London is home to over 160 embassies and high commissions. One of them, the US embassy, will soon be moving out – although only out of their current building. The soon to be ex-embassy at Grosvenor Square is to become a 5-star hotel as part of a £1 billion redevelopment.
The Grade-II modernist building in Mayfair will no longer be home to the American ambassador and his fellow diplomats. Instead, a luxury hotel with 137 bedrooms will occupy the block. The redevelopment is also going to include six high-end shops and five restaurants.
The new luxury hotel will feature a spa, as well as a ballroom large enough to host one thousand guests. Plans for the development won’t be submitted to Westminster council until next month.
Renowned architect Sir David Chipperfield is in charge of the design, although the developers are a Qatari firm, Qatari Diar. Grosvenor Hill will host an exhibition on the development from April 11th to 24th 2016. Anyone who feels like checking it out can go ad have a look at what’s coming in the future.
Some of the changes to the building will include removing security features installed after 9/11, such as the bollards and barriers at the front. The 1950s building is currently still home to over 1,000 members of the US ambassador’s staff, who will move to Nine Elms in Wandsworth. Although the US embassy has only been in residence since 1960, the square has a long association with the USA. More than 200 years ago, the second US president and first American envoy to Britain John Adams was sent to the Court of St James.
The plans are aiming to be sympathetic to the listed building and its neighbourhood. The US embassy staff move out in early 2017, so we can assume that work might start not long after. The question is, is there room for another 5-star hotel in Mayfair?
Photo credits: Qatari Diar.