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 Piñon
Isn't she lovely?
A brief repose