There is a corner of England that is forever midnight. A place where romance and mystery meet for a dry martini. Entrance to this dark enclave shaded from time is through a silver Art Deco door; upon entering, one feels like Ayesha from Rider Haggard’s She. But it does not take a singe from the flame of immortality to feel like a goddess at the iconic Fumoir in Claridge’s Hotel in London. The ambiance and lighting bathes everyone in beauty and glamour, regardless of which side of 40 you’re on.

The room is opulent and sinfully dark. Vintage photographs of Marlene Dietrich and Coco Chanel line the panelled walls. Aubergine velvet tufted banquettes earth this sensual space, lightplay is created by Lalique crystal panels, uplighters, and a 1930s mirrored bar surround. The tinkle of coupes and Champagne flutes creates a vitrine medley for romance. It is a temple to one of the old gods, La Diva Nicotina, whose smoky spirit—though now prohibited—still wafts through this darkly decadent jewel box.

We have the Scots designer and architect Basil Ionides to thank for this Art Deco marvel. Truly she is a grand dame, one who does not change with the whimsy of fashion. Here, the scent of white roses perfumes the air. And while my own salad days may be behind me, I look forward to many more days of wine and roses here in the legendary Fumoir.

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  • b. elliott February 27, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    So evocative! I plan to visit next time I go across the pond.