Suite Dreams: The Mandeville Hotel's fifth floor suites have received a first-class makeover courtesy of Maison Christian Lacroix
Christian Lacroix celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. It’s not been an easy three decades. The brand, famed for haute couture designs and prêt-á-porter fashion fell into administration in 2009, culling a workforce of 124 to just 12. Forced to limit its production line to accessories and perfumes, the brand has since sought better times in interiors.
Under creative director Sacha Walckhoff, Maison Christian Lacroix has forged an exclusive partnership with Designers Guild since 2011. Signature flamboyant patterns have been transferred onto wallpapers and fabrics – floral harlequin shapes, multi-coloured foliage, hot pink leopard print, crushed velvet, and exotic panoramas of palm trees. The designs may be an acquired taste, but they’re certainly popular.
Fresh to this line up is four-star The Mandeville Hotel in Marylebone. The grand white stucco entrance to the residence is in the heart of central London. Flanked by gleaming pillars, the façade is an impressive introduction to a rather unassuming reception waiting inside.
As with most places in London, space is at a premium and The Mandeville is no exception (a ‘Tiny Single Room’ is included on the suite list). The new selection of Deluxe Riviera Rooms on the fifth floor, however, are a little more roomy, and this is where Christian Lacroix has worked its ostentatious magic.
Using the Belles Rives fabrics collection, Christian Lacroix revisits scenes of the French Riviera. The chaotic Santo Sospir villa that belonged to French socialite Francine Weisweiller is reflected on the eclectic walls, as are elements of the classic film To Catch a Thief starring Grace Kelly and Cary Grant, through pick’n’mix jewellery patterns.
As soon as the lift opens, I am bombarded with candy-stripe corridors and rainbow-coloured cushions. I have four suites to choose from in the collection: Midnight Blue (sultry navy surfaces and shiny bed linen), Jewel Box (a blue and white kaleidoscopic take on classic Lacroix designs), Classic Lacroix (a simple, romantic black and white affair), and the Jardin Exotique (a fresh and jungly take on Monaco’s botanical gardens).
I opt for the latter. Palm trees and bright handcrafted fabrics that line the walls and frame the windows are accompanied by flashy accents –from Julian Chichester pineapple lamps to leopard skin-cut velvet. There is even a nod to Breton stripe shirts with a signature wall of black and white lines.
While the design may be extravagant, the facilities are pared back. A small bath and shower are in the underfloor-heated bathroom next door, while the mini bar, Nespresso machine and desk tick all the necessary boxes.
Outside the view is somewhat less chic. Expecting a romantic Mary Poppins-esque panorama of London’s rooftops, I am faced with a far less exciting reality: a rather unattractive sight of air conditioning vents, fire escapes and drain pipes.
But I’m not here to stare at back buildings – this is the perfect time to shop. A stone’s throw from Oxford Street and a short walk to Bond Street or Soho, I’m soon busy filling up shopping bags.
Once they’re bursting at the seams, I make a pit-stop at the Reform Social & Grill, the hotel’s restaurant and bar. While the cocktails are sublime and the bar is buzzing in the early hours of the evening, dinner is somewhat lacklustre, and my companion and I end up being the only customers sat at a table. This doesn’t detract from the food however: a reasonably priced, gastro-pub-type menu of fish and chips, perfectly cooked lamb, meaty burgers and Shepherd’s pie.
Wined, dined and ready to retreat to my tropical suite, I think that Christian Lacroix Maison would be proud to learn that, 30 years from starting out, it still manages to entertain with imaginative and most impressive creations.