor, is designed as an iconic style cocktail bar.
The hotel's fitness centre and spa comprises of some 1,000 sqm of leisure space with eight treatments rooms, a sauna, steam room and relaxation room. The fitness centre is kitted out with the latest equipment and has a 17 m indoor swimming pool with a jacuzzi, cannon neck massage jets and pool-side loungers.
AEG Europe is a significant landowner on the Greenwich Peninsula. Its largest asset, The O2, is cited as the world's busiest music venue, ahead of New York's Madison Square Garden. AEG also have an interest in the new InterContinental Hotel and the proposed Designer Outlet Village at The O2, for which Ansco Ltd received planning permission in April 2015.
AEG Europe also owns a plot (N0201) directly south of The O2, for which Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands were appointed in October 2007 as architects for the development, gaining consent in 2010 for an office development (below, left) which was never realised. Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands were subsequently re-appointed in 2015 to prepare design proposals and a new planning application for a residential development (below, right) was submitted on behalf of AEG in November 2015. The new proposals (under review) comprise of two blocks, 36-stories and 10-stories, containing 395 residential units.
Masterplan and design proposals
A hotel has been earmarked for the site of the InterContinental Hotel since February 2004, when the Royal Borough of Greenwich granted outline planning permission (02/2903/O) for the mixed-use redevelopment of the wider Greenwich Peninsula that approved a 630-room hotel over 60,000 sqm on the plot (N0301), which was proposed as the tallest building on the Peninsula at 104 m. The Masterplan was drawn up by architects Terry Farrell & Partners on behalf of then landowners English Partnerships, Lend Lease Europe, Quintain Estates and AEG.
The land immediately south of the hotel is currently derelict and was designated part of the Meridian Quays (since renamed Peninsula Quays) development, proposed to be a largely residential riverside area on the the northwest of the Peninsula. The Greenwich Peninsula Golf Range, opened in July 2015, is making temporary use of the southern part of this site until it is redeveloped by Knight Dragon.
Developers Ansco Hotel Ltd submitted a planning application in January 2010 (10/0140/F) for the development of a 21-storey 452-bed hotel designed by architects Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, which included plans for a health spa, ballroom and meeting facilities, plus an adjoining 23-storey building with 100 (open market) residential apartments linked to the hotel. Proposals offer owners of apartments the option to place the accommodation back into the hotel rental pool to be let by the hotel operator and to take advantage of hotel services. Amendments put forward in July of the same year proposed to enlarge the terrace above the ballroom to take advantage of uninterrupted views across the river towards Canary Wharf. Following a series of modifications, including the introduction of faceted convex curves to the ballroom and serviced apartments river front facades, the scheme received approval later in October 2010. The scheme was taken over by Queensgate Investments and Arora Hotels in 2011.
In April 2013, new operator Arora Hotels put forward plans (13/0923/MA) to change the internal layout of the hotel - approved in March 2012. At this stage the main hotel building was earmarked to to provide two hotel brands within the same building: the Crowne Plaza and InterContinental Hotels. The brands were to have separate reception and communal areas, with dedicated lifts taking guests to segregated hotel bedroom offerings. Plans introduced 40 additional hotel suites within floors 1-5 of the residential tower, relocated the sky bar from the 13th to 18 floor and added an internal corridor linking the hotel lobby to The O2.
Most recent revisions in August 2015 (15/2126/MA) relate mostly to the adjoining residential tower, namely altering the floor layout and the addition of a 4-bed penthouse apartment. In September 2015 developers proposed to install of 6 high level internally illuminated signs (15/1952/A), but later withdrew proposed signs on rooftop of hotel, satisfying objections from the Greenwich Conservation Group and Greenwich Society. Signage was installed on the main hotel building in December 2015.
Video [Hatton Associates] - earlier design proposals
In March 2015, Knight Dragon Developments Ltd submitted an application for a revised Greenwich Peninsula Masterplan 2015 (15/0716/O). Sites on which development has since been approved or construction is already underway - including the site of the InterContinental Hotel (Plot NO201) - are excluded from the new Masterplan (see image, left).
The 2015 Masterplan received final approval in November 2015 and gives provisions further, additional hotel accommodation on the Peninsula, allowing for a "Class C1 (hotel) up to 35,999 sqm for up to 500 rooms". The additional hotel accommodation is to be housed in a new 'transport hub' that comprises of a cluster of buildings over and around the existing London Underground station.
The new hub is to create an enlarged bus station and will include retail, restaurants and hotel/serviced apartments at ground and upper ground levels. The new station complex is proposed to include two hotels with 500 rooms (c. 36,000 sqm) and up to 220 associated Serviced Apartments (c. 20,300 sqm). Plans outline a series of routes will radiate from the new station, including over a proposed footbridge crossing Millennium Way.
In July 2013 Balfour Beatty, who was awarded the £121 million contract for complex, held a ground-breaking ceremony marking the start of works to regenerate site - almost a decade after a hotel was first earmarked for the site. The InterContinental Hotel is expected to complete in mid-December 2015, with the adjoining residential tower and landscaping opening early in 2016.
The adjacent residential tower - marketed as The Peninsula Tower but more recently referred to as Arora Tower - houses 40 apart-hotel suites over its five lower floors. An enclosed walkway takes residents directly to the adjacent InterContinental Hotel, where they can take advantage of luxury services. Developer Arora Hotels recently (August 2015) submitted revised proposals to increase number of serviced apartments in the tower from 100 to 101 (15/2126/MA), with reconfigured apartments throughout the building, including the addition of a 4-bed penthouse apartment with a double-height winter garden on new 23rd and 24th floor levels (without increasing the building height, which remains 86.7 m). A blog post to follow will look at the Peninsula Tower in more detail.
The Thames Path that wraps around the northwestern riverside of the Greenwich Peninsula is home to a historic jetty (below, left) and a public art work called A Slice Of Reality that was installed on the foreshore as part of millennium celebrations (below, right).
Proposals exist for a new public art installation called Aluna Moon Clock that is being developed for a site adjacent to the InterContinental Hotel - The O2. The locality lies close to where the Meridian Line dissects the Greenwich Peninsula, a feature that recently saw it included as part of the East London sculpture trail known as The Line.
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