London Art Fair Tour at The Connaught

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We arrived for one of the London Art Fair tours at The Connaught Hotel, and settled down in one of the champagne rooms to a light continental breakfast of French pastries and filter coffee.

How excited we were to learn that Guy Oliver, an Interior Designer and architect and who had been commissioned to redesign the hotel, was our tour guide!

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We learnt that the hotel was built in 1897 and designed to give the feel of a private house rather than a hotel.

As we walked through the hotel, we learnt that if you were wealthy enough you could hire out the entire 5th and 6th floors which could then be converted into your very own apartment with interconnecting rooms. Loved the openness of the mahogany staircase with the various art installations. Guy explained that the further you descend the stairs, the ladies in the pictures become younger and prettier!

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Guy explained about the planning and sourcing of artifacts challenges he experienced on his journeys as part of his commission to redesign the hotel.

Also, loved the understated elegance of the black and white flooring leading to the ballroom.

Guy’s passion for the Turquoise Mountain Arts project shone through when he took us to see the large scale woodwork commission. He explained that the work was inspired by the interior of The Peacock House in Kabul’s old city. This building was one of the first to be restored in Turquoise Mountain’s urban regeneration project in the historic old city area of Murad Khane. It is also the only place outside of the UK where you can get a City & Guilds qualification!

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He seemlessly design the transitition of the old part of the hotel into the new part, with you feeling like you are walking into a light open space. We ended up in the Moon Garden with its Moon Tree (bonsai), and with its winding river to give the impression of the English landscape. It was created by gold medal award-winning designer and Chelsea landscape gardener Tom Stuart-Smith. It has the added advantage of being enjoyed at night as well as during the day with it cleverly thought out lighting, which reflects the simmering image of a full moon.

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Guy was a fount of knowledge and very patient with a few of us who were taking photos as we walked through various rooms and he explained about the furniture and paintings/ photographs, which made the tour extended in duration (me included).

Finally, we returned for champagne and canapes in one of the champagne rooms with the glass roof as if you were look up from the bottom of someones pool with a swimmer about to dive in!


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Overall, a wonderful experience with amazingly detailed information from Guy and also fabulous food and attentive service whilst in the champagne room.

Twitter: @TheConnaught @LondonArtFair #artwalks @Oliver_Laws @ClarenceHouse

Part of the Maybourne Hotel Group:

Turquoise Mountain Arts project (part of The Prince’s Charities):

Guy Oliver’s Interior Design company:


Please see our Facebook photo album for more pics from our tour.

About goantolondon

International food and travel blog by London based British Goan duo: Jason and Chiara Pinto. Twitter: @goantolondon @jasonpinto100 @chiarapinto About Goa: Goa is a small state on the western coast of India. Though the smallest Indian state, Goa has played an influential role in Indian history. Goa was one of the major trade centers in India, thus it had always been attracting the influential dynasties, seafarers, merchants, traders, monks and missionaries since its earliest known history. Throughout its history Goa has undergone continual transformation, leaving an indelible impression on various aspects of its cultural and socio-economic development. History of Goa: The East-West symbiosis of Goa makes it different from other parts of India, more than the historical and social niche. The history of Goa is a sweet and sour story of colonial heritage, oppressive rulers, a glorious culture, and uneventful immediate past. As a land with the identity of its own, Goa was brought into focus when it was liberated of Portugal from its oppressive rule of around 450 hundred years in 1961. Goa was captured and annexed to the Portuguese in 1510 following the urges of trade and demand of spices and also cottons and indigo. But, Goa has a history that starts much before Portugal even thought of Goa being where it is. Goa was coveted and ruled by a great number of Indian kingdoms and dynasties from the 4th century onwards. The first kingdom to rule Goa and Konkan were Bhojas, who were the feudatories of Ashoka in 4th and 5th centuries AD. The city of Chandrapur (present Chandor) was founded by Prince Chandraditya, son of Chalukya King Pulakesin from 566 to 597 A.D. after this, Goa was ruled consecutively by Silahara Dynasty, Kadamba Danasty, and finally Hoysalas from 1022 to 1342 A.D. From the 14th century onwards, Goa became a great trading center on the west coast, especially in the vast trade of horses imported from the Middle East. This was the time for bigger empires to move in and Vijayanagar Empire conquered it in 1344. But there empire was not going to last too long and in 1347, Bahmani Sultans defeated Vijayanagara forces in 1347 and controlled Goa. Afterwards, it was a time of great prosperity and peace for Gpa, especially during the rules of Yusuf Adil Shah and Ismail Adil Shah. They created beautiful houses, fortified Goa, and encouraged local craftsmen. Their liberal and progressive rule was not going to last too long and situation changed in 1510 A.D. Goa for all purposes was not on the Portuguese Radar even after a long time of their presence in India. When the Portuguese nobleman Alfonso de Albuquerque and his cousin Francisco de Albuquerque were sent with a powerful fleet in 1503 on the orders of King Dom Manuel I, the purpose was to defend the cargoes of spices, mostly pepper, against Arab Muslim raiders. The center of spice trade was Calicut at that time and Portuguese had built forts in Cochin and Cannanore. It was in 1506-08 that an opportunistic pirate, Timoja, persuaded Albuquerque to attack Goa and acquire a better land base. This made Goa, Portugal's first real territorial acquisition in Asia. After a brief period of recapturing by the Muslims, Goa Albuquerque finally captured Goa in 1510. The inquisition of Goa in 1540 reversed the previous liberal policy of Albuquerque and imposed strict censorship of literature and new laws to forbade non-Christians from professions. Forced conversions took place continuously, censorship was established on literature, the temples were destroyed, and non-Christian priests, holy men, and teachers were evicted. This led to continuous fleeing of Hindus from Goa to other parts of India. It is not that the relationship with Portugal brought only destruction for the Goans. Portuguese also built great churches like the church of St. Cajetan and Bom Jesus basilica in Old Goa, which is a pilgrimage site for the Christians from around the world. But it is also true that pre-1961; Goa was a highly impoverished region very backward and primitive. It is after the liberation that Goa of today has emerged and it has surprised even the locals many of whom had left their homeland before its liberation. Portugal and India are today friends and Goa continues to be a fascinating blend of Latin and Oriental. Information sourced from:
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