• Imperial Hotel, London

    Offering stunning views across Russell Square, The Imperial is a 400-room hotel conveniently situated within easy walking distance of Oxford Street, Covent Garden and the West End. Darke & Taylor was sub-contracted to carry out the mechanical and electrical refurbishment of the Imperial’s rooftop and interior, along with its sister hotel, The President, located next-door.

    Imperial Hotel, London


21st century upgrade urgently required: The Imperial lacked modern amenities such as air conditioning and a modern pressurised water system. However, its age and central London location meant that space was at a premium, so a significant degree of creativity would be required during the refurbishment process.

More power please!: The hotel’s refurbishment meant that the Imperial’s old electrical system would not be able to cope with the requirements of a modern hotel, necessitating a complete overhaul; i.e. a new incoming supply, transformer, and switchgear.

Under pressure: The water system changeover was due to happen in a live hotel environment. Although the COVID shutdown meant that the hotel was closed to guests, it was still staffed and Darke & Taylor (D&T) was under the same time pressure for the changeover.

COVID: The Imperial had ordered all the plant pre-COVID but did not wish to pay for offsite storage. Consequently, D&T had to find a way to get everything down to the basement during the lockdown, whilst remaining compliant with all the COVID procedures.


Heavy lifting: Given their size and the lack of access, the six new hot water cylinders (2.5 metres wide × 4.5 metres long) had to be threaded into the sub-basement through the old lift shaft to the directors’ car park.

D&T electrical know-how: Having previously managed similar mains upgrades, D&T’s Electrical division liaised with the relevant DNO (UK Power Networks) to ensure that all the preparatory work was in place ahead of the transformer’s installation (Nov 20). D&T also specified and ordered the new switchgear to work in unison.

All change! D&T had three days in which to changeover the entire heating, domestic hot water and domestic cold-water systems for both the Imperial and the President hotels – roughly 800 rooms in total.

D&T safety protocol: D&T’s H&S officer visited the site and generated specific RAMS (Risk & Method Statements) to enable the installation to proceed safely whilst respecting social distancing at all times.


“COVID could potentially have dealt a costly blow to this project. However, with Darke & Taylor’s resourcefulness and cando attitude, we managed to get everything installed and completed on time, whilst observing the new social distancing and COVID-related protocols.”

Paul Warner, Deputy Head of Facilities

Technical overview

D&T was tasked with increasing heating, cooling and hot water capacity of two interlinked operating hotel buildings. The existing system could not meet the increased demand, and the complexity of the buildings and logistical issues with access meant that a straightforward replacement upgrade could not be achieved.

This complex project required the adaptation of legacy boilers to meet the increased demands of the building and a novel solution to retain the existing flue. We installed a new horizontally oriented hot water generator and devised and executed a plan to lower and position large tanks into restricted spaces safely and without damage.

Project details

CLIENTIconic Luxury Hotels
MAIN CONTRACTORConnor Construction

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