At Rough Luxe you must set aside all thoughts of hotels with conventional air-conditioned constancy, marbled flooring, polished finishes and bland colors. Rough Luxe is the complete antithesis to all of that. Just a step away from King’s Cross station and tucked away down a quiet side street is a very surprising new hotel. It’s called Rough Luxe and the look and feel of this Georgian terraced house is the creation of designer and gallery curator Rabih Hage.
On entering the Rough Luxe hotel you might be forgiven for thinking that the builders haven’t quite finished their work. But what you see is what you get. This is the style of the place – a fascinating blend of urban archaeology, partially sanded surfaces, bare floorboards, chipped paint and rough edges mingled with gloriously opulent contemporary wallpaper and modern art plus top quality furnishings. Early on in the refurbishment, layers of wallpaper were peeled away to reveal decoration ideas from centuries ago. Rabih’s instinct was to keep this intriguing ‘archaeology’ of interior design rather than cover it up. The texture of years of occupation is tangible in every room of this narrow town house. The rough texture of the walls now celebrates the papering, painting, priming and patching over the years. In each room the ‘deconstructed’ walls contrast with chic contemporary paper or huge murals created from photographs of interiors by Massimo Listri, creating an illusion of space and opulence. There are nine rooms. Most have en suite bathrooms, some share and all small, intimate and comfortable. Original light fittings and door fixtures beguile with their period charm and obvious wear and tear. However, the ‘luxe’ element of the hotel can be seen and felt in the top quality beds and mattresses as well as the fine linen and characterful furniture within the rooms. ‘I was an “extreme customer” at the recent auction at the Savoy Hotel,’ says Rabih, grinning at the memory of bids for quantities of crockery, cutlery, fittings and furniture.
The original 1960s utilitarian kitchen in the basement is staying put – with a few contemporary additions. Breakfast food, provided by Ottolenghi, is served in the dining room next door where guests sit around a table made from wood salvaged from Brighton Pier, beneath an imposing ceiling photo of a Renaissance dome. As an entertainment and amusing ‘stress buster’, Rabih Hage has installed an ‘Anger release machine’ by Yarisal and Kublitz in a tucked away alcove. In the summer a small outside café space has been created for guests to enjoy this perfect London backwater away from the hustle and bustle of city life. There will be a library of diverse and interesting books for the guests to read.
The hotel is the ultimate statement in urban archaeology, where old and new can collide and blend. It’s also a lifestyle club – a way of thinking which people can buy into and feel at ease with. And for kindred spirits in search of a novel experience in London, the Rough Luxe Hotel in Kings Cross, positioned by the entrance to The Mews Gallery (By Rabih Hage) will offer a comfortable and comforting hub from which guests can explore cultural London. Rough Luxe may well turn out to be the perfect spot for discerning travellers in search of ‘anti-luxury’ (as we know it today) and great character.
The Rough Luxe Hotel London
1 Birkenhead street, London, WC1H 8BA.
Tel : 02078375338
Rabih Hage Gallery, 69-71 Sloane Avenue, London, SW3 3DH
Tel: 020 7823 8288