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Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, Virginia Woolf, Cary Grant, Elizabeth Taylor, Winston Churchill, Muhammad Ali… that’s something of a who’s who from the worlds of politics, art and literature. And yet these are just a few of the celebrities who have stayed or whiled away the hours at London’s Café Royal since it opened in 1865; indeed, Oscar Wilde virtually lived there. Following four years of renovation work the Café Royal is now accommodating guests again. The team of architects around David Chipperfield has managed to strike a stylistic balance between 21st-century modernity and the magnificent ambience of historic spaces from the 1860s and 1920s.
Though the Café Royal certainly exudes plenty of grandeur, its 159 rooms, including six “historic” suites, are also marked by tranquillity and clean-lined styling. The building, a fusion of vintage British charm and up-to-the-minute fitments, is located on Regent Street in the heart of London, within view of Piccadilly Circus. Its lobby, halls and suites would seem to suggest some lavish palace rather than an establishment in the middle of a major city. The famous “Grill Room” has been brilliantly restored in the Louis Seize style. The “standard” hotel rooms, by contrast, are wholly in the spirit of urbane sobriety with classical detail in stone.
Chipperfield instils the rooms’ interiors with the minimalist chic of the streets of London by transferring the purist geometry of the pattern of facades on Regent Street onto their walls. The bathrooms are laid out in luxurious Carrara marble, whilst the premises also boast classy oak parquet flooring and doors in satin-nap brass. FSB was able - in the most literal sense - to make a valuable contribution to the Café Royal with its 1004 lever handle model, fittingly designed by David Chipper¬field. The clean-lined formal vocabulary of this classically modern handle ably blends in with the mix of historical luxury and modern sobriety informing its architectural surroundings.