Suite Dreams

By Nick Ross
Brown's Hotel Paul Smith Interiors

That Brown’s is the oldest luxury hotel in London is a compelling reason to visit. Yet even more so is the variety of brilliant minds that have been drawn to it over the course of its long history, which began in 1837.

These range from some of the most fondly remembered US presidents to inventors like Alexander Graham Bell, who is believed to have made Britain’s first ever telephone call from the premises. But perhaps most impressive of all is the fact so many literary greats have not only enjoyed but been inspired by their stays.

Rudyard Kipling finished The Jungle Book on the site. Agatha Christie’s novel At Bertram's Hotel is probably owed in part to her frequent sojourns here. And Stephen King began penning Misery while sitting at Kipling’s old desk in the Dover Suite.

The hotel began as a few Dover Street townhouses and therefore consisted of distinctly designed sections – one potential explanation for why it has always proven so inspiring. This is certainly the case today. After Rocco Forte Hotels bought it in 2003, British hotelier Olga Polizzi redesigned its 115 rooms and suites, ensuring each had a unique décor, many paying homage to those esteemed guests involved in its storied heritage.

The most recent to join the ranks of Brown’s creatives is Sir Paul Smith, of whom Polizzi is a fan. She has often been to see the latest antique furniture and art on display at his Albemarle Street flagship, whose iron façade attracts students of architecture from all over the world, and which is only paces away from Brown’s.

Last year, the pair joined forces in creating The Paul Smith Suite, which is on the hotel’s first floor and looks out onto the boutique-populated Albemarle Street through large windows that flood it with natural light. Greeting you ‘like a handshake,’ as Smith explains, is a bronze banana door handle which sets the tone for a space filled with his quirky sense of wit and curiosities of the kind found in his shops.

Smith handpicked artworks for the art wall (a signature detail in every Paul Smith shop) and compiled a library of art and design books too. He says, ‘I’ve long been of the belief that you can find inspiration everywhere. But I think it tends to come a bit easier when you’re in a creative space and surrounded by imaginative objects and artworks.’

The suite also features certain pieces of furniture and art found in Smith’s Covent Garden headquarters, where he designs garments in his famously cluttered office (cluttered, that is, with eclectic, intriguing objects). Examples include the Mario Bellini leather desk chair he uses and a large print by Christopher Simon Sykes of the beautiful library at Chatsworth House.

Smith explains, ‘Just like Brown’s does with its rooms, we design every Paul Smith shop differently to celebrate the area’s individuality, which is just one of the reasons the project appealed to me. On a more personal level, I’m so pleased we’ve been able to include objects that inspire me and I hope, in turn, they’ll inspire the suite’s guests.’

While the suite celebrates the inspiring charm guests have always found at Brown’s, a careful balance between calming tones and expressive flashes of colour, such as mark cushions from Paul Smith’s debut homeware collection, means guests can relax here too.

As Polizzi says, ‘It is exciting to have a Sir Paul Smith Suite at Brown’s Hotel. It is elegant, bright, and happy, and has a lovely sense of fun. The sitting room is full of interest with its wall of pictures, smart sofas, and flamboyant cushions. The bedroom is strikingly different, with its sense of calm and space. He has captured the feeling of Brown’s Hotel, but with a Paul Smith twist.’

Brown’s Hotel, 33 Albemarle Street, London W1S 4BP; to book the Sir Paul Smith Suite, visit

Nick Ross is a writer based in London who writes for Brummell

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