Living Rooms founder Tracy Lowy grew up in the hotel business. Her father, Peter Lowy, bought the Vienna Hotel in Maida Vale in the 1970s, starting what is now the Lowy Group, one of London’s most interesting hospitality companies. Lowy Group owns a mix of properties in the U.K., including a collection of five luxurious boutique hotels under the Living Rooms brand, all of which feel like they could be the impeccable home of your savvy English best friend. London correspondent Emily Goldfischer had a chat with Tracy about the brand at the recent opening of Weymouth Mews, an award-winning conversion of a landmarked building, now seven stylish apartments tucked in a picturesque Marylebone mews.
How did you get started in the boutique hotel business?
Well, I grew up in the hotel business and developed a strong passion for hospitality early on. Back in the ’90s, I realized that London was screaming for something other than traditional hotels; something that offered exclusivity, comfort and easy living—all with the amenities of a five-star hotel. Since 1999, we [Living Rooms] have opened a variety of properties in four of London’s thriving neighborhoods and I’m excited to see what’s next for the company.
Who is the Living Rooms customer?
The Living Rooms customer varies from avid travelers keen to explore the city to families who desire a calm oasis with the ease and perks of a five-star hotel. Our core customer base are creative professionals from the worlds of art, entertainment, music and fashion who are looking for an accessible yet highly exclusive home-away-from-home experience. Many of our long-stay guests are time-poor and want the hotel experience of housekeeping, no utility bills, high-speed Wi-Fi, etc. We take care of all the boring bits, so our guests don’t have to think; they can just enjoy life in London.
Tell me about the properties, where are they and what type of client is best for each?
Our largest property—still quite intimate with 51 rooms—is in the heart of Notting Hill, The Laslett, which opened in 2015 and has since won awards as London’s best independent hotel. The hotel’s homey feel is inspired by Notting Hill’s vibrant cultural heritage and creative cool, a mix of modern furniture from British designers alongside more personal quirks (think: well-chosen books for bedtime reading, proper blankets, pieces from local antiques dealers and curated photographs and artworks on the walls.) In the "Little Shop of Curiosities by Jerome Dodd" in the lobby, an ongoing pop-up shop from West London’s favorite eclectic antiques curator, guests can purvey his extraordinary curios, as seen in his cult shop on off Portobello Road. The hotel’s Henderson Bar serves seasonal British fare all day and into the night and hosts fun weekly events—Turntable Tuesdays and Oyster evenings—that encourage our guests to interact.
In Mayfair, discreetly tucked behind Bond Street, No. 5 Maddox Street features 12 extended-stay suites, each with a bedroom, fully fitted kitchen and generous living area, double in size of a typical hotel room for the area, upwards of 280 square feet. The property offers 24-hour concierge service, which can arrange a variety of in-room spa treatments, shopping services, dinner reservations, taxi bookings and theatre tickets.
No. 5 Maddox Street
A favorite of families are the 14 apartments in Europa House, located in London’s leafy Little Venice, with direct access to three acres of private gardens. Here, guests can choose from one- to three-bedroom apartments and the Penthouse, which can sleep six adults or a family of two adults and up to five kids. Super comfortable, the Penthouse has two private terraces, elevator access, and charming working fireplaces. Europa House is just minutes from the delicious cafes, organic delis and chic boutiques on Clifton Road—a London gem for those in the know!
In Marylebone, 56 Welbeck Street opened in 2013 and offers seven apartments, including one duplex, all with super chic interiors—limited edition prints by Tracey Emin, Gary Hume and Jake and Dinos Chapman mix with mid-century furnishings—and the rooms are blessed with high ceilings, abundant natural light and, of course, state-of-the-art technology. Our latest property, Weymouth Mews, also in Marylebone, is a collection of seven apartments, sized from one, two and three bedrooms, some with gorgeous planted terraces, all tucked on a peaceful mews just five minutes walk from Marylebone High Street, one of the city’s most charming with the best independent boutiques, cafes and restaurants.
How has Airbnb impacted the business, as obviously not in existence when you started Living Rooms? Are you part of any reservations system?
Ironically, Airbnb hasn’t affected our business at all. In fact, it’s raised awareness of the modern travelers’ desire to live like a local. For The Laslett, in general, most of our business is word of mouth, positive press and the suggestion of knowledgeable travel advisors. The majority of our business is repeat, some of our guests have been staying with us for 20 years.
What is most unique about the Living Rooms experience?
Well, of course I love all our properties, but beyond the physical product, we build intimate relationships with local, independent businesses in each of our neighborhoods and recommend them to our guests with our "edit." The best places to exercise, eat, drink and be entertained. We want guests to feel fully immersed in their surroundings, not just visiting but experiencing the culture.
For more information or to make bookings, travel advisors can email Living Rooms house manager Nuno Leite at [email protected].