Dezeen Magazine

Rough Luxe Hotel by Rabih Hage

London-based designer and curator Rabih Hage has opened a hotel in a Georgian terraced house in London, UK.


The hotel has nine rooms and incorporates partially sanded walls, chipped paint and bare floorboards alongside opulent furnishings chosen by Hage. Murals created from photographs of interiors by artist Massimo Listri cover some of the walls.


"The rough texture of the walls now celebrates the papering, painting, priming and patching over the years," says Hage.


The Rough Luxe Hotel opened to the public in September.

The following captions and text are from Rabih Hage:


Rough Luxe Hotel
A new concept for London

Just a step away from King’s Cross station and tucked away down a quiet side street is a very surprising new hotel. It’s called Rough Luxe and the look and feel of this Georgian terraced house is the creation of designer and gallery curator Rabih Hage.

Above: This is the Lobby of the Hotel; with an orange rug in felt: hand woven in the north of Portugal (from Bereiz), black chair one-off chair by Karen Ryan. Photography of Guilbert & Geogre by Jonathan Root, plaster chandelier by Patrice Gruffaz, lamp and lampshade in goose feathers by Rabih Hage. “Vulcan” metal side table and rabbit by Patrice Gruffaz. As you can see I have left the 1970 cabinet where the fireplace used to be (before 1974) and removed all wallpaper to reveal the patina of the walls. You can guess the old wallpaper pattern on these walls too.


Above: Headboard Louis XVI style with python print on silk fabric, black fabric from Dedar. Bedcover fabric from Sahco. Bedside tables made out of Bordeaux wine crates, Bronze lamp on the left by Rabih Hage, metal lamp of the right by Julie Prisca. Picture above the bed by “Palazzo Altieri, in Roma” by Massimo Listri 2006.


Above: First Left page Bathroom with a copper bath from Turkey. Original wallpaper circa 1831-1855. This wallpaper was found after removing 4 layers of wallpaper. This is when I have decided that we need to show the story of the building with its textures and fabrics. New shower and plumbing in this bathroom. Ceiling light form the Savoy Hotel (this light use to be the emergency light of the corridors of the Savoy Hotel, I bought it at auction from Bonhams in London in February 2008). Painting “Over Here” by Susan Shup Oil on Canvas 2003.


Above: Basin cabinet designed by Rabih Hage with Black Bisazza mosaics and wood-turned legs (each one different), Basin and taps from Saneux, shower enclosure and showerhead from Matki (UK) tiles in ceramic 50cmx100cm from Walton Ceramic. Stool in scrapwood by Piet Hein Eek, console by Patrice Gruffaz and 1940’s painting by an anonymous artist for an American womens magazine (Rabih Hage has a small collection of these 1940’s American illustrations for paper back covers and magazines).


Above: Dining room with sold wood dining table made out of reclaimed timber from Brighton Pier. Ceiling trompe l’oeil photography of the “Cupola di San Lorenzo” in Torino by Massimo Listri, plaster chandelier by Patrice Gruffaz. Trompe l’oeil photography of the Biblioteca Nazionale in Napoli by Massimo Listri. Art “This is Shit” by Daniel Baker 2008.


At Rough Luxe you must set aside all thoughts of hotels with conventional air-conditioned constancy, marbled flooring, polished finishes and bland colours. Rough Luxe is the complete antithesis to all of that.

According to Rabih Hage: ‘Beauty is subjective. Perfection doesn’t mean beauty. It’s not important. What makes a place great to stay is the location, the welcome you get and how well you are looked after. The material side is irrelevant.’

On entering the Rough Luxe hotel you might be forgiven for thinking that the builders haven’t quite finished their work. But what you see is what you get. This is the style of the place – a fascinating blend of urban archaeology, partially sanded surfaces, bare floorboards, chipped paint and rough edges mingled with gloriously opulent contemporary wallpaper and modern art plus top quality furnishings.

The idea for this look evolved when the building was purchased by a client of Rabih Hage. Having been run as a small hotel by an Italian family for decades, there was a need for updating. As a listed building from the 1850s, there were limits to the amount of redevelopment which would be possible.

Early on in the refurbishment, layers of wallpaper were peeled away to reveal decoration ideas from centuries ago. Rabih’s instinct was to keep this intriguing ‘archaeology’ of interior design rather than cover it up. The texture of years of occupation is tangible in every room of this narrow town house. The rough texture of the walls now celebrates the papering, painting, priming and patching over the years. In each room the ‘deconstructed’ walls contrast with chic contemporary paper or huge murals created from photographs of interiors by Massimo Listri, creating an illusion of space and opulence.

There are nine rooms. Most have en suite bathrooms, some share and all small, intimate and comfortable. Original light fittings and door fixtures beguile with their period charm and obvious wear and tear.

However, the ‘luxe’ element of the hotel can be seen and felt in the top quality beds and mattresses as well as the fine linen and characterful furniture within the rooms. ‘I was an “extreme customer” at the recent auction at the Savoy Hotel,’ says Rabih, grinning at the memory of bids for quantities of crockery, cutlery, fittings and furniture.

The original 1960s utilitarian kitchen in the basement is staying put – with a few contemporary additions. Breakfast food, provided by Ottolenghi, is served in the dining room next door where guests sit around a table made from wood salvaged from Brighton Pier, beneath an imposing ceiling photo of a Renaissance dome. As an entertainment and amusing ‘stress buster’, Rabih Hage has installed an ‘Anger release machine’ by Yarisal and Kublitz in a tucked away alcove. In the summer a small outside café space has been created for guests to enjoy this perfect London backwater away from the hustle and bustle of city life. There will be a library of diverse and interesting books for the guests to read.

The hotel is the ultimate statement in urban archaeology, where old and new can collide and blend. It’s also a lifestyle club – a way of thinking which people can buy into and feel at ease with.

Rabih Hage and his client have ideas for developing the Rough Luxe brand in unusual dwellings around the world as well as a network of partnerships following the Rough Luxe philosophy. There are already plans for a cowshed in St Moritz and a bodega (a wine cellar) in northern Spain. He sees the established ‘Tribal Tent Hotels’ in Africa as kindred spirits with the same view on the value of experience over material.

And for kindred spirits in search of a novel experience in London, the Rough Luxe Hotel in Kings Cross, positioned by the entrance to The Mews Gallery (By Rabih Hage) will offer a comfortable and comforting hub from which guests can explore cultural London. Rough Luxe may well turn out to be the perfect spot for discerning travellers in search of ‘anti-luxury’ (as we know it today) and great character.