If you were to go hotel spotting in the streets of Paddington, you'd be more likely to encounter chintzy, 1970s-style B&Bs than sleek urban hotspots. However, as of last month The Pilgrm has been seeking to switch up the standard by throwing open its beautifully appointed doors to travellers and locals alike. This long-held, recently realised dream from Jason Catifeoglou, Andreas Thrasyvoulou and Steph Thrasyvoulou aims to bring some of the history and heritage of the surrounding area inside while escaping the time warp.
The trio collaborated with Sheffield design studio 93ft to restore rather than remove the building's original spirit. The bright blue tiles on the hotel's façade are a reference to those initially found there; the interior staircase has been stripped and sanded down to reveal its bare form; and 50 layers of paint were removed from the cast iron balustrades. Custom pieces by 93ft, such as the tubular chandelier that dominates the lobby-slash-café, are joined by radiators sourced from old schools and hospitals, cabinets that used to belong in museums and highly Instagrammable plants from Hackney's Conservatory Archives.
Simplicity and inclusivity are the key values driving The Pilgrm - the neighbourhood café is designed to welcome passers-by as much as hotel guests, the cosy nooks in the upstairs corridor are an ideal spot to open a laptop or a book, and there's a strong lean towards "everything you need, nothing you don't". Oh, and that missing 'i' in the name - a happy accident that Catifeoglou chose to roll with and a clue towards its laid-back, no-frills vibe.
The 73 rooms are hidden along pleasingly warren-like corridors splitting off a spiralling back staircase, creating a feeling more akin to lodging in a London townhouse than an anonymous hotel. The lightbulbs on which each room number is written are reminiscent of old-fashioned lampposts, while behind each door lies one of four categories: hostel-style bunk beds, or small, medium or large bedrooms. Dark blue carpets line up with parquet planks, simple black lamps spotlight the bed and there's a stack of indie magazines to entertain alongside a Netflix-enabled television and Marshall speakers.
What's for breakfast?
Nab a millennial-pink velvet chair in the lounge and choose from either piles of pastries and fresh fruit or the just-experimental-enough breakfast menu - try the bowl of kimchi rice with a tea poached egg, slices of ginger and coriander. Alternatively, grab a Crosstown Doughnut and coffee from the downstairs café counter on your way out.
How about lunch and dinner?
The aforementioned lounge, located on the first floor of the hotel with a sliver of balcony overlooking the street, is the heart of the building and a cosy, comfortable spot to nestle into at any time of day. Olive-green banquette seating extends along one wall and low circular tables dot the remaining parquet floor, all overseen by an open kitchen. Head chef Sara Lewis has created an all-day menu that takes in influences from around the world whilst retaining a solidly British character - think crispy pork belly glazed in soy and served with chickpea purée and chilli miso, or "the ultimate" cheese toastie, stuffed with meaty wild mushrooms. It would be a sin to say no to the chocolate mousse with almond brittle.
Is there a bar?
In the spirit of keeping things simple, the lounge also does double duty as a bar. Laboratory-like bottles of each cocktail, designed by bartenders from esteemed locales around the world, are stacked above the kitchen counter, with the Pilgrm's own concoction of rum, verjus and lime sherbet taking pride of place in the most Willy Wonka-esque of all. We worked our way through the Reverse Martinez and Silvertone, but weren't quite brave enough to try Tony Conigliaro's Terroir, an earthy combination of clay, flint and moss.
There's an essentials-only philosophy in action, but you can still expect custom toiletries, free wifi and a pantry on each floor stocked with unlimited tea, coffee and water.
Things I should know
Pack light - the custom "wail" (wardrobe rail, we think) leaves enough space to hang your hat alongside a jacket or two, but those who never mastered capsule dressing may struggle.
Within a short walk I can find…
Paddington is admittedly no Shoreditch or Soho (yet) but you're not far from media members' club and events space The Frontline Club, Monocle's Kioskafé and the smart neighbourhoods of Marylebone and Notting Hill.