TRIPLE-DECK bunk beds stacked up in tiny rooms subdivided with cheap, hastily assembled partition walls… the Hyde Park Hostel on Inverness Terrace in Bayswater was a pile ‘em high lodging house, unbefitting of the grand buildings it occupied.
This was where many travellers spent their first night in London, paying between £10 and £30 a night for the privilege.
Location wise, it couldn’t have come much better. It’s a stone’s throw from Hyde Park and a shortish stroll to Marble Arch and Oxford Street — so must have seemed a bargain. But the big rub was the accommodation.
There was an astonishing 351 beds crammed into three five-storey terrace houses, with as many as 21 beds in some of the cheaper rooms. So, not a lot of space for privacy.
This was not what the Victorian architects of these grand residences would have had in mind when they were built in the early 19th century.
Now, the properties at 2-6 Inverness Terrace have been restored to their former glory, and this penthouse on the third and fourth storeys of No 2 is very much the jewel in the crown.
Priced at £4.35million, the 1,782 sq ft duplex property, has three bedrooms — two en-suite — and a reception room with vast dimensions of 20ft by 16ft. Amelia Bardot, who was part of developer MHA London’s in-house interior design team, says the company was not fazed by the task when it acquired the buildings in 2012, after transforming two other rundown buildings in Old Street and Lewisham.
‘We saw an opportunity in the local area of Bayswater which we felt was undervalued, particularly given the approved £1billion redevelopment of the nearby Whiteleys shopping centre, which will have a positive and considerable impact on the surrounding area.’
The Hyde Park Hostel was not the only cheap lodging house in the area. In post-war times, Bayswater, with its transient population, has become something of a magnet for people arriving in the capital looking for budget living space while they find their feet.
But this is beginning to change as developers, such as MHA London, realise the potential of the district. This didn’t mean, of course, that the condition of the houses didn’t raise some eyebrows among the MHA team.
‘The budget hostel had a bad history of anti-social behaviour locally,’ says Amelia. ‘It had multiple bunk beds crowded into each room resting against ornate plasterwork on the walls. The stucco facade was impressive, but was critically in need of repair. Internally, there were dividing walls and lowered ceilings throughout the building and a lift punched through the middle of the building disrupting the historic fabric and original plasterwork.
‘You could, however, see hints and suggestions of the original beauty and grandeur of the building, the existing staircases wound through the middle of each building with beautiful banisters and handrails and there were glimpses of the impressive cornices and plasterwork around ceilings and along walls throughout.
‘The existing sash windows and panelling were also exposed in places and revealed the care and skill that had gone into the original fabric and design of the building.’
One of the three houses was sold off early in the project by MHA, with the other two divided into ten flats each. A penthouse at No. 4, a mirror image of this apartment, has already sold.
The restoration work involved a range of master craftsmen and, because the buildings are Grade II listed, the close involvement of planning officers.
‘As we uncovered the dropped ceilings and opened out the sub-divided spaces there were lots of original features that could be saved and restored,’ Amelia adds.
‘We worked with skilled carpenters, plaster craftsman and decorators to repair and restore the existing features and historic fabric of the building.
‘We also worked closely with Westminster City Council’s planning officers and heritage officers to ensure that the historic value and fabric of the building was retained and restored. The two penthouse apartments have been refurbished, decorated and furnished as luxury, period apartments to reflect the elegance and opulence of the building while appealing to a modern and sophisticated buyer.’
Benefiting from secure lift access and guest cloakroom facilities, the lower floor of the penthouse at No. 2 features a private entrance hall, dining room, spacious living room and a stylish, designer kitchen with bespoke joinery. The kitchen also has book-matched Neolith worktops and comes complete with top-of-the-range built-in appliances, including a coffee maker and wine fridge. The home also features double doors between the main living areas, period features, comfort cooling throughout, sash windows and parquet flooring providing a light-filled, impressive entertaining space.
The upper floor features a spacious master suite, a large dressing room and a beautiful en-suite bathroom, reminiscent of a luxury hotel, with a roll top bath and separate shower facilities. Two double bedrooms and a shower room complete this floor.
Martin Bikhit, managing director at the penthouse’s agents Kay & Co, comments: ‘Lovingly transformed from a shabby hostel into a very desirable place to live, we are anticipating a lot of interest as it’s not often homes like these come onto the market.’
What you get for your money
■ Luxury 1,782 sq ft penthouse apartment
■ 20ft by 16ft reception room
■ Private lift access
■ Designer kitchen with bespoke joinery, bookmatched Neolith worktops and top-of-the-range built-in appliances, including a coffee maker and wine fridge
■ Restored original cornicing
■ Original double doors between main living areas
■ Master bedroom with a large dressing room and ensuite, featuring a roll top bath and separate shower facilities