The Shepherds Bush Second-Chance

By Domenico Di Maio

Week 09

There is something special about stories of unexpected stylistic revival, in places that seemed to be lost forever.
I’m referring to places that have been able to change in function and aesthetics, following a tragedy, a disaster or simply a stroke of bad luck.
The walls of these places carry with them the vicissitudes of passed years, motionlessly overlooking the passage of time and the changes made to the environment around them, as if they had infinite patience.
I would like to talk about Dorsett Shepherds Bush, for all lovers of travel, and all aficionados of beautiful hotels that have everlasting history.
Let us move from Italy, across the Channel to West London, to Sheperds Bush Green. Dorsett Shepherds Bush is easily recognizable for its glorious brick façade and combination of historic and modern architectural elements. Large windows envelop the exterior, a stylistic risk that remained unchanged for years, and was a distinctive sign of the ambition that the builders had put into the project.

The hotel’s history is immense. It used to be a cultural hub where people gathered to watch movies. Designed by Frank Verity, the cinema opened in 1923 when it won the RIBA London Street Architecture Award for the best London façade. Incredibly gorgeous for the time, the cinema boasted 3000 seats, had endless carpets, silver lamps and films were accompanied not by a mere piano but by the Pavilion Symphony Orchestra.
The building experienced years of splendour until 1944, the year that a serious bombing destroyed the interior forever.
The second opportunity for rebirth was slow in coming, the site key passed from hand to hand until it became a bingo hall.
The next several years brought about different problems; in 2004 it seemed all set to become a hotel but the permits were only granted in 2009, following various deviations and design changes.
Only in 2014 did the doors re-open, ready to be admired in all its glory: 317 bedrooms including 24 suites, three meeting rooms, Dorsett Lounge, several specialty restaurants, a destination bar and a spa located on the top floor overlooking the Green.
One of these rooms is waiting to be booked for my next trip to London. I long to see first hand the result of something that seemed to be destined for a certain death. I need to breathe in the refined air that circulates the interiors as a result of its stylish rebirth.