In these minimalist days of exposed brick and bare light bulbs, channeling a sumptuous 18th–century aesthetic seems like a bold step. Certainly the new Batty Langley’s (doubles from $458) hotel is something of an original.
Named after a Georgian interior designer and architect who gained notoriety for his construction books and grand designs (some of which informed Mount Vernon), he’s been brought back to life through the loving restoration of two townhouses on a cobbled back street in Spitalfields. The area is next to the financial City of London and is known for its well-preserved Georgian architecture, characterful artistic residents and covered market.
The owners, who also own London’s heritage properties Hazlitt’s and The Rookery, took five years to meticulously renovate and furnish the hotel’s 29 rooms with oil paintings and decorative antiques (carved wooden armoires, ornate four poster beds, even a bathroom hidden behind a book shelf stacked with aging hardbacks).
They’ve named each room after a significant local character, ranging from petty thief Ann Flyn to silk merchant James Leman, creating palpable layers of history despite the comfortable modern trappings (Apple TVs hidden behind mirrored cabinets and an honesty bar, for example).
This isn’t the only London hotel looking to characters of the past to create a new vision for the present. Not far from Batty Langley’s is Zetter Townhouse Clerkenwell (doubles from $356), where the fictional Aunt Wilhelmina has given rise to an idiosyncratic hotel stuffed with old-fashioned curios such as old models, taxidermy and period details with a touch of Britpop. Its sister property, Zetter Townhouse Marylebone—opening this August—will take its inspiration from Wilhelmina’s brother, Uncle Seymour.