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Carole Titmuss looks at the energy efficient refurbishment of one of London’s iconic hotels

If you have ever been to theatre-land in London, then you can’t have missed the renowned Strand Palace Hotel, which has been welcoming guests since 1909.  The Hotel’s central location along with its quirky contemporary décor mean, the hotel guests expect a high level of comfort and experience during their stay.

The hotel has chosen Mitsubishi Electric’s innovative Hybrid VRF air conditioning system to provide cooling and comfort throughout its site, with plans to install over 700 units by April 2020.

With an average daily occupancy of 87%, it was crucial that the hotel remained fully operational during installation to minimise loss of revenue and disruption to guests.

The project, which is the largest installation of its kind in Europe, began in November 2017 and nearly 488 of the 785 rooms have been refurbished so far.

This refurbishment minimises environmental impact, avoids disruption to the hotel’s business and averts the need for high maintenance bills

Carole Titmuss Refurb projects Carole Titmuss Publisher and editor of Refurb Projects

Comfort and energy efficiency

The Strand Palace knew that modernising its heating and cooling systems was fundamental to maintaining a quality experience for guests. Ensuring high levels of energy efficiency was also a factor considered during this process.

“There were a number of key factors that led to the choice of the Hybrid VRF system,” explained David Abercrombie, Chief Engineer of Strand Palace.

“The cost saving potential from increased control of heating and cooling, lower maintenance requirements and minimal disruption to the hotel were all very important, as was the ability to reduce energy consumption”.


The Strand Palace Hotel has been welcoming guests since 1909

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The refurbishment is all about guest comfort

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Superior King

Central location

Right in the heart of London's theatre-land

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529 Strand Palace Hotel

Luxurious dining

Guests expect the highest levels of comfort

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Occupancy levels

It was important that the hotel could keep areas open during the refurbishment

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Deluxe Studio Double

Removing refrigerant in occupied spaces

The Hybrid VRF system was a perfect solution, with its unique 2-pipe system allowing for simultaneous heating and cooling with heat recovery.

Increased efficiency was possible through use of a central controller, which allows heating and cooling to be switched off in individual rooms, while keeping other rooms at the optimum temperature. This saves energy as there is less work to do when occupants turn the systems back on.

Individual room controllers are installed in each room and connected to the MELCloud app, which can be used to control and monitor Mitsubishi Electric products remotely. Live reports can also be obtained to help set usage targets for the future.

Although it has not been implemented yet, the Hybrid VRF system has an additional feature allowing it to by synced to a hotel’s booking and check-in system to monitor usage during each customer’s visit.

No leak detection

One major cost-saving benefit is that there is no need for leak detection. As water is used as the heat transfer vehicle, refrigerant only enters the Hybrid Branch Controller (HBC) boxes, of which there are six or seven per floor, rather than any of the hundreds of guest rooms. As a result, no monitoring or detection system is needed to be set-up or maintained.

As the Hybrid VRF could be installed floor by floor, it provided the perfect solution for the hotel. Ted Connell, specifier and designer at Elementa, said “many different systems were assessed, but the modular installation of the Hybrid VRF made it stand out as the right option for The Strand.

“With this system, it was possible to complete the installation floor by floor, even half a floor at a time where necessary, allowing the hotel to remain open during the process. This phased approach also solved the problem of limited roof space for a chiller system, making the Hybrid VRF the natural choice all round.”

Complete flexibility

Ease and flexibility of installation was another important factor, and the Hybrid VRF’s slimline vents, which work within the hotel’s existing ceiling voids, were of huge benefit during the process.

Mark Harry of installer, Working Environments said “The system was incredibly easy to fit as it was familiar to the installers, having been designed to mirror the set-up of a traditional VRF. We were also able to work around dormers, supporting beams and different layouts that often come with a building of this age”.

The installation of the Hybrid VRF systems has minimised environmental impact, avoided disruption to the hotel’s business and averted the need for high maintenance bills, while allowing for close control and monitoring.

Carole Titmuss is editor of Refurb Projects magazine