It’s not often you have some of Britain’s former Prime Ministers eating with royalty. It happens all the time at Charlie’s in Brown’s Hotel. London The real-life PMs, of whom there are admittedly a handful, network here over new-style English dishes. Around are prominent people portraits, including the King, and a Mona Lisa-like enigmatic black and white photo of his late mother. The cornice, all around, is clad in remarkable Rousseau-like wallpaper, not unlike the signature wall coverings at The Beverly Hills Hotel.
The 115-room Mayfair Hotel, an amalgam of two 1837 hotels (one started by Byron’s valet James Brown), is Sir Rocco Forte’s English outpost. He uses it as his local. Good for networking. Typically, suite 301, overlooking Dover Street, has warm furnishings and real logs in two 19th-century fireplaces. A lifesize wood sculpture of a hat has a leather strap. An admirable collection of new hardbacks ranges from Breitling’s #Squad on a Mission to Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother by William Shawcross, Sir Rocco’s brother-in-law (his wife, Olga Polizzi, is the hotel group’s designer).
Wall Of Fame
Brown’s is the family home you long for in another life. A Forte daughter, Irene, handles the spa and produces all the bathroom toiletries. Unknown to many, there’s a large likeness of her mother, Lady Forte, among the dozens, if not hundreds, of black-and-white photos in Donovan Bar. Hotel GM Richard Cooke, unusually, here momentarily holds court at what’s a regular meeting place – though not for politicians. The walls are a visual eulogy to the late Terence Donovan, chronicler of the Swinging 60s. Only a few metres from a bottle of Napoleon brandy labelled 1796, Twiggy dominates one wall.
In India, The Imperial New Delhi goes even further back in nostalgia. Suite 268 pays photographic homage to 1903. The 1901 succession of Edward VII, Emperor of India, was celebrated in January 1903 with a two-week Grand Durbar, a mass gathering, at Delhi’s Coronation Park. The beturbaned HH Thakur Saheb of Limbdi wears what looks like every single crown jewel. The Viceroy, Lord Curzon, and his also-bewelled lady arrived by elephant.
And there are memorable photos, too, in that icon of wallpapers, the 1912-vintage Beverly Hills Hotel. Its Nineteen 12 bar goes for pop-ups. Past shows have featured 54 black and white photos by Andy Warhol. Currently, through 15th February, it’s the turn of German-Korean aerial photographer Jin-Woo Prensena. He gets some of his best colour shots, says of Hollywood’s signature sign, by being strapped to the outside of a helicopter.