Defying the Landscape of 2020

Despite the huge toll that this year has taken on the hospitality sector, Shiva Hotels are defying the limitations with their opening of two wonderful properties in central London which the team at Ultimate Library were lucky enough to curate extensive book collections for.

Just a stone’s throw from the historic entrance to Buckingham Palace sits The Guardsman Hotel and a few miles down the road, Middle Eight nestles between Holborn and Covent Garden. Both have a distinctive feel, with design by Tonik Associates and architecture by Ray Hole and Dexter Moren. This team has helped to bring an edge to the significance of location for each of the properties.

After both were delayed during the first lockdown, the hotels went on to open properly in October. But as a second lockdown loomed, the properties were forced to close their doors to guests – a real blow considering the time, effort and thought that went into their planning. Given the recent announcement of an end to the second lockdown, the hotels will aim to reopen once it is safe to do so.

The Guardsman

The Guardsman is an intimate, historic and luxury property with the distinct feel of an old-school private members club. Guests can choose from a range of different rooms, with each of the exclusive residences on the top floors named after some of the first female MPs in the UK. Spaces for socialising and dining are set over two floors, with the menus reflecting delicious British cuisine that appeals to everyone in the family.

The book collection that Ultimate Library curated was suited to reflect a sense of place for the hotel, with a great selection of titles on royal history, culture and art. In addition to this, other books that helped to reflect the history and landscape of London over the centuries were also chosen to ensure guests have a comprehensive reference library to help navigate the best places to eat, drink and visit in the capital city. For the dining room, books on cookery, food heritage, wine and alcohol were chosen to enhance the guests’ experience of the eatery.

For the residences, a unique selection of titles were curated in line with the rest of the collection for the public areas in the hotel. Books on political satire, history and art add a quirky edge and sense of homeliness to each of the residences, with a few great fiction titles added for guests to browse in the comfort of these elegantly designed spaces.

Middle Eight Hotel

Though both hotels operate under the Shiva banner, Middle Eight has a very different and unique feel from the design and ethos of The Guardsman. Within easy walking distance from some of the best theatres and music venues in the country, the property and its intriguing name pay homage to the musical landscape of Covent Garden. Interiors, designed again by Tonik Associates, are inspired by nature and natural materials are used throughout the property. Walking through the door, one is greeted by a splendid wooden sculpture and just adjacent to the entrance sits the Sycamore Bar, over which a multitude of burnished metal leaves hang like a tree’s autumnal canopy.

For the main library area, Ultimate Library curated a vast selection of titles to adorn the naturally inspired shelves. Books ranged on several different themes, with a focus on wellbeing titles, books for a sense of location and additional classics to create a rich and sumptuous library. In addition to these more general editions, titles on music, the arts and fashion were chosen for the main unit to draw attention from guests, with a particularly glossy edition of Rihanna’s new book from Phaidon at the centre.

Christian Graf – General Manager

“The Ultimate Library team curated a beautiful collection of books which reflect Middle Eight’s values and passions  – from wellbeing and local history to music, fashion and the natural world – and are perfect for guests to browse, to escape into and be inspired by.”

Each of the suites, themed according to a range of famous songs from renowned like the The Kinks and David Bowie, includes a selection of specially curated titles. A combination of hardback reading books for guests’ perusal and striking illustrated titles for coffee tables add a sense of embellished luxury to the botanically styled suites.


Regardless of the disruption that this challenging year has brought to the hospitality industry, Shiva Hotels still have faith that the sector will find its firm feet once the after-effects of Covid-19 begin to ease. In the meantime, both The Guardsman and Middle Eight Hotel are available to book online. Their book collections, as well as their unique and thought-provoking ethos and design set them apart as two wonderful luxury properties to visit.