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British Convivialité

The material and colour palette, combined with exotic touches and bold custom-made furniture give this cosy hotel a retro chic style that perfectly blends vintage and modern.

A love of London does not guarantee the success of an interior design project, however, it is certainly a good starting point. Dorothée Meilichzon—who, in 2009 when she was just 27 years old, set up her own studio, Chzon, in Paris—has already gained a reputation in the French capital’s hospitality industry with Hotel Paradis, Le Grand Pigalle, Hotel Bachaumont and Hotel Panache. Dorothée’s latest project, the newly opened Henrietta Hotel—owned by Experimental Group—is her first hotel in London.

Located on its eponymous street, just off Covent Garden Market, it occupies two townhouses that date back to the 19th century. One, from 1874, once housed the office of Victor Gollancz Ltd., which published the works of George Orwell, Kingsley Amis and John Le Carre. The other, from 1887, was designed by HE Pollard and features an Anglo-Dutch style with red brick and terracotta. “It is a neighbourhood I know well as I worked on the Experimental Cocktail Club in Chinatown nearby and the Compagnie des Vins at Neal’s Yard a few years ago,” says Dorothée.

The local environment and British architecture were main sources of inspiration for designing the interior spaces, ensuring Henrietta Hotel would perfectly fit its surroundings. “The brick tone of the street’s buildings inspired the colour palette of the rooms and restaurant,” Dorothée explains. “As we are very close to the Covent Garden Market, I used a lot of flora and fauna elements and details from biophilic design such as the giant hand-painted tigers on the ceiling, the leopard-skin patterns, herbarium framed on the walls, the lush green and terracotta tiles, and the hardwood floor, among others.”

In total, eight different paints by Little Greene, Farrow & Ball, and Dulux contribute to the unexpected aesthetic of Henrietta Hotel: light pink, light blue, dark navy blue, faded blue, emerald green, military green, a faded red and a very light grey. Noticeably absent is any kind of white.

Long and narrow, the ground floor decorated with a Cole and Son wallpaper leads to the two-storey restaurant managed by renowned British chef Ollie Dabbous. Adorned with a big, steel-framed glass roof on the mezzanine modelled after the arched glass ceiling in the Covent Garden Market, this public area comprises 40 Carimate chairs by Vico Magistretti—which were purchased one by one—and Charlotte Perriand-inspired free shape tables in a decor that reflects both Victorian ornamentations and Art Deco touches. Mixing patterns and contrasting shapes set the tone for a playful yet sophisticated space.

In every corner, timeless materials, including brass, white Carrara marble, wool, lime wood, silk, velvet, brushed aluminium and terracotta tiles help to tell an authentic story. “They are a bit precious but also very simple,” Dorothée says of the materials.

Experimentation was key in all the spaces, in particular in the 18 rooms—done in four hues—that were created to enable inhabitants to “sleep like a king” and “wake up with a smile” according to the interior designer’s words. “I designed four different huge bedheads that refer to the very flat fascia of the Victorian buildings, with a lot of ornamentations and funny roof shapes. They are made of multiple layers of painted wood, bevelled mirrors and fabric panels.” Reminiscent of the surrounding pediments, colonnades, capitals and porticos, cut piece-by-piece and assembled by hand, the oversized, cheerful headboards are one of Dorothée’s favourite elements in the hotel.

The combination of functionality, elegance and warmth is achieved thought the use of brass bedside lights, terrazzo patterned carpets, 70s’-style brushed aluminium armchairs inspired by Pierre Paulin, and suspended wardrobes, all custom-made by Dorothée’s team. In the bright and symmetrical pink bathrooms—some of them with double showers—the octagonal floor tiles were a collaboration between Chzon and French company Winckelmans. The nickel taps are by English manufacturer Lefroy Brooks. “I wanted to create a British atmosphere but with a mix of elements from different eras, which is not that usual in the places I know in London,” Dorothée says.