Close your eyes and repeat this phrase. I will leave London and travel the world without getting on a plane. Now, open your eyes and if you find yourself in front of the unassuming dark façade of the Blakes Hotel, you’ve come to the right destination. Burgeoning onto the scene in 1978, Blakes was the first official boutique hotel in the world, when couture furnishings and personalized details were clearly not the norm. Hiring master designer Anouska Hempel to bring character and charisma to the hotel allowed Blakes to pave the way for boutique hospitality. After a recent refurbishment, the hotel evokes an East meets West sentiment, narrating Hempel’s journeys through locales such as Turkey, China, Indonesia, Italy, India and Russia. The voyage begins in the exotically designed reception leading you through an urban retreat comprising of 47 spectacularly chic rooms, a small intimate bar, a charming private terrace and an eclectic, critically acclaimed restaurant. This is not just a hotel, that depiction alone diminishes the extravagance, stunning composition and stylish theatricality of Blakes. It is an experience, an oasis, an escape.
The furniture, linens, artifacts, accessories and color schemes illustrate Ms. Hempel’s eccentric global perspective. The ethnic art and thoughtful arrangement of the individually themed suites personifies tiny anecdotes of her experiences, encouraging guests to indulge in the imaginative wonder of travel. The dramatic setting of the Library Room epitomizes British heritage, while the Cardinal Room embodies a rich brick red and luminous gold sanctuary of Italian luxury. Although you can not see in the far off distance a white sand beach with waves crashing onto the shore, a stay in the ethereal Corfu suite will ensure your imagination takes you there.
With loyal clientele such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Mickey Rourke and some of London’s most elite socialites, Blakes offers isolation from the paparazzi and a departure from the ordinary. The ingenuity of design, attention to detail and devotion to the guests’ experience catapulted Blakes’ status among the A-list and its reign as the “Couture” hotel in London has never faltered.
Escaping the hustle and bustle of the London city life often requires research, preparation, plane tickets, car services and train journeys, contrasting the allure and essence of the term holiday. With Blakes there is no complicated mode of transportation or elaborate scheme to get away, just a simple skeleton key – the passport opening to the door to your next voyage.
The Blakes Hotel
33 Roland Gardens
Holly Boyle is a freelance writer based in London. She has been a contributing writer for Runway Magazine and Voda Magazine.