Pennethorne’s Café Bar

A contemporary twist in an historical setting, Pennethorne’s Café Bar gives one of the UK’s most admired 18th Century buildings a new and exciting eating space that nods to bygone era while employing modern design

Somerset House is one of the UK’s finest and largest 18th century buildings, it is Grade 1 listed and of international importance to our architectural heritage. The venue offers visitors a range of eating and drinking options, with Pennethorne’s Café bar the latest addition to the portfolio.

The aim of the design brief was to create a space which would provide a completely different feel from the other restaurants at Somerset House. The design takes inspiration from Sir James Pennethorne, the architect who completed the magnificent New Wing and references influences from Pennethorne’s European Grand Tour. 

The interior treatment is rich, dark and daringly moody. It reflects early 19th century tastes and adds a contemporary twist, with grey and ink-blue walls, antiqued bronze mirrors, dark timber, Carrera marble counter tops and bespoke banquettes in navy leather and velvet. The walls are decorated with hand-carved cameos. 

  • Client: Compass Group
  • Location: Somerset House, The Strand, London
  • Size: 186 sq m
  • Timescale: 5 weeks
  • Designer: SHH
  • Budget: £300,000

“The challenges of the project came from working within a Grade 1 listed building and the complex joinery items. Portview coped well with a busy site, a short programme and restricted deliveries to site. The client is very happy with the result.”

Rose McShane, Project Architect, SHH