8.22.2011

A Night At The Rough Luxe Hotel

While the events of last week's trip to London are still fresh in my memory, I thought I'd take a moment to share one of the standout experiences I hauled home (and did not, I might add, declare on my customs form). My gracious hostess, traveling companion, and new friend Jen (of the blog Style Crusader) happened to be staying in London with her husband Fred at a hotel called Rough Luxe. Situated a stone's throw from the stately (and centrally convenient) St. Pancras Station, the hotel masterfully combines the contradicting ideals of roughness and luxury in one not-too-big, not-too-small space. Occupying a building whose age is imprinted in the texture of the walls and worn into its sinewy wooden staircase, Rough Luxe is a testament to the beauty of London's own conflicting culture of New versus Old. With thoroughly modern amenities deftly buoying its historic patina, the hotel provides a welcome sense of rootedness while still keeping an eye on the ever-shifting cultural current its guests are no doubt emerged in. 

But let's cut to the chase: You could infer all that from the introductory paragraph on Rough Luxe's website. The experience I had staying there is the real reason for this post. Because while it might parade around as a hotel, Rough Luxe is really more of a B&B. With only eight rooms in the building, guests are known and greeted by name--a luxury usually reserved for elite guests at larger hotels whose credit card invoices precede them. At Rough Luxe, you will be treated not as a hotel guest but as a friend. When I met hotel manager Leo Rabelo, we immediately launched into a lively conversation about social media, Twitter,* and (naturally enough) the London Riots. I returned to the hotel the next day on the promise that I'd get to sample some of Leo's homemade baba ghanoush. Though Jen and Fred were the key-carrying guests of the hotel, I was treated like a friend and personal guest of Leo's, immediately included in the wining, dining, and conversation that followed. 

In a culture that tends to prize exclusivity over inclusivity, competition over vulnerability, and adhering to a strict social who's-who code of conduct, it was an absolute pleasure to spend a few hours in the Rough Luxe courtyard with fellow travelers whose backgrounds were as diverse as our respective countries of origin. We shared wine, food, and discourse--and at the end of it all, greeted the dawn not as strangers passing through London, but as friends. There's no culture quite so ephemeral or transient as Hotel Culture, but Rough Luxe has emerged as a rare antithesis. Here, you will be greeted warmly, welcomed unquestioningly, and cared for graciously. The fact that the rooms are gorgeous is just the icing on the cake. 

*And speaking of Twitter, at Jen's and my suggestion, Leo acquiesced to a Twitter account for the hotel. So head on over and follow Rough Luxe!

Do I seem thrilled? Because believe it: I was thrilled. Ecstatic, even


A view from the stairwell into the courtyard

Hotel manager Leo: delightful host, masterful concierge, erudite linguist, first-rate cook and all-around Renaissance Man


A prophetic inscription on the wall near my bed

Don't let the roll of TP fool you; this bathroom was top-notch

Clever touches abound. In this case, Gorey's sinister wit resides on the desk

Gilded and luxurious: Chinois at its finest


Leo relaxes in the Hotel's lobby

A view from the top

Couldn't resist another excuse to promote on of my favorite artists: Javier PiƱon

Isn't she lovely?

A brief repose

2 comments:

the style crusader said...

This is crazy beautiful Laurel. You've captured the experience of staying at Rough Luxe so well. So thankful I had you as my traveling companion. xx

Leo Rabelo, Rough Luxe. said...

Dearest Laurel,
With much delay, but still full of joy and pride, I place a comment on your site; but I will use the words of the Poet to explain myself: "Heart of London, there is a moral in thy every stroke! As I look on at thy indomitable working, which neither death, nor press of life, nor grief, nor gladness out of doors will influence one jot, I seem to hear a voice within thee which sinks into my heart, bidding me, as I elbow my way among the crowd, have some thought for the meanest wretch that passes, and, being a man, to turn away with scorn and pride from none that bear the human shape." (Dickens, The Heart of London). This passage explains pretty much why it is that this house, this little home we built here in King's Cross, in the heart of London, is always open to everyone. Some will come and spend the night, they will just rest and leave the morning after, leaving little behind; others will stay, they will live within our walls and fill the air with their voices, their breaths, their shadows and their laughters; and, when their time to pay and go arrives, they will hand in the keys but take away a chunk of our heart. That is how it works here and I'm glad you know that. We are waiting to welcome you back.

 
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