It is rare to share your luxury hotel room with animals, but at the amazing Cinema Suite at Taj’s 51 Buckingham Gate, London, there are three beautiful deer – a stag and his two ladies. Obviously they have been to a taxidermist to make them eternal.
The stag looks down at the gal as she writes, sitting at the enormous, embossed leather-topped chairman’s desk in the office of this suite. Yes, this 1,832 sq ft monstrosity has, well, nearly everything (monstrosity, by the way, means deviating from the norm, and, as such, this is exactly what this suite is all about since, like Topsy, it ‘just grew’ rather than being designed in the usual way).
It had already been designed, actually. Prabhat Verma, the cricket-loving creative genius who is GM of this 82, all-suite, hotel, wanted to do something to celebrate the fact that 2013 is the centenary of India’s movie scene.
The hotel already has a highly modern Jaguar Suite, designed by the top Jaguar designer, Ian Callum (Jaguar, like Taj, is part of the Tata empire). Prabhat Verma asked Rajan Tata if he could do a Cinema Suite based on having an 85-inch, yes 85-inch, plasma-screen television with Steinway Lyngdorf sound.
Many hotels have private cinemas. This hotel wanted a cinema in a living room. Rajan Tata said yes, and as it happened the Kolkata fashion designer Sabyasachi Mukherjee, he whose couture saris were shown at the launch of the Rambagh Palace book last week, happened to be staying at 51 Buckingham Gate.
And so it came to pass. Sabyasachi Mukherjee wanted to do the whole suite, all two bedrooms, two and a half bathrooms, kitchen, dining room for eight, living room, office and hall.
Now comes the oh my goodness part. Conventional interior designers are going to have a fit. Sabyasachi Mukherjee, with an accountant in tow (yes, there was a budget) rushed up and down the antiques shops of Kings Road and anywhere else he could find in London.
He first brought back a Chesterfield, plonked it in the living room and said ‘there’. Next came loads of gold-framed mirrors, elaborately set near to each other in one of the bedrooms. He brought back books, real leather-spined books, and a ten-foot grandfather clock.
As soon as he saw a piece, apparently he envisaged where it might go. There did not seem to be a deadline. Nina Campbell wallpapers, the kind with 15-inch flowers on a black background, were being covered up quick as lightning.
A gorgeous tantalus, named because it is impossible to get at any of the alcohol there (the Ancient Greek god Tantalus was made to stand in a pool beneath a tree whose fruit he could not quite reach, and below him the waters receded before he could take a drink).
Here the tantalus stands next to a chess set, and a standing globe, and in front of an octet of framed corkscrew drawings. Next door, the television, with its hundreds and hundreds of DVDs, every movie you can think of, awaits.
One bedroom has a four-poster that is so high a set of steps is provided. The other bedroom has a cane bedhead. Both have old-fashioned wardrobes, and antique desks and tables. Lie in bed (the cane one) and you look up at fabric on the ceiling.
There are plenty of books here to while away any still-awake hours. Some might choose Damien Hirst: The Complete Medicine Cabinets. Others might go for One Thousand Drawings by Tracey Emin, published by Rizzoli, which personally fascinated me because I think Rizzoli deserves a prize for binding such a book of over a thousand pages. I prefer, actually, to read the Financial Times and Wall Street Journal, both thoughtfully laid out in the living room.
There I am, lying in bed, turning towards its bathroom. Sabyasachi Mukherjee has gone mad with the guest bathroom, which has been turned into a decadent boudoir, black and deep maroon and, of course, lots of art.
The main bathrooms are exactly the opposite, modernism extreme. Floor and walls are big slabs of dark grey and white mottled stone. The far wall, behind the toilet stall and shower, are back-lit day-glo blue, or orange. And, you know, it really works.
This really is a unique suite – but now, what about the rest of this luxury hotel?