When the mastermind restaurateurs behind some of London's best and most stylish restaurants opened The Beaumont, their first hotel, they exceeded expectations. Popupla founder Pavia Rosati checked in and didn't want to leave.
LONDON – What makes a traveler fall in love with a destination? Is it the people? The surroundings? The architecture? The history? The food? It depends on so many factors (the place in question, the context of the journey) that I'm not sure the question can even be answered. But I do know that my love affair with London reached new heights when I discovered restaurant in 2004.
The brasserie in a former car showroom on Picadilly is elegant and buzzy, the menu is filled with hearty favorites like duck confit, and the kitchen stays open until midnight, a rarity in this go-to-bed-early town. I can't count the number of meals I ate under the chandelier, nor would I want to. As I've gotten to know London better with time — marrying an Englishman, settling into our home in Highgate — The Wolseley's charms have never faded.
It's just one of the many popular London eateries that restaurateurs Chris Corbin and Jeremy King have created since the 1980s in their distinctive Franco-Mitteleuropean style. These guys are masters at creating a room. Imagine what they could do with a whole hotel.
What they did, in fact, is create , an Art Deco beauty on a quiet street in Mayfair. My husband and I checked in for a night a few months ago, and we made the most of it — cocktails at the American Bar, dinner with friends at the Colony Grill, then late night drinks the Cub Bar, a room reserved for hotel guests. You know when you can't go to bed because you don't want to miss anything? That's how I felt.
I wanted to soak in every detail, starting with the lobby: the wood-paneled walls, the striking black-and-white checked floor, the oil paintings and sculptures on display throughout. The American Bar has an extensive list of bourbons and whiskeys and walls are lined with head shots from the early days of Hollywood. In the clubby Colony Grill Room restaurant, red leather banquettes are arranged under 1920s-style sports murals — skiing, horse racing, diving. The basement is home to an old-fashioned barbershop, a small gym with running machines and free weights, and a spa and hammam covered in marble mosaic tiles.
The Art Deco theme continues in our large bedroom, which held so many distractions — picture books of English country houses, dice and playing cards, a really big bathtub, and lovely views onto the Browns Hart Gardens, the elevated park across the street.
Our windows also looked out onto Room, the suite created by artist Antony Gormley that looks from the outside like a giant man crouching on the corner of the building. The bedroom within may be the only space in the hotel that is not Art Deco but rather a minimalist wood-lined, temple-like chamber at the top of a short staircase.
When I toured the hotel shortly after it opened, I learned that Corbin and King's inspiration was an imaginary American called Jimmy, a rake who came to London I the 1920s to seek his fortune — or to escape his troubles back home. You can just picture the type — gorgeous in his tuxedo, seducing the ladies, winning big at craps, losing even bigger at poker, and driving off in the sunset in his convertible race car. This is the mood evoked throughout, to excellent effect.
After a big breakfast of croissants and kedgeree, we left the hotel reluctantly, not in a race car but in the Beaumont's chauffer-driven Daimler. The sun was bright and the air was warm. London felt better than ever.
Rates begin at £530. with Tablet Hotels.