Meet the designer behind Booking Office 1869

Hugo Toro on his transformation of the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel’s new restaurant and bar

booking office 1869
Michael Sinclair

For his first project on British soil, Hugo Toro could hardly have asked for better. The Paris-based interior designer and architect has masterminded every detail of Booking Office 1869, the new restaurant and bar at London’s landmark St Pancras Renaissance Hotel.

Under the eye of owner and renowned hotelier Harry Handelsman, the man behind hip hangouts like Chiltern Firehouse and The Stratford, the vaulted neo-gothic building was lovingly restored to its former architectural glory. Now, in what was once the ticket office of St Pancras station – the clue’s in the name – eight-metre palm trees and chandeliers created from 267 hand-cut brass leaves preside over burnished brass tables and upholstered banquettes.

booking office 1869
Michael Sinclair

In a space like this, the challenge is creating intimacy at scale – the bar, in antique brass, marble and walnut, comes in at 22 metres. Much of the furniture has been made to bespoke designs by Toro’s studio, and the snug booths are clad in swirling fabrics by Pierre Frey.

‘My overarching ambition was to introduce a contemporary voice but still remain connected to the past,’ says Toro. ‘There’s a visual dialogue with the space’s extraordinary heritage.’ Open until late, it’s another draw for a transformed King’s Cross – and a welcome surprise for those just passing through.

booking office 1869
Michael Sinclair

We sat down with the designer to get a little insight into the project and what we should expect next...

How did your career as a designer begin?

I studied interior design at the Penninghen ESAG school in Paris, before undertaking a masters in architecture with placements in Vienna and Los Angeles. I was lucky to go straight into designing when I returned to France, with a number of small apartments and then a rooftop bar. More recent projects include restaurants such as Perruche, BB Blanche and the Michelin-starred La Scène, as well as villas and boutiques in France and abroad.

booking office 1869
Michael Sinclair

Tell us about your studio...

I originally worked as a freelance designer, before setting up my own office in Saint-Martin, in the heart of the city. We’re now a wonderful team of five – and growing. I love to work closely and collaborate with everyone in the studio, even if it’s my vision. We’ve got to a position now where we’re starting to design furniture, fabrics, patterns and graphics – we created a lot of the furniture for the Booking Office.

How would you define your style?

I’m nomadic in my inspirations. I love working with colour and atmosphere – maybe that’s because of my mother and my Mexican heritage. I’m always interested in texture and light as they define the atmosphere of a place. Historical context is also really important, and I like working with a mix of old and new. And I’m not scared of pattern!

What are you currently working on?

I recently designed Gigi, a rooftop restaurant in Paris on top of the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées on the city’s iconic Avenue Montaigne, and I’m currently working on some residential projects in the city. booking-office.co.uk; hugotoro.com

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