Live Like an Aristocrat at This Chic New London Hotel

Matthieu Salvaing
Matthieu Salvaing

Lining many of the labyrinthian streets of West and Central London are picturesque rows of Victorian townhouses, many of which are covered or trimmed in white. It’s part of what makes wandering here on a sunny day so lovely.

But as anybody who has tried to stay in those parts of London on a budget knows, many of these houses are now cheap hotels and hostels. There are some cute ones, some that are serviceable, but many are downright dumps. A forlorn fate for such dignified edifices.

That’s why it was especially delightful when I discovered that one of the most exciting designers working today–Fabrizio Casiraghi–has overseen the rescue, rehabilitation, and renaissance of one of these townhouses on a small part in the central area of Paddington. That property, the Grand Hotel Bellevue London, is the latest selection for Room Key, The Daily Beast’s series on exciting new hotels.

Photograph of bedroom in the Grand Hotel Bellevue.

A bedroom at the Grand Hotel Bellevue in London.

Matthieu Salvang

Long popular amongst the culturati for decorating their homes, Casiraghi’s name has been ringing across the hotel world this spring after the opening of the Hotel des Grands Voyageurs in the 6th arrondissement of Paris. Done up in ocean liner Art Deco, here, too, Casiraghi performed the role of rescuer. He transformed a former Holiday Inn into a spot already popular for providing a design-driven venue that, for Paris, is reasonably priced.

If Grand Voyageurs cleverly explored a less-plumbed depth of the Art Deco revival at a time when some thought the craze had run its course, the Grand Bellevue is in a visual class of its own. This is in large part to a daring color scheme of a sort of burnt-orange-ish ochre and black. (I would have loved to be in that first meeting when this was proposed.)

The hotel is about as convenient as one can get–just a block and a half from Paddington Station where the Heathrow Express terminates. From here, the disparate worlds of East and West London are equally reachable. The area surrounding the station has long been bustling and diverse, but the hotel is tucked away on the leafy environs of Norfolk Square Gardens.

You enter first into an orange reception sheathed in lacquered dark boiserie with a hay-colored velvet settee. Casiraghi imagined the 60-room hotel as that of an odd couple made up of an English aristocrat and his eccentric wife. In the Pondicherry Bar next to the reception, the designer has wrapped the upper third of the room in custom tapestries of deep blue by Bode.

The bar at Grand Hotel Bellevue in London.

The bar at Grand Hotel Bellevue in London.

Matthieu Salvang

The rooms are traditional with touches of modernity. Rippling moldings embellished his rooms in Paris, here it is a repeating gothic arch. Dark furniture is paired with carpets and curtains of a more muted red-orange, blue, or green. What Casiraghi does best is that while he keeps things simple, the elements he adds are so thoughtful and elegant that the combination makes smaller rooms feel uncluttered but not spare. The bathrooms are done up in tiles that match the colors of each bedroom and come with products from Floris. My sole criticism of the property, which had lovely service and an unbeatable location, was that the antique-style shower heads left one wanting when it came to water pressure.

Otherwise, it’s hard to beat getting to stay in a place meant to feel like an eclectic townhouse designed by one of the more interesting designers working today.

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