A customized version of Giogali makes for a dazzling centerpiece in the lobby of the historic Hotel Cafè Royal, which reopened in 2012 after a conservative renovation by the architect David Chipperfield.
Hotel Café Royal is a five-star hotel at 68 Regent Street in Piccadilly, London. Before its overhaul in 2008-2012 it was both a restaurant and a meeting place.
The hotel was originally conceived and established in 1865 by Daniel Nicholas Thévenon, who was a French wine merchant. He had to flee France because of bankruptcy, arriving in Britain in 1863 with his wife Célestine, and only five pounds in cash. He changed his name to Daniel Nicols and under his management – and later that of his wife – the Café Royal flourished and was at one point considered the largest wine cellar in the world.
By 1890 the Café Royal had become the place to see and be seen. His patrons included Oscar Wilde, Aleister Crowley, Virginia Woolf, D. H. Lawrence, Winston Churchill, Noël Coward, Brigitte Bardot, Max Beerbohm, George Bernard Shaw, Jacob Epstein, Mick Jagger, Elizabeth Taylor, Muhammad Ali and Diana, Princess of Wales. The cafe was the scene of a famous meeting on March 24, 1895, when Frank Harris advised Oscar Wilde to drop his criminal defamation charge against the Marquis of Queensberry, father of Alfred Douglas. Queensberry was acquitted and Wilde was subsequently tried, convicted and imprisoned. Since 1951, the Café Royal was home to the National Sporting Club. It was purchased by David Locke in 1972.
Prominent personalities continued to host important events there until the beginning of the 21st century. Kanye West played 20 new songs in 2014 when he was a DJ at a private party with Frank Ocean at the Café Royal. At a private British Fashion Awards after-party, hosted by Kate Moss and Naomi Campbell at the Café Royal, guests included Harry Styles, Cara Delevingne and Rihanna.
The Café Royal shut its doors in December 2008. The accessories and furniture were subsequently sold at auction. The building is a Grade II classified building, which means that its features and architecturally significant fixtures are protected.
Seen around the hotel is the symbol “N”, which represents “Nicols” to remind visitors of the hotel’s foundation and history behind it.
According to the concierge, however, Nicols’ son-in-law, who had put in place the symbol “N”, did so in commemoration of Napoleon. In fact, any Napoleon enthusiast would immediately recognize the blazon. Nicols thought it was a homage to him for a while and he wasn’t very happy when he realized what the “N” really meant.
David Chipperfield Architects, with Donald Insall Associates, restored and transformed the building into a hotel with 160 archetypal rooms and suites, numerous dining rooms and bars, a private club for members, meeting rooms, a ballroom and a spa and gym with an 18-meter swimming pool. Alrov Properties, a subsidiary of the Israeli group Alrov, inaugurated the hotel in December 2012 as The Set’s second 5-star luxury hotel. Twin hotels include the Conservatorium in Amsterdam and the Hotel Lutetia in Paris.
The designers began with a careful study of the images of the time so as to achieve a faithful stylistic reconstruction of the art deco-style lights that illuminate the furnishings. They chose a customized version of Giogali, designed by Maestro Mangiarotti for Vistosi, as the best solution to enhance the spacious lobby of the historic Hotel.
Giogali is defined by simple shapes designed to overcome differences in scale, function and complexity. An iconic interplay of lines where pure craftsmanship is the master.