London’s Most Unusual Christmas Tree – The ‘TASCHEN Tree’ At Belgraves

Belgraves, the boutique Thompson Hotel chain’s only offering outside the continental USA, is currently displaying what must be the city’s most unusual Christmas Tree – it’s made of books!

The tree, which greets you as soon you enter Belgraves’ atrium, is constructed using 385 titles from Cologne-based art book publisher TASCHEN – it stands seven feet high and took four people ten hours to build. In addition to the ‘TASCHEN Tree’, the publisher has also established a small display in the Belgraves lobby which show off some of their newest titles, including The James Bond Archives, Gustav Klimt: The Complete Paintings and Her Majesty. Residents at the hotel can also purchase selected titles from TASCHEN’s range, and the publisher’s regular magazine is being provided in the hotel’s rooms during the festive season.

While I was at the hotel earlier this week I also took the opportunity to have a look around – originally built for the Sheraton group, Thompson Hotels acquired it in 2011 and then set about completely restyling the interior under the supervision of top-drawer Belgravia designer, Tara Bernerd and Partners (the fact that their website has a single understated page with no contact details whatsoever speaks volumes about the quality and exclusivity of their services!).

Belgraves opened in early 2012 with eighty-five rooms, including fourteen suites. The public areas that Tara Bernerd designed are models of understated chic – the lobby, first floor lounge and restaurant are finished in blonde oak and exposed brick with just a few extravagant additions to set them off. The rooms themselves are a revelation – even the standard rooms have inspired touches, for example the showers have glass walls covered in metal bead curtains that peek out into the bedroom, which I thought was a very sexy touch. There’s also a fresh orchid in every room, supplied by Carter Cherrill whose arrangements have won several awards at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show.

As you would expect, the two-room suites on the top floor are very calm, exquisitely styled spaces and also have the advantage of being on a floor which is higher that the surrounding buildings – pay for the privilege and you can have commanding views of the entire London skyline from every window (each of these rooms also has several small outdoor balconies).

My favourite rooms at Belgraves, however, are the ‘corner suites’ – stacked up on top of each other with a view over the street and the Germany Embassy beyond, each of these rooms has three oriel windows. One is occupied by a desk, another by a very modern chunky sofa (in Thompson’s chosen signature colour for their London base of a deep aubergine) and the third, which you’ll find in the bathroom, contains the generously proportioned tub. You can have a soak with views of the street on three sides through almost floor to ceiling sized windows – for the less extrovert guest there’s also the option of a marble-lined two-man shower with a huge rainforest shower head, a feature of every room in the hotel…

Being in a rather exclusive part of London and popular with well-heeled international visitors to the capital, as would you expect a room at Belgraves is premium-priced. That being said, book well in advance and you can pay less than £250 a night for a King Superior Room – the standard, although sumptuous offering. It’s certainly worth considering for that extra special romantic night away.

I’ll close with a small tip of the hat to Thompson’s confident brand of US charm – while bellboys at equivalent London hotels are festooned in frock coats and top hats, at Belgraves the staff on the door wear Levi jeans and plaid shirts…