Are you anywhere as extraordinary as The Picture of Dorian Grey’s author? read on to find out.
“Quotation is a serviceable substitute for wit” said Oscar Wilde so for the sake of my ego, I’ll keep Wilde’s one liners to a strict minimum in this post.
If you’re vaguely familiar with the material I could be drawing from, you’ll know that’s a shame for you.
Wilde’s brilliance with words needs no introduction. Though true critical acclaim came to him posthumously, he will always (we hope) be considered as one of the greats and lines such as “I can resist everything except temptation” or “Life is far too important a thing ever to talk seriously about” will probably be scribbled in the liner notes of literature classes for generations to come.
Basically when you hear one of the kids screaming out “YOLO!” (You Only Live Once) they’re channeling Wilde… albeit, quite poorly.
The author’s contributions to literature are only matched by his perfection of the art of no holes barred, stop-at-no-expense, haute living.
Wilde spent a lot of time in luxury hotels. Whether enjoying fine dinners or secret lovers, he always did so in the most lavish of settings until an empty wallet and bank account put an unglamorous end to it all.
The man who famously smoked cigarettes embossed with his name and who would gladly take a cab to go just down the road, embraced excess and infused his daily life with as much flair as the pages of his novels.
But the question is, can you match up?
It so happens that there’s a number of hotels in our collection that were once graced by Oscar Wilde. If you’re a fan of the author you’ll love staying in these hotels that have kept the spirits of the past alive within their walls.
And, you may also want to try living as he did for a while. With reckless abandon and for the sheer love of opulence and a disdain for moderation. Here’s our how to guide of living on the Wilde side in some of Wilde’s favorite hotels…
If you’re a celebrity in the early 20th century, you were nothing until you stayed at the Savoy The first hotel in the world to incorporate cutting edge technology such as lifts, electric lighting and en suite bathrooms equipped with cold and hot water. Everyone was a fan… except for Oscar Wilde who famously said.
“What is it good for? If I want hot water, I call for it.”
Obviously things have changed nowadays and if you insist on calling for hot water, you’re liable to have your sanity questioned. What hasn’t changed one bit though, is the Savoy’s status which still commands awe, even among other established hotels.
Living on the Wilde Side:
All rooms at the Savoy are exceptional. But, if you want to get the Wilde experience, you’ll need a suite.
Not just because it’s the best choice if you want the royal treatment at a hotel, but also because the Savoy’s suites all come with dedicated 24 hour butler service.
As Oscar Wilde loved the classic side of things when it came to luxury, eschew the Savoy’s Art Deco designed rooms and go for the Edwardian themed Royal Suite.
Wake up to views of the Thames and the smell of coffee and a hearty English breakfast being sizzled and baked from your private kitchen, courtesy of your chef (if you brought one along) or a Savoy butler.
When the time comes to go to Mayfair, in no circumstance should you walk or use public transport. One of Wilde’s greatest excesses was to be driven to where he had to be, no matter how close the destination. Nowadays you can go one step further than Wilde by renting one of the Savoy’s chauffeured luxury vehicles.
For your fine dining, choose the traditional british fare being served at the Savoy Grill. Wilde regularly dined here and to this day, the seating arrangement has been preserved so if you want to sit at the same table as the author you can do so. You can also be eating the same food as well.
The Savoy’s first ever chef was Auguste Escoffier and his signature dishes live on in the Grill’s excellent Game Escoffier Menu. Feast on pigeonneaux & parsnip tarts, Scottish venison broth with beetroots and curly kale, whisky flambéed pears and eat to your heart’s content and some more… it’s what he would have done.
Before bed, you must indulge