Being a hotel manager in one of London's busiest hotels must be one of the best jobs in the world. It's not without its stresses, but no day is the same and I never tire of the weird, wonderful and sometimes downright comical requests we receive. But one of the things I most love about my job is the creativity and freedom I'm allowed.
The Cumberland, where I've been General Manager for the past two years, is one of the Capital's most contemporary, iconic and edgy hotels - located just at the end of one of the world's busiest shopping streets, Oxford Street. So far, so good. But we're constantly looking at ways to maintain that edge and continue to drive the hype and buzz the hotel is known for.
Our foyer is fast becoming a must-use venue for showcasing contemporary art. With its glass walls, striking lighting and gallery-like space, the foyer perfectly fits the bill as a great pop-up art venue, and last year hosted a high profile street art exhibition with floor to ceiling installations from the likes of urban legends Blek Le Rat, Banksy and Shepherd Fairey.
This Friday - August 3rd - the hotel opens its doors to its latest exhibition, 'Athleticizm' by DJ and urban art pioneer, Goldie. The exhibit features twelve larger than life paintings of the UK's leading Olympic hopefuls, including cyclist Victoria Pendleton, triple jumper Philips Idowu, Heptathlete Jessica Ennis, diver Tom Daley and gymnast Louis Smith.
The style of the images are a departure from typical portraits - they've been given the 'Goldie makeover' if you will - with a blend of vibrant colours straight out of the spray can. They don't simply capture the athlete next to their piece of kit - they're far more active and inspirational. For example Louis Smith, who recently won bronze in the team event, is seen throwing himself into the air on his pommel horse. Likewise Victoria Pendelton has her head down and she's in full racing pose, you can almost feel the power going through her legs as she spins round the velodrome.
Athleticizm is the latest instalment in the ever-changing landscape of The Cumberland. Last October's Urban Art exhibition (in association with auctioneers Dreweatts Bloomsbury ) attracted huge numbers into the hotel to visit the free street art exhibition, and 'Athleticizm' looks set to equal this buzz.
Athleticizm is free to hotel guests and members of the public from Friday 3rd August - Sunday 12th August at The Cumberland hotel, Great Cumberland Place, London W1C 1LZ (nearest tube Marble Arch). www.guoman.com/athleticizm