Today, the hotel’s transformation is breathtaking, as the designers have creatively used some of the original features of the Grade II listed building and introduced both contemporary and traditional elements to create a voyage of discovery.
The ground floor, for example, transports you back to the elegant days of the 1920 and 30s. Using existing features and combining them with new ones, the designers have cleverly recreated the ambience of that bygone era.
Formerly the banking hall, this floor now contains The Lounge, the hotel’s bar and dining area, as well as the reception. The enormous windows and original art deco ceiling lights have been complemented by huge, specially commissioned, paintings and a fabulous neon design on the back wall of the bar that evokes thoughts of sophisticated cocktails, long cigarette holders and decadent living.
The furniture within The Lounge also reflects the period when ‘living was easy’. Beautifully designed armchairs, comfortable sofas and low tables encourage visitors to relax, enjoy a drink and take their time over a choice of unusual dishes from the menu.
The 147 bedrooms continue the voyage of discovery, as the designers have not only recreated different eras but a different country too. If guests wish to continue the theme created in The Lounge, they can choose an Art Deco room. The furniture, lighting and soft furnishings provide an elegant ambience.
However, for those who prefer to be at the cutting edge of technology, the Hi Tech rooms will appeal. The designers have combined reflective black floor tiles, art nouveau furniture, black and white bed linen and unusual artwork, to create a futuristic feel.
If, on the other hand, guests prefer a sunny outlook, the designers have created the ‘Italian’ themed rooms. An explosion of yellows, greens, reds and blues provide a warmth and vibrancy akin to a Tuscan landscape.
A distinct Mediterranean feel has also been given to the three huge atriums running through the centre of the building. Natural light floods through the glass roof to enhance the white and peach coloured walls and create a look reminiscent of houses and apartments in Southern Spain.
Returning to the public areas, the hotel has nine air-conditioned meeting rooms, which can seat up to 60 delegates, all of which provide the latest state-of-the-art facilities and have been designed to sit comfortably within the historic building.
The piece de résistance, however, is the magnificent Presidential Suite. Originally the boardroom and directors’ office at the building society, the suite has been meticulously restored to its former glory, including the restoration of the stained glass domes and original wood panelled walls.
The Presidential boardroom is proving to be extremely popular as a venue for exclusive dinner parties, high-powered business meetings and for smaller and more intimate weddings and civil cermonies.