The Cheval collection explains why serviced apartments are the next big thing

It can be found on the curve of a classic London street, but Lexham Gardens by Horse House is also ahead of the curve when it comes to tapping into the emerging trend of luxury private residences for travellers.

The upmarket hotel brand has already earned a solid reputation with ‘those in the know’ for its stylish serviced apartments, located in chic corners of London and Edinburgh. Opened last summer, the new addition – Lexham Gardens by Cheval Maison – takes the brand in a more distinctive and boutique direction.

Made up of 30 homes away from home – in the form of beautifully curated apartments in the heart of Kensington – guests can take advantage of all the usual offerings the brand has become known for, including 24-hour concierge, key thoughtful interiors (such as designer textiles, artwork and fine linens) and stylish public spaces with gyms and chic living areas.

Inspired by the quintessentially British heritage of the South Kensington building in which it is located, the Lexham Gardens apartments have three distinct designs: ‘Racing Green’, ‘Luxurious Glamorous Red’ and ‘Cool Neutral Equestrian’.

Contemporary architects Guarnieri Architects and the London-based design studio of Monika Tyborowska MojoConcept oversaw the interior design, which includes striking murals, leather headboards with belt straps, and lovely details, such as comfy kitchen window seats.

In one of the ‘Glamorous Red’ apartments, the aesthetic is, in fact, more of a deep, rich burgundy hue – a color theme applied throughout the residence. Walls are paneled in a rich hue, but nicely offset by a marble dining table and mid-century style lighting. Petrol blue velvet headboards, burnished mirrors and thick oriental rugs give a warm and welcoming ambiance; while crisp linens, state-of-the-art fixtures in the kitchens and bathrooms, and full-size Arran toiletries bring a hotel vibe to your stay.

Each Cheval property – and there are 12 in total – offers its own unique list of perks – whether it’s the spectacular views of Tower Bridge (at Horse Three Docks) or his own cinema (found at Gloucester Horse Park). As for Lexham Gardens by Cheval Maison, guests can take advantage of the landscaped atrium garden and its own state-of-the-art fitness center, with Precor equipment including a treadmill, elliptical, and stationary bike.

In addition to offering privacy, space and flexibility, customers can also use the brand’s ordering service for restaurant deliveries; book activities with the concierge and arrange luxury welcome baskets upon arrival.

By revealing more about its evolution and why the trend is so popular these days, John Philipson, Chief Operating Officer at Horse collection, speaks to Forbes about the brand’s philosophy.

Tell us about the Cheval Collection concept?

Cheval Collection offers luxurious and comfortable accommodation – a “home away from home” – whether for a few days or for a longer period. The concept behind Luxury Serviced Apartments is to provide an unforgettable living experience with unparalleled service. The apartments are meant to be a home for guests as they explore the bustling and historic cities in which we find ourselves. In addition, each apartment has its own character to fit into the neighborhood.

The notion of luxury apartment living really seems to have exploded in the last couple of years, why?

Most people want to get away from reality, but also don’t want to compromise on the comforts of their own home. The concept of luxury apartment living offers the opportunity to feel like getting away from it all, while having everything you need to feel at home.

Upon arrival, our guests can expect to find all the basics needed for their stay, as well as luxury items. The flexibility of a fully equipped kitchen in each apartment, for example, means guests can choose to dine in comfort, using a delivery service to their front door, or taking advantage of the restaurants on their doorstep. It’s even easier at our Edinburgh properties, especially Horse The Edinburgh Large, who Houses The registry club, a staple on Edinburgh’s cocktail and afternoon tea scene, and also serving breakfast. During their stay, our guests have access to other services that we offer in partnership with other leading brands, from spa treatments to private chefs.

We recognized the opportunity to raise the profile of serviced apartments at a time when guests are acutely aware of the importance of hygiene and social distancing.

It’s also undeniable that the “Airbnb factor” has opened customers’ eyes to hotel alternatives in recent years, but standards can vary widely, which is where our product becomes more appealing. Over the past two years, our online and digital services in particular have really come into their own, and the adoption of our app, offering online check-in, direct messaging and keyless entry into select properties, has increased considerably.

