A new luxury hotel is set to open in the affluent London district of Knightsbridge, where a secret underground tunnel to Harrods has lay disused for 20 years.
The as-yet-unnamed Knightsbridge project was recently approved by the Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, and the 120-bedroom property is not intended to provide direct passage to Harrods, although reports have suggested otherwise.
David Ashcroft, the chief executive of the development, said to The Times: “When we bought the site we knew from the legal documents that there was a tunnel but it had been blocked up at both ends.”
The project team found the tunnel to be in good condition with the luxury department store’s signature green furnishings. The underground tunnel was a pedestrian and goods passage, as the site used to be a Harrods warehouse, before becoming a car park.
Harrods were notified, and a spokesperson has confirmed: “There is a historic tunnel on this site, however it has been blocked up for twenty years – it will remain blocked up and will offer no access to Harrods.”
The ultra-luxe west London hotel promises to be a 'six-star' affair (a rating standard which doesn’t currently exist), built on the site of the current Pavilion Car Park, and is expected to cost £300m. The project coordinators have declined to comment on whether the hotel will be a Harrods branded initiative.
The freehold was acquired by City Developments Limited (the Singaporean company’s subsidiary, Millenium and Cophthorne, owns some of the largest hotel chains in the world) while the re-design will be led by Hamilton Architects. The new development will have 11 floors, three of which will be basement levels, and there will be a spa and a bar on the top floor.
City Developments Limited have owned the site since 2013, and originally had plans to turn the car park into a residential home for retired Londoners, but those plans have since been scrapped. Developers of the previous project had said that it was not possible to reinstate the tunnel, so while various media outlets have suggested the possibility of the new hotel providing direct access to Harrods, it doesn’t seem likely to happen.
In other venue news, the Museum of London is set to move to Smithfield Market.