When so many hotels are embracing the pared-back, streamlined look synonymous with contemporary interpretations of luxury, it is a complete joy to find a hotel interior that unashamedly lives by the maxim that more is more. On London’s illustrious Seymour Street, in a Georgian townhouse that was once the home to the poet and illustrator Edward Lear, the Zetter Townhouse Marylebone sits behind an innocuous pale grey painted door flanked by a pair of lavender-flowering pots. There is no loud signage, or vibrant awning announcing its presence, the riot of colour and personality are saved for its interiors.
Owned by partners Michael Benyan and Mark Sainsbury, the Zetter Townhouse concept was created to offer something a little different to the London hotel scene. Every inch of the 24-bedroom hotel is based on the fictional home of an eccentric relative, Wicked Uncle Seymour. The story, that has been interpreted by interior designer Russell Sage and graphics guru Fabian Monheim, is that Uncle Seymour has spent his life collecting art, artefacts and knick knacks from his European Grand Tour, and every piece has found a home in his London abode. Inspired by the nearby museum home of famous Regency collector and showman Sir John Soane, every item, whether it be an austere family portrait, a silver candlestick or an elaborate door knocker illuminated by parrot wall-lights, is in keeping with the eccentric and eclectic personality of party-host Uncle Seymour. The ground floor Seymour’s Parlour is resplendent in a claret red paint that is enlivened with plaster moulds, sepia photographs and weathered artwork. Genuine antique furniture, bought at auctions and through antique traders, gives the room a feeling of authenticity.
The historic property features 21 bedrooms, two studio suites and a spectacular rooftop apartment complete with terrace and outside claw-foot copper slipper bath. In keeping with the quintessentially British design remit, heavy period fabrics by Gainsborough Silk Weavers adorn the windows, and Witney Horse Blankets are used for the throws on the beds. While most of the flooring throughout the hotel is restored oak timber, bespoke carpets designed and made in the UK by Ulster provide pattern and warmth underfoot. Wallpapers by Fromental are paired with unusual coverings, such as old maps, sheet music and vintage magazine pages. ‘Materials that aren’t actually wallpapers bring a lovely charm to a space,’ designer Russell Sage says.
Always keeping the discerning clientele in mind, details such as Raindance showers, 200-thread count bedlinen, Hypnos beds, Roberts radios and Lefroy Brooks bathroom fittings raise this hotel into the realm of the luxurious, and small thoughtful touches like hand-knitted water bottles placed on each bed in winter elevate this hotel into something pretty special indeed.