Why did you choose Edinburgh as your second city to expand?

Edinburgh is brimming with history and teeming with intriguing culture and the Cheval Apartments reflect the city and heritage in which they are located. Edinburgh has always been a mainstay on any visit to the UK from abroad, but its popularity with the holiday market has increased markedly since the pandemic. The city was already on the radar, and investment in new attractions, such as the Johnnie Walker Experience, has only broadened its appeal.

What is the USP behind Cheval versus booking a hotel or any other serviced apartment?

Our ambition is to be customers’ first choice when booking luxury accommodation, offering a range of diverse, high-end and fully-equipped apartments for any length of stay. We offer spacious, fully-equipped apartments with all the facilities you would expect of a five-star hotel: access to the gym, 24-hour reception staff, on-site maintenance and housekeeping.

Per square foot, our apartments offer significantly more value than larger suites offered at comparable hotels, without compromising on service. Cheval’s offer is particularly suitable for multi-generational families traveling together, as we can accommodate everyone in the same apartment. In terms of choice, our apartments vary from stylish one-bedroom open-plan apartments to large four-bedroom penthouses, giving our guests a wide range of options.

Is the design aspect important for the brand and why?

Design is extremely important to Cheval. Each residence has its own style, taking inspiration from its location but also emphasizing comfort, which is especially important for our longer staying guests.

Cheval the Edinburgh Grand, for example, follows a more traditional and grand feel to suit the building’s history as the National Bank of Scotland. While the apartments of Thorney Horse Court in London are decorated in a Regency style with a nod to the area’s history and proximity to Kensington Palace. Each represents a different side of the city, offering something for every type of traveler. All of our apartments are designed to meet all the needs of the modern traveler.

How is Cheval Maison different?

Cheval Maison, the second brand in the Cheval Collection portfolio, differs from Cheval Residences in that it caters to clients who prefer a more residential neighborhood or local vibe.

The first property of this brand to open was Lexham Gardens by Cheval Maison in July 2021. This elegant property is located away from the usual tourist thoroughfares and rather nestled in the leafy streets between South Kensington and Kensington High Street. Behind the iconic white columned facade are 30 luxurious and beautifully designed apartments, alongside a landscaped garden oasis, state-of-the-art fitness center and beautiful reception area on the ground floor , all planned and designed to give guests the feeling of living like a local in the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea.

What are you looking for in a destination where you open a property?

Location is most important, but building configuration is also key, in line with our USP of providing more space for your money than our hotel competitors.

Proximity to major public transport links is also an important consideration. All of our apartments are within walking distance of transport, with the option of parking at some properties, as well as close to exciting cultural points of interest – so our guests have an abundance of things to see and do.

Local points of interest often inspire the ambience of apartments, for example Horse Abbey Strand Apartments at Holyrood was named for and inspired by the Palace of Holyroodhouse. We already have eight residences and a Cheval Maison in London, and are always on the lookout for exciting new sites to develop properties.

What does the concierge offer?

Our concierge service is available 24/7 to ensure that guests’ stays at the properties are as smooth and comfortable as possible. They can help you with all the services you would expect from a luxury property, from dry cleaning, laundry and airport pick up, to mail and courier services and theater reservations and restaurant. We will also help with deliveries, so if a client wishes to pre-stock their apartment with a supermarket store, we can facilitate this.

What future for Cheval Collection?

With the increase in stays, we want Cheval Collection to be the first option for local visitors who want to get more out of their land. We are also exceptionally well placed to welcome international visitors, offering flexible bookings, increased precautionary measures, virtual direct contact with the team using the Cheval app and a concierge team able to coordinate Covid-19 testing.

Having launched Lexham Gardens by Cheval Maison last year, we continue to seek opportunities for growth and expansion of the Cheval Collection brand over the coming year. We plan to expand internationally, with a Frankfurt property in the pipeline, and our ambition is to become the preeminent leader in luxury apartment accommodation worldwide, regardless of length of stay.

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