Kit Kemp: Legendary Creative, Designer, and the Visual Force Behind Firmdale Hotels

With a 30-year career in design, it’s only fitting that Kit Kemp is also a symbol of vibrancy, distinctiveness, and fearless creativity. As the creative director of Firmdale Hotels, a hotel chain she co-owns with her husband Tim, Kit is redefining luxury hotel design and the hospitality industry at large with her eye-catching original concepts. 

With a reputation worldwide for all things unique and visually appealing, Kit continues to blaze her own trail as to what a hotel room experience should really offer guests. 

Kit Kemp: A Colorful Career

Kit and Tim first opened London’s Dorset Square Hotel in 1985, the first of what would quickly become a collection of 10 boutique hotels in London and New York, each one more unique and curious than the last. The team found their niche in overlooked places that were off the beaten path and largely left to crumble. 

Breathing new life into these places is an accurate statement, but doesn’t do their work justice. They’ve turned everything from parking lots to warehouses into stately, luxurious hotels that are as captivating as they are comfortable. 

Covent Garden London Hotel

Kit’s eye for design has led to three published books and collaborations with some of the world’s finest brands, including Wedgwood, Anthropologie, Wilton Carpets, and Fine Cell Work, resulting in collections of fabrics, wallpaper, tableware, fragrance, and beyond. Kit has a well-decorated trophy case filled with recognition from CN Traveller, House & Garden, local business awards, and countless other mentions and accolades. 

Her most recent conquest was the 2017 grand opening of Shop Kit Kemp, an online store filled with ready-made home products designed by Kit and her design team.

Creative in Every Sense of the Word

Much of Kit’s success stems from her ability to blend color, texture, and materials in ways that push the boundaries of what’s been done before, especially when it comes to the hotel industry. 

Her style is a blend of storytelling, fashion, art, and emotion, leaving no detail overlooked. From floor to ceiling (and even the floors and ceilings themselves), you’ll find Kit’s essence infused in some pleasant, refreshing, or surprising way that’s almost guaranteed to leave a lasting impact. 

The bowling alley at Ham Yard London

Guests from around the world marvel at the fineries and details they discover in every Firmdale Hotel property, such as the five 30-foot oak trees Kit purchased for the Ham Yard that had to be brought in by crane. Not many others would go to such great lengths to design such perfect hotels, and those who have had the pleasure of visiting one of the properties appreciate the dedication that’s built into every square inch.

Firmdale Hotels are the best choices for sweet dreams — mainly because they’re precisely the stuff dreams are made of. Celebrities like Taylor Swift and Sir Mick Jagger have frequented their properties (namely the Ham Yard), hosting everything from high-end after parties to screenings in its 200-seat cinema.

But for Kit, color-play and good design are all in a day’s work. “A good hotel should have that sense of arrival and an adventure throughout the building because if you come off a huge aeroplane, you feel rather mass-produced.”

The Whitby NYC
Two-Bedroom Oak Leaf Suite at Ham Yard