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