The Queen-Anne style Cadogan Hotel opened in Sloane Street in 1887, to designs of H B Brace, subsequently expanding into the buildings at the rear. The best rooms overlook Cadogan Place Gardens, which guests are allowed to use, and it was in one of these rooms that in 1895 the writer and poet Oscar Wilde, a frequent quest at the hotel, as was the actress Lily Langtree, was arrested for ‘gross indecency’.
The hotel thus has a strong link with the artistic and literary life of Chelsea which is today celebrated in its refurbishment as the Belmond Cadogan. Oscar Wilde’s rooms are now included in the Royal Suite, with views out across the gardens.
While the hotel has been brought up-to-date with new contemporary décor throughout, it feels as welcoming as it always did, with the panelled walls to the ground floor, its fireplaces and the timber staircases. Blair Associates Architecture, along with GA Group and Russell Sage Studios, have done a great job in blending old and new, including a bronze library of 600 books in the ground floor lift lobby, one of my favourite new features. Why are lift lobbies generally so boring? The literary connections continue in partnership with local bookseller John Sandoe Books, with selections of books for guests to read in the reception and all of the bedrooms, and if guests are taken with a particular book, purchase of a new copy can of course be arranged for them to take home. You can imagine this literary partnership developing with literary readings and other events in either the hotel or the bookshop.
One of Belmond’s keynotes is the inclusion of contemporary art throughout the hotel with over 430 works of art by 34 artists, 29 of whom are British, and many of which were commissioned specially for the hotel linking to the theme of its location in London and, more specifically, to the gardens outside and to the botanist Sir Hans Soane. This starts the moment you arrive with Simon Casson’s painting above the Reception Desk which provides an overview of the history of the Cadogan Estate and the Hotel and several of the key people connected with them. Thus, rather than just buy art, Belmond have sensitively created an art collection which has a unique connection with the Hotel itself and enhances the visitor’s experience of staying in a hotel in London and in Chelsea.
Thanks go to the hotel for organising guided tours during London Craft Week.