London's Most Glamorous New Hotel Is Inside a Former Church — and There's a Bar in the Chapel
“If you don’t like purple and peacock feathers, you better check out right away,” laughs L’Oscar London’s gracious general manager, Michael Voigt. He’s only half joking: In this 5-star, 39-room hotel, every surface seems festooned with eggplant-colored velvet or feathers embroidered into stiff silk upholstery and leather wallpaper.
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A former 1901 Baptist church located in Holborn, a quirky West End London neighborhood of boutiques and restaurants within an easy walk to Covent Garden, L’Oscar (doubles from $504, including breakfast) has embraced its heritage with a whimsical cheekiness. With its interior design overseen by Jacques Garcia, who is responsible for Paris’ Hotel Côstes and the latest incarnation of Marrakesh’s La Mamounia, the building’s heritage protection means that original details like the black and white marble floors, mahogany banisters, and fireplaces in every room remain. The church’s former chapel still soars towards the heavens, but it is now home to the dimly-lit, impossibly sexy Baptist bar, which serves “Old Testament” cocktails (“Humility,” “Charity,” and “Kindness”) and “New Testament” concoctions named in honor of the seven deadly sins.
For all of its light-hearted pleasure, from the house music soundtrack to a glamorous staff dressed in uniforms of burnished velvet, silk brocade, and lamé, L’Oscar takes comfort very seriously. Every velvet upholstered couch — and they are placed liberally throughout the hotel — is plush and perfect for curling up with a book. The luxe guest rooms, which boast soothing red walls and dramatic hand-embroidered headboards, show the attention given by Voigt during the eight-year renovation: He has spent at least one night in each, anticipating the needs of guests who indulge in the heaviest ply towels and bathrobes available, his and her signature Roja bath products, a Nespresso machine, and a complimentary mini bar. As for the impossibly sumptuous duvets that cover the beds, Voigt proudly attests that it took two years to acquire them: stuffed with baby Eiderdown, “We didn’t pluck their feathers. We waited for them to fall.”
Should you be inspired, you may take one home for $14,000, but better just to revel in your stay, where the ratio of guests to staff results in feeling like you are at a country manor reimagined by both James Ivory and Stanley Kubrick, one short block from the Underground. While L’Oscar proudly wears its causal vibe — this is a place to be yourself — it never feels distracted.
Walk in after a dinner at Michelin-star chef Tony Fleming’s Baptist Grill — Voigt scoured markets to provide Edwardian silver napkin rings and the purses worn by the waitresses — and you will find four additional American-friendly phone chargers added to your one, neatly curled up in outlets. A butler is assigned to each room; waiters in the café and bar effortlessly remember your breakfast and drink orders from the day before.
Regardless of your feelings about purple and peacock feathers, this is a hotel you will want to check into, and stay.