When I was in London in August, we switched it up and stayed at the Knightsbridge Hotel, part of Tim and Kit Kemp's Firmdale Group (they own the Covent Garden Hotel and the newly opened Crosby Street Hotel in New York, among others). It's a stunner of a place, small, discreet and tucked into a leafy court just steps away from Harrod's. Designed by Kit Kemp in her signature English eccentric style, it was filled with so many inspiring details that the memory capacity of my Nikon SLR was sorely tested.
One detail that especially struck me was this lovely use of grosgrain ribbon to border the turquoise wallpaper in the hallways.
(Ribbon detail, Knightsbridge Hotel)
It's a great example of how a small detail can add textural finish to a pattern in the same way that contrast piping adds sharpness to a cushion.
Editor's Note: I had no idea this little detail had a name until I read a post on the impossibly erudite An Aesthete's Lament about Deborah Mitford's vicarage at Chatsworth. Aesthete writes:
"The fillet... in case you didn't know, is a narrow strip of fabric, metal, or gilded wood that outlines a room and its architectural features. It is especially useful when one wishes to provide detail without actual bulk, particularly when a room is, well, deficient in architectural charm.
One could also use grosgrain ribbon to similar effect."
Thank you, Aesthete, for bringing my discovery full circle.
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Now back to The Knightsbridge. Seriously, it was so lovely that I wished we could just lounge there all day. The main sitting room off the lobby was decorated with the kind of soulful eclecticism that makes everyone sitting in it seem completely fascinating. I felt as though if I were to ask someone, "When do you next go to Cairo?" or "How is your novel coming along?" or "Is it true that your fall collection was inspired by traditional Hungarian costumes?" that I would definitely get answers.
Beyond the sitting room is an intimate library and it's here that we sat every morning and had a cup of coffee before venturing outside. I am completely in love with the color palette in this room. The muted greens, blues, reds and pinks harmonize wonderfully with each other and it somehow feels moody and cheerful at the same time.
Here's a close up of the fireplace fender upholstered in the same fabric as the club chairs. I love fireplace fenders and think somebody needs to start manufacturing them in the US for a reasonable price (not $4,000 which is how much all the UK ones I like seem to cost. Hello, anyone?) They can be classic or modern, can be upholstered in anything, take up no room and make great extra seating in a pinch.
And look over here. The library ladder is neon. It's these kind of tongue-in-cheek design touches that I love so much because they remind me that great style should be personal, witty and not overly serious.
While I was rhapsodizing over the decor, it was the Honesty Bar that my son absolutely could not get over. When I informed him that beyond it lay a room filled with snacks and drinks for guests of the hotel to enjoy, his eyes grew as big as saucers. "But wh-wh-why would they let us do that?" he stuttered. "Because the staff TRUSTS that you are going be HONEST and WRITE IT DOWN so they can CHARGE YOU LATER," I said.
Luca: Can I go in?
Me: All right.
After much deliberation, he selected an Orangina and a chocolate bar and wrote it carefully down in the hotel ledger in big capital letters. When he emerged, his bearing was more confident and he had a maturity about him that seemed born from newfound responsibility. Who would have thought that a room filled with bottled sodas would turn out to be a watershed moment for an eight-year-old?
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I wish I had taken better photos of the room, but I didn't think about it until it was filled with all our things. It overlooked the little tree-lined court and had a fireplace and lovely ceiling-height windows. But what really blew me away were the closets and bathroom -- large, light and beautifully designed with every possible desire anticipated. As a thoughtful touch, there were two full-length lighted mirrors inside the closet doors so I could get a 360 degree view of exactly where all those scones I'd eaten had ended up. (Sadly, I kid only slightly.)