Grills just want to have fun

11 June 2015

1:00 PM

11 June 2015

1:00 PM

The Beaumont Hotel is a bright white cake in the silent part of Mayfair, where the only sound is Patek Philippe watches, tick-tocking. We are in the eye of the storm, where it should be quiet; of the cacophony of Selfridges, just to the north, we hear nothing. It is the first hotel from Chris Corbin and Jeremy King, creators of the Delaunay, the Wolseley, Brasserie Zédel and Fischer’s. The façade is so languid, pristine and self-satisfied that it could — no, should — be Swiss, even if it was once an Avis garage wrought in Art Deco. It reminds me of the Beau-Rivage Palace on Lake Geneva, a hotel which likes itself so much it built another just the same, and will spend eternity admiring itself in both its double and the lake.

The Beaumont, however, is made singular by a large exterior structure, which looks slightly like a Transformer robot lynched by an interior designer specialising in ruining Cotswold farmhouses (it is carpet grey) and stuck on the front of a hotel, where it squats stupidly: a Transformer on the loo. Is this new attempt to excite the super-rich called ‘Curating the Ennui’? It is ‘ROOM’ (capitalised), a self-portrait and ‘inhabitable sculpture commissioned from the Turner Prize-winning British artist Antony Gormley’, which allowed him to ‘sculpt darkness’, which is surely like sculpting ‘sulks’. What can I say, beyond wondering if ‘ROOM’ was once only ‘Room’, and why was that not good enough?

So the Beaumont reminds me of a Swiss hotel, or a Swiss bank, or the sort of place that appears in Jeffrey Archer or John Grisham novels, or tax havens more generally. It makes me think of spies and tiny wizened adulterers writing cheques to women’s breasts. It is cool and synthetic and amazingly polished; I wonder if it has a separate ecosystem with scented oxygen pumped in from — perhaps? — Selfridges? I am slightly obsessed with Selfridges. I watched two seasons of its hagiographic mini-series Mr Selfridge, until I wondered why they never stopped talking about Selfridges and switched it off. The floor is black and white; the furniture is cream, like plush and yielding shells; the paintings are salvaged from the 1930s. And inside this lovely pond, like anxiety and consolation dining together, is an excellent new restaurant called the Colony Grill Room.

All Corbin and King restaurants are beautiful; they have the gift of inciting ease. I have reviewed four of them (the only bad one is Colbert, but I put that down to its being in Chelsea) and I long to know what the owners were like as small children. Did they mix cocktails for their infant friends? Did they plump cushions? Were they happy? I pass the American Bar, an exquisite recreation of how America, the most delusional of empires, once viewed itself — that is, the Jazz Age without the casualties — and here is a large salon, in reds and browns, with big booths and tiny table lamps and monumental, sporting-themed art. Horses rear across the walls; women dive (don’t they always?); skiers ski, more pointlessly than usual.

7842-colony-veal-pojarski-1-2mbVeal Pojarski

The menu is a hybrid: it offers what the less mad of the very rich might want to eat between 7 a.m. and midnight. (The mad want faerie food from Dabbous and semi-mythical Japanese fish that say ‘Love your rhinoplasty!’) There are omelettes, salads, oysters, meatballs, caviar, hot dogs, fish and steaks; for pudding, you tick boxes on a make-your-own-sundae pad or suck banana split. Chicken pot pie, Dover sole and sea bass is all excellent; and, more importantly, none of it is weird. The Colony Grill Room is a fantasy, of course, but so finely wrought that it can only be effective. My only compliant is a foolish one: inside such perfection, I think I may be dead.

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