Curating luxury for the discerning traveller



In May last year, director Baz Luhrmann dazzled cinema audiences with his opulent interpretation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby. To Luhrmann, capturing the unbridled hedonism of the ‘roaring Twenties’ meant embracing the opulence of the era at every level of production, from draping his cast in authentic clothing from the Prada fashion archives to splashing out $105 million on lavish sets that required months of construction.

The extravagant project paralleled the glittering excess of the prosperous interwar period depicted in the film, and reignited public interest in the tastes of the era and the striking Art Deco design that characterised it. Television, too, has played its part in a growing interest in the movement, with antique jewellery expert John Joseph putting a growing demand for engagement rings of the era down to “the popularity of Downtown Abbey”. Add to this the fact that Eltham Palace, the former childhood home of Henry VIII and renovated in Art Deco style in 1933, draws an average 60,000 visitors a year, and it seems that this much-loved aesthetic is as popular today as ever.

Mar 6th 2014

While Art Deco may have originated in France, first seen at L'Exposition Internationale des Art Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris in 1925, it soon spread across Europe and, as a result, London is stuffed full of Art Deco gems. Celebrating its 125th anniversary this year, The Savoy hotel is one of the most famous examples in the city. Architect Basil Ionides masterminded the hotel’s Art Deco makeover in 1926, adding the famous Strand courtyard made from stainless steel, a material that had been invented just a few years before. Other touches can also be found throughout the hotel, notably a Lalique crystal fountain at the court entrance. For the full experience, however, head to the Beaufort Bar - it boasts £38,000 worth of gold leaf lining its walls.

Elsewhere in the capital, there are plenty of other glamorous hangouts where you can share a drink with your favourite flapper. The Fumoir at Claridges epitomises the alluring excess of the period. Cocktails such as juleps and sours created from original recipes are served in authentic Lalique glasses, while a priceless panel presented to the hotel by René Lalique himself in 1931 sits proudly above the door. Gorgeous illuminated Lalique panels are also the order of the day at The Rivoli Bar at The Ritz London, which was reborn in Art Deco style following its renaming from The Ritz Bar in 2001. The bartenders here know their stuff and you’ll enjoy seeing them whip up any number of vintage cocktails.


The Belmond British Pullman train meanwhile offers luxury day trips from London Victoria, hosted in the opulent Art Deco glamour of its vintage carriages. The interior has been lovingly restored to its former glory, boasting rare timber veneers and custom-loomed fabrics as beautiful today as they were almost a century ago. Hop on board for its Golden Age of Travel experience and you can feast on a five-course lunch with Champagne while the British countryside rolls past your window. Don’t forget to dust off your best 1920s fashion either, as diners are encouraged to dress up.


However, if you can’t bear to leave the city, head to Brasserie Zédel on Sherwood Street for an evening of fine dining and authentic Art Deco extravagance. Designed by renowned architect Oliver Percy Bernard, the interior has been described by Architecture Today magazine as “probably the best and most authentic series of 1930s interiors in this country”. Meticulously restored in 2004, the breathtaking interior will transport you back to the heart of the Jazz Age. As antiques dealer Jeroen Markies sums up, in Art Deco, “clean lines, attention to detail and the beauty of and respect for the materials used all add up to making timeless works of art”. It’s hardly any wonder then that our love affair with the glamour and opulence of the age is far from waning.



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