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Design tour of a London hotel for bookworms.
The Bloomsbury Street Hotel kicks off with the literary theme appropriate to its Bloomsbury location and really runs with this throughout its design.
As you approach reception, you’ll see the whole wall papered with the manuscript of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway – an amazing art installation that gleams with iridescence. I don’t suppose you’d want to try reading the story this way, but just catching sight of a few words while you wait can be thought-provoking!
Elsewhere, the tone is not just literary but also playful. There are the little creatures that seem to turn up in so many of the parent group’s 4 star hotels in London – black goldfish with streamer-like tails, little wooden doves and tortoises (more on them later).
Then there are the stunning chandeliers, another Radisson Blu Edwardian speciality which I love – but complemented by delicate tiny flower-shaped glass lamps, and by a lovely wall light of candles set on a maze of gilded leaves that catch the light and reflect it a thousand different ways.
Some of the décor I can’t quite work out. There are some huge red and black pepper grinders in the restaurant – or are they? Maybe they’re vases. Anyway, they are rather thought-provoking and were first spotted when my colleagues were testing the hotel’s free WiFi.
More to my taste are the tall cylindrical glass jars full of golden glittery baubles – they’re stylish and luxurious but also seem to convey a sense of fun and childish happiness, to me at any rate.
You might admire the public parts of a hotel but you wouldn’t necessarily want your room to be just the same. The Bloomsbury Street Hotel rooms pick up the rich and warm colours of the rest of the hotel, but they feel comfortable and intimate at the same time.
Perhaps it’s the use of crushed velvet highlight – the bedspreads, cushions, a sofa in one of the suites – that works best; the rooms are plush, but not chintzy or overdone. Black and white photography of street scenes sets off the luxury neatly and stops it becoming slushy.
In some other hotels I wonder about eclectic mixes of furnishings – some Chinese, some Indian perhaps, a little French rococo and a bit of English country house, together with some modern works all mixed in like a motza pudding. It can miss a certain authenticity and runs the risk of becoming incoherent - a big car boot sale of interior design bits and pieces.
But Radisson Blu Edwardian has two great things holding it together. One is the colour scheme, with lots of purple, pink, aubergine, fuchsia and little accents of gold, along with some marvellous velvety textures. There are repeated motifs too, like the Klimt-style flowers on the pillows and spirals on the carpet in the Folio Room (one of the most high-tech central London meeting rooms). The other “glue” is a sense of wit and you sense that even the designer’s eyebrow is raised archly at some of the combinations.
For instance there are some little pottery turtles, in shiny brown glaze, marching across a side table. Their little heads are poked up in curiosity or surprise, lively and engaging. And no wonder they’re surprised, for above them is a massive picture of a mouth – smiling pink lips, a tongue just cheekily poking out between white teeth.
Another lovely juxtaposition takes a Klimt style painting, all gold background and languourously sexy women, and puts it next to a little Chinese terracotta warrior who raises his fist angrily. However cross he gets though, he’s going to be stuck there watching those elegant women for all eternity – or at least until the hotel needs redecorating! There’s a whole little drama going on there that I find decidedly amusing.
All in all, a delightful hotel with the same wit and contemporary feel as others in the group like the Mercer Street luxury hotel in Covent Garden and the Radisson Blu Edwardian Heathrow, but with perhaps a touch more sobriety and warmth – very Bloomsbury. And if you want to see more images from the same hotel, do check out our Flickr photo set.
Photo credits: Radisson Blu Edwardian Bloomsbury Street Hotel Facebook page, London Hotels Insight blogger Timea.