In this summer of botanical wallcoverings and all things tropical, lush and green, one jungle-inspired interior design project in Mayfair is king of the swingers.
The sumptuous Kipling Suite at Browns Hotel in Mayfair is where favoured guest Rudyard Kipling stayed and penned, they claim, much of The Jungle Book. And if the best hotel interiors are the barometer of taste, this is a peach.
I meet the director of design of Rocco Forte Hotels, Olga Polizzi, in the somewhat cramped lobby of Browns, squeezed between the bar and Hix Mayfair. “Browns is different from a lot of the other grand hotels – it doesn’t have a grand entrance, so it’s more human,” she says. “And it’s very English.” It’s this sense of Englishness, that we settle into the Kipling Suite’s sofa to talk about – this sense of place, along with her design style.
These are elements that Polizzi has aimed to convey in the remodelling, with verdant wallpapers and wool fabrics by Lewis & Wood, furniture by the Battersea joiner Julian Chichester, a cheeky monkey and an elephant statuette as “jungle” ornaments and a framed hand-written letter by Kipling sent from him during a stay at the hotel.
“I’ve also bought bits from fairs and antique shops,” she says. “I like mixing very contemporary with some nice old pieces, it softens everything.” And it all hangs together in a warm and comforting style.
Polizzi is sister to hotelier Rocco Forte and mother to Channel 5’s Hotel Inspector Alex Polizzi. I credit her, having stayed at her Hotel Tresanton in Cornwall almost a decade ago now, with starting the uber-trend of homely dead-matt-painted tongue-and-grove interiors.
One of the benefits of a long career, and being director of design across a portfolio of world-class hotels, including a few of your own, is that you not only get a sense of what works where and why, but also have a certain lamp or sculpture in reserve that would be perfect for your current project – everything in the Kipling suite has been hand-picked.
“I’ve worked like this from the beginning, because I love buying,” Polizzi explains. “I love going to fairs, and I’m always abroad looking at antique shops. I always go to Battersea (Decorative Antiques and Textiles Fair), you can get cheap things as well as expensive ones, there’s always something to pick up. Most designers sit in their offices and everything comes from catalogues or they draw a chair themselves, but it's very rare for them to wander round. They don’t take cash out and buy something in the same way we do.”
Polizzi’s guests undoubtedly be looking for comfort and elegance in the heart of Mayfair, but also a sense of history. If they happen to be fans of the writer, it’s worth noting that the cost per night – £6,210 – is more than the price of a Jungle Book first-edition. But, then, they might already have one of those.
To book the Kipling Suite at Browns Hotel, visit roccofortehotels.com
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