Deco Delights at Claridge's
It may seem a little unfair that one born out of the ultimate silver cutlery drawer should have a talent worthy of rooftop bellowing; but it's a fact.
David Linley is a serious Art Deco artisan and there is no better place to enjoy this distinctive style, immaculately interpreted and exquisitely restored, than at Claridge's.
Claridge's and Art Deco go back to the twenties when the modernistic style was played out as a result of the Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes in 1925. Primary influences were Cubism, Art Nouveau, and the Russian Ballet, with a particular fondness for bold colours and streamlining found in automobile and aircraft design of the time.
In 1929, thirty years after Claridge's opened its doors, the Art Deco avant-garde, Oswald Milne, transformed the more traditional and staid lobby into the art deco jewel of Mayfair, not to say, London. In the last 78 years the weighty bronze and gilt metal revolving foyer doors, fingerprinted for decades by the rich and famous (unless they use the discreet mews entrance) have lifted many a spirit in one full swing. Entering Claridge's is and always has been special, and now, even more so.
There is a temptation to leap past the bronze 'deer' lights and up the gloriously wide staircase to the divine 'Linley' suite on the first floor, but Claridge's is such a spectacle to behold that many are simply stopped in their polished sea-of-black-and-white-chequered-marble tracks.
Whilst Claridge's is supremely British in design and concept, it is also refreshingly cosmopolitan. There is no stuffiness, no jingoism, and none of the aloofness so often associated with aristocratic hauteur: now it is the ultimate destination for many adroit luxe-trotter from around the globe and for many it is their familiar abode when visiting London where its location is quite privileged!
The Linley Suite
Being a bit of a purist at heart I requested an Art Deco Linley Suite in favour of a 'Hybrid' or 'Traditional' as I knew from the moment I saw this dreamy design duo, (drawing room/boudoir), on the night of the unveiling, that the glorious bed had my head on it.
Glamour is most alluring when it does not appear to be trying too hard; when it oozes its appeal with unfettered ease, like the classic 50's look of hat forward and hair up with few accessories and defined red lips. This nuance of fashion is what you get from the pure Deco suite where the essential lines of design and function are in perfect balance, culminating in something very close to perfect. Every piece of furniture, whether old-deco-bespoke or new-deco-bespoke, is in pristine condition: the new salon-style sofas upholstered in Aston-Martin-type leather with a lilac, violet and avocado ridged velvet; the low-table in walnut with a burr ash inlay; the deeply covetable mini bar, all sit timelessly among the restored originals: the silver fireplace, the clocks and wall lights.
The bar is quite something: we had friends for in-suite-drinks before dinner around the corner at Sketch (alas, Mr Ramsay downstairs was full) and all agreed that this was a mini-bar masterpiece. It has taken the concept of an oft' pedestrian and merely functional piece of furniture to another level and, if this mini-bar doesn't induce a Martini-stirring, then nothing will. It is made from a full-bodied Macassar ebony, surmounted in an under-lit, slightly green tinted textured glass above chrome handled doors which open up a Claridge's world of bar exotica. If the shaker isn't there, it soon will be. Atop this treasure chest we had LP chilling, a deco vase full of fragrant lilies and a frosted glass platter of truffles. This was chic party time and our friends rose to the occasion without a flutter of hesitation. We were so in the right place in Mayfair and we knew it.
Our bedroom was shown off with immense pride, it was ours for a night after all, and it delivered its promise of expectation with a WOW. The palette is lilac and silver, the walls are virginal lilac (the colour reminded me of those little violet sweets from childhood) and the silver is in the lamps and reflected surfaces and surrounds. There is a fabulous play on light throughout the suites and, unlike many luxe-hotels, you can play with the lighting to suit the mood with astonishing accuracy. That bed eventually became mine and how heavenly it was. I still say England, and of course Claridge's, is up there with the Swiss when it comes to knowing what is necessary in order to make a bed as soft as fluffy cumulous floating in milk and honey.
The boldest room of all has to be the dressing room: a glass mounted dressing table set on Marilyn-lipstick-red carpet against a curtain of mirrors. Though this may make certain eyes water it manages to capture a reflection of past glamour that suits a contemporary mood.
From here, the bathroom, and what an amazing, strangely nostalgic and chunky room this is: the vast vanity is a solid mass of toffee, cream and black marble, with seriously solid squat brass taps, the bath is quite literally the deepest bath I have ever reclined in with two shower heads to cater for the needs of the vertically challenged, while the water rises happily to one's shoulders leaving one feeling like a young child in their parents' bath. The details reminded me a little of the old fashioned swimming baths, slightly public-tiled with even a hint of that same utilitarian green in places. Again, this was charming, a sort of throw back, but definitely appealing and... wait for it... Asprey accessories, and a very generous supply indeed. The purple packaged 'purple water' range matched the boudoir-violet, how clever, and such a heavenly scent.
After Sketch and an hilarious ride home a la rickshaw with a confused driver who had the A-Z open on north London and nearly took us for our very last ride: wrong way up one-ways, stopping mid-traffic, wrong side of the road et cetera; we returned for nerve-soothing night-caps in one of the best petite chic bars in London, The Macanudo Fumoir. Usually, creamy cocktails are too sickly but this one was cut with the levels just right, and although the sweet smelling Macanudo cigars are no longer allowed in here, the allure was still as sensual.
The following morning, after feasting on superbly executed scrambled eggs and Daylesford organic smoked salmon, we left the famous revolving doors and stepped into some bright July morning sunshine where the pristine Bentleys were being dutifully polished on Brook Street, and then something struck me about this place. It is priceless.