Updated: Oct 19, 2020
This hidden Art Deco wonder from the Jazz age was built in 1920’s. If you ever wanted to step into a B&W Hollywood movie from the period between the wars, this is the place to visit. Hidden behind a pair of double glass and revolving doors at the Hyde Park end of Piccadilly, the grand “Silver Gallery “ entrance to the underground ballroom of this famous hotel is a treasure.
The architects Higgs and Hill were famous for many innovative buildings of the modern movement and here even the ballroom floor was conceived by a scientific process. The glamorous hotel became one the most popular in London within a year of opening in 1927 and was famous for attracting the“Jeunesse Doree" of the age. On entering you will see the gallery walls are covered with Italian silver leaf, with handpainted Art Moderne murals either side of chrome double balustrades, lit from within . These top the double stairwell to the mezzanine level above the sunken ballroom .After taking over the hotel in 1997, the Starwood Hotel Group fully restored the interiors with the special help from English Heritage, as it has Grade 2 listed status . and required experts in modern decorative arts to consult on all furnishings.
For me, the foyer entrance seems set for an Astaire and Rogers dance sequence from the film “Top Hat”, and the lower level ballroom and mezzanine repainted in silver grey and lavender ,give you the sense you are aboard the liner Normandie crossing the Atlantic , whilst dancing away to Geraldo and his orchestra.
The interiors have always inspired me and I have been lucky to shoot a few fashion campaigns there,as shown above in my other life photographer. It’s also a favourite of film directors looking for the authentic Art Deco interior. It was seen on most recently in Agatha Christie's “The Mystery of the Blue Train “on television .
In recent times it could be hard to get access, as the street doors were often locked, though previous to this one, just had to walk in with purpose, as if one was staying there without being stopped.Now perhaps an enquiry to the concierge about hiring for large party in the ballroom will suffice in these trying times!
Though do remember to get a “Marcel Wave” in your hair, dig out your best beaded "Flapper" dress and bring your silver dancing shoes!