Life at Château de Gudanes is often a whirlwind. Work progresses at a hundred miles an hour as the restoration continues. And, in between laying tiles and in-floor heating I have been in the throws of writing the Château Book.
Not being a French resident I need to renew my visa every three months, and London is a convenient and quick way with both Toulouse and Carcassonne airports nearby. Not that I would need much of an excuse to travel to one of the most popular cities in the world. A city that perhaps captures like no other the essence of the past, the present and the future all in one place. Walking up and down the bustling streets is a joy in itself. I love looking at classic architecture dating back to bygone times standing right next to those which appear as if from the future. Buildings inspired by the concrete legacy of Le Corbusier sit but a stone throw away from a typical London townhouse, traditional craftsman work sit just a few paces from modern pioneers who are now making history. Music of all the ages booms loud from behind closed doors. In London, the past remains respected, but the future is actively sought out.
London is an essential city for a designer. No matter what your area of design may be, there’s always creative inspiration to be found in a fascinating myriad of styles, where high end rubs shoulders with high street, modern meets iconic, and cutting edge collides with classical. Here’s my London style guide:
A hotel with history
I stayed at The Savoy – one of London’s iconic hotels, where new meets old. The hotel was built in the late 19th Century, but has recently been beautifully restored. It’s all about the details. I knew very little about the Savoy except that the narrow roundabout at the front of the building has remained unchanged through the many restorations that haven taken place over the years – having been designed specifically to fit the turning circle of the original, legendary London black cab.
The interior is eclectic, with mixed arrangements of hot pink flowers sitting atop baroque inspired glossy black tables, adorning the lobby and acting as the perfect contrast against checkered black and white tiles and the rich mahogany coloured timber panelling that encases the room. Overhead, ornate designs are painted in gold above each doorway and marble pillar. Lavish furnishings await guests to soak up in their comfort.
The retro, old-Hollywood vibe is unsurprising, as some of the hotel’s most esteemed guests have included Frank Sinatra, Lena Horne, John Wayne, Joan Crawford, Judy Garland, Marilyn Monroe, Humphrey Bogart and Elizabeth Taylor. The true crowning glory is the breakfast room (also the location of the famed Savoy Afternoon Tea) where a delicate, white framed conservatory is perfectly placed below an exquisite, domed stained-glass ceiling. At the Savoy, design has triumphed to seamlessly blend history and history in the making.