There’s an intimate grandeur beyond the formidable doors of The Twenty Two, a stunning boutique hotel, restaurant and members’ club in London‘s tony Mayfair neighborhood. The hospitality haven is housed in an architectural marvel: a former Edwardian mansion crafted from Portland stone that’s set off of Grosvenor Square (22 Grosvenor Square to be exact), which lived a recent life as office space. Today, it’s imbued with a particular style of sophisticated opulence that’s underscored by friendly service and an omnipresent sense that just about anything is possible. For anyone wary of a members’ club in London (an exclusive and often exclusionary hospitality sector), The Twenty Two grants hotel guests membership during their time on site.
“This project was with me for almost six years prior to opening,” says proprietor Navid Mirtorabi. “The idea was to create something for myself, to be honest, though not just for myself, but my friends and our extended creative circles in London, Paris and New York. I wanted a living room concept. I wanted a space where everyone felt comfortable regardless of their background, their age or how they dress.”
Mirtorabi had walked by 22 Grosvenor Square for 20 years and never noticed it. “It was a derelict office building,” he says, but he became fixated on it when he decided to bring a new hospitality venture to life. “I was talking to quite a lot of landlords in the area and with this building they were going to do a residential development. I said, ‘I think it could work as a hotel.’ They said, ‘No, we’ve done the numbers. It’s too small to be a hotel.’ It took me about a year to convince them that I was going to turn it into a boutique hotel and members’ club and bring a different clientele to Mayfair.”
Central to Mirtorabi’s vision is the shifting cultural landscape in London. “London is quite spread out,” he says. “People do not go out to other neighborhoods as much as they used to because a lot of new hotels and restaurant concepts have mushroomed up around London. If you live in East London or Battersea, 20 years ago your choices were only Soho or Mayfair. Now every area of London has superb restaurants, bars and clubs. The creatives do not come to Mayfair as much as they used to. There’s nothing that caters to them.” He knew he could change this.
For anyone with an appreciation of the maximalist aesthetic, The Twenty Two exceeds design expectations and then some. Mirtorabi tapped architect and designer Natalia Miyar. “The pitch was that I want to do something theatrical. I wanted people to feel taken away from their normal lives. I wanted people to dream. I wanted people to feel that they’re in Central London but they’re not in Central London. And that’s where it all started.”
Miyar looked to Château de Malmaison (the home of Joséphine Bonaparte) and Christian Dior’s Parisian apartment for inspiration. “A lot of it was French inspired—late 18th century French interiors that we looked at together,” she says. “It starts at the entrance, where we introduce the theme of using traditional elements of French design: the limestone floor with a black cabochon and classic paneling and couture detailing on the furniture. Then we start to play around with it. We introduced playful theatrical touches. For instance, the ceiling is a black mirror that replicates the pattern on the floor. The idea is that it is a stage set for a really playful evening, meal or stay.”
All 31 rooms (which represent seven different room types, including a mews house) are saturated in color. “We wanted to have a varitety of experiences for guests driven by the design,” Miyar says, “and each one has its own character.” All of them, however, are unified by the same chic black and white bathrooms. Further, “All the pieces of furniture have been designed carefully for The Twenty Two, to make sure that it feels very special,” she adds.
“In the alcove rooms, we took advantage of the architecture to use a very classic French application of a material everywhere,” Miyar says. “We worked with Pierre Frey to choose 18th century patterns that were most appropriate. Each of these rooms is different. There are no two that are the same except for the fact that the pattern is everywhere—even on the ceiling.” It’s an immersion into pattern and color and successfully so.
Public spaces channel this commitment to saturation, ornamentation and detail-orientation. On the ground floor, to the left of entry, is the club space. “We’ve taken traditional details and turned them on their head,” Miyar continues. “There’s really sumptuous detailing in the upholstery and furniture. Navid curated a wonderful library collection that’s meant to be read. It’s not for display. Everything is for use.” After 6PM, the rules of the clubhouse change. Laptops must be put away. Dogs must be sent to guest rooms (or home). And the clubroom transforms into a chic cocktail space with a DJ.
Opposite the clubroom is The Twenty Two’s all-hours restaurant, helmed by executive chef Alan Christie and serving modern British cuisine. “I want it to be a place where people feel comfortable coming four times a week,” Mirtorabi says. As such, the menu is diverse and delicious, stretching from refreshing flavors to dishes of absolute indulgence. The decor pairs well with the menu, from the lush blue tones to the beautiful fabrics. There’s also a “custom-made chandeliers from vintage parts and blown glass,” Miyar explains.
A visit, whether that’s to stay or to dine, is more than the sum of the decor. There’s a thoughtful warmth from the staff, and everything feels comfortable. “If the design is fun but people can’t sleep in the bed or enjoy their shower, everything is forgotten,” Mirtorabi concludes. “It is important for everyone to be comfortable.” Mirtorabi and Miyar have together excelled in delivering upon the promise of comfort, and they’ve inspired in the process.
Images courtesy of The Twenty Two