While original biblical Doulton terracotta panels still line the walls, simple pleasures are amplified with bespoke scents by Roja Dove, and leather and velvet-draped walls, as L’oscar now celebrates a more sensual devotion. Uniquely sophisticated, the hotel sits in the heart of London’s Southampton Row, within a whisper of the city, Theatreland, Soho, and the West End.
L’oscar’s past is as intriguing as its future.
Built between 1901 and 1903, in a style coined "Edwardian Free Baroque", it was the London headquarters of the Baptist Church.
Architect Arthur Keen mixed ‘Wrenaissance’ style with Arts & Crafts influences, working with some of the best artists and craftsmen of the time to create much of the exterior and interior design: ornately plastered ceilings, carved fireplaces, oak panelling, and finely worked plaques.
Sadly, the building’s fourth floor was damaged by a bomb in World War II. Later, the church’s congregation dwindled and by 1961, there were just 12 worshippers in the chapel on a Sunday morning. It closed to churchgoers soon afterwards and the building was bought by London Transport before its ‘miraculous’ revival began in 2012 with many of its features beautifully restored by master craftsman from across the world.
The management team also remain thankful to both English Heritage and Camden Council for their expert assistance in guiding the sensitive restoration of the building.
The creator of L’oscar and the CEO of L’oscar International, Duncan Shakeshaft explains his vision for the hotel and the brand.
"In opening L’oscar I wanted to create something different. We found a 1903 Arts & Crafts building located in the heart of Bloomsbury’s historic Holborn, close to the City, to Theatreland, to Soho and the West End. Inspired by the history of the Bloomsbury Set, the Arts & Crafts design of the building and theatrical traditions of the area, I then brought in Jacques Garcia, Parisian décorateur, to create a seductive interior in a typically non-English style.
A hotel is essentially a theatre, with staff and guests playing their parts. It is a performance of the utmost quality, with every detail considered for the enjoyment of the guest and to enhance the harmony of the whole.”
Duncan’s distinctive influence can be found in the stylised peacock motif doors, the mirrored counter at the centre of the hotel’s Baptist Bar, the hotel’s signature hollow stem Champagne coupes, snug eiderdowns duvets filled with hand-picked down feathers from Iceland, and butterfly wing taps, while his eye for antique detail also provided a potpourri of object d’art all over the hotel, including the Edwardian handbags of the restaurant staff. But, apart from the absolute commitment to service and standards, L’oscar does not take itself too seriously.
There is a hint of irreverence, a nod towards decadence, a touch of the risqué. There is theatre, entertainment, humour and wit in its presentation. The business of L’oscar is to put every temptation in front of its guests, gastronomically, visually and tangibly. All with impeccable levels of service. These are the values that will accompany the L’oscar brand on its next exciting step – the expansion and development of L’oscar International to other key markets around the world.
Every Jacques Garcia hotel oozes atmosphere. In L’oscar, Garcia employs images of butterflies, birds and peacock feathers as the embodiment of his theatrical style. The décorateur is famous for also creating the heady, red velvet tones of hôtel costes in Paris, the low vintage rugs and dark panelling of the NoMad in New York, and the Imperial Morocco revamp in Marrakech.
‘I am, before everything, a creator of atmosphere.’Jacques Garcia