Appearances can be deceiving. Hurrying through the crowds around Holborn tube station, you might very well pass L’Oscar London by, but inside this French-designed boutique hotel awaits a fabulously flamboyant world inspired by the ultimate dandy.
Sister to La Reserve Paris, L’Oscar is renowned hotelier Michel Reybier’s first property in London and also the first to be designed by ‘the holy grail of French taste’ Jacques Garcia. While the building might be located in one of the most historic parts of the city – on Southampton Row, between Covent Garden and Bloomsbury – its heart is very much in Paris. Here, opulence reigns supreme, from the furnishings to the food and everything in between.
WHAT TO PACK
Jacques Garcia has a reputation for decadence. Think colonial grandeur meets old-school disco: dark purple velvet, mirrored ceilings encrusted with LED lights, polished black lacquer, tassels and golden cushions. The lobby-come-library offers some clues as to his inspirations: the letters of Horace Walpole adorn the shelves alongside reproduced portraits of Oscar Wilde (after whom the hotel is named) and Virginia Woolf.
For a relatively small hotel, L’Oscar offers an impressive range of different accommodation: from superior and deluxe rooms to a variety of suites. The most extravagant of these is, naturally, the hotel’s namesake complete with wood-panelled walls, a fireplace and an enormous golden headboard.
Our loft suite, located on the top floor was more subdued, with duck-egg coloured walls and a separate living area furnished with Renaissance-style paintings. The heavily-scented his and hers-branded toiletries (hers by the bath and his in the shower) felt slightly out-of-date and, rather than a smart TV, there’s an old-fashioned entertainment system – but it was nonetheless a relaxing place to spend a night.
The Food + Drink
L’Oscar takes dining, at any time of the day, very seriously. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all served in the gilded restaurant, with a short break between 2.30PM and 5PM for afternoon tea and a live DJ spinning tracks in the evenings. For starters try the deliciously crisp and juicy popcorn shrimp or the burrata with basil mayonnaise and red tomatoes, followed by the black miso cod or whole roasted sea bream with a side of truffle fries. Then head to the Bapist bar for a night cap beneath the domed ceiling of a former chapel.
The Little Extras
Space is a luxury in London and L’Oscar has rightly prioritised guest rooms and public spaces rather than trying to cram in extra facilities. The benefit is that the hotel never feels overcrowded, and on a cold or rainy day there are plenty of quiet corners to snuggle up in with a book or to play a board game. We did, however, hear a rumour that there are plans to extend in the not too distant future, with added rooms and a spa.
The To-Do List
Holborn might not be the most attractive neighbourhood in London but with West End theatres, the British Museum and Covent Garden’s restaurants, bars and shops all within easy walking distance, you’re spoilt for choice. The hotel is also conveniently close to two of the city’s quirkiest museums: both the John Soane museum, located in the former residence of the famed British architect and packed full of curiosities including the life-size sarcophagus of the 19th dynasty Pharaoh, and the recently reopened Hunterian Museum, containing over 3,500 anatomical specimens (not for the faint hearted), are located in Lincoln’s Fields.
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