Standing in front of the white, boxy building in the Shepherd’s Bush section of London, the last thing you would expect it to be is a boutique hotel. But there it is, K West Hotel and Spa London, transformed from a BBC recording studio into a hip contemporary facility that proudly keeps its rock ‘n roll history alive with a music library, music-connected art throughout the building and live music performances every third Thursday of the month.
From 1971 to 1995 the K West, then called the Kensington House Recording Studios, was known for musicians such as David Bowie, Pink Floyd, Bob Marley, Roxy Music, the Rolling Stones, The Kinks, and others laying down tracks in this building. The West London location of the studio is located close to Shepherd’s Bush Empire and Hammersmith Event Apollo, both popular music venues. Members of The Who, The Clash and The Sex Pistols all hail from Shepherd’s Bush, officially the UK’s rock ‘n roll capital. The group Queen lived together in an apartment on the next street over from the studio.
You can feel the music vibes in this building even before you enter the front door; when we arrived, a group of teenaged groupies had gathered near the entrance hoping to catch a glimpse of the boy band from America that was staying here.
The art throughout the 15-year-old hotel is music-themed, with photos on many walls of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, Amy Winehouse and others. The library is basically a music library, filled with biographies of many well-known musicians of the past and present. We settled into a comfortable couch one afternoon and immersed ourselves in a poignant story of the depression and subsequent suicide of 26-year-old singer/songwriter Nick Drake. In a moving journal written by Drake’s sister Gabrielle she chronicles painful days and weeks leading up to the suicide and the tortuous frustration his behavior caused his parents who were living with him at the time. Monty Don, a writer and broadcaster, wrote of Drake “No one can listen to his songs without recognizing the painful shyness and trouble that they reveal. Yet for all his softness of tone, Nick, on record at least, sang clear, exposing himself in word and tone. Perhaps the cost of this was too high. These things can be a kind of torture; but then, if you are a musician, it is a torture NOT to do them, too. Torment from every quarter.”
To continue the music tradition of K West, the boutique hotel has partnered up with The Recording Studio London to present, every third Thursday of the month, K West Live, in which music is performed by local singers and bands, free Portobello beer comes with every meal as well as a chance to win a day in the nearby recording studio, which specializes in writing, production and artist development. Based in an East London warehouse, the studio works with a variety of acts from emerging talent to major label artists. The free studio day guests might win is worth $664.
At the K West Studio Bar, a live DJ spins the latest tunes every Thursday through Saturday from 10pm until 2am.
Décor in the 219 bedrooms is contemporary, minimalist and calm, and each room boasts the latest gadgetry including Smart TVs, Bose speakers, in-room tablets and Handy smartphones. The privacy door cards tease “Do Not Disturb; I’m Having Too Much Fun.”
Below the ground floor, K Fit, the members’ gym includes the latest equipment and classes including Boxfit and Pilates. K Spa, which won a World Luxury Spa Award in 2016, offers a Hydrotherapy pool, aromatic herbal steam room, Scandinavian style sauna, dry flotation room, and London’s first “Snow Paradise,” a sort of year-round wintertime experience in which a Finnish style hot-and-cold oasis set to 5 degrees Farenheit, is filled with natural snow where guests, after heating up in the sauna, can settle down, cool off, fluff around in the snow, and improve circulation.
Wouldn’t it be fun to play in the snow here with Mick and his group? He just blew through London on tour. You never know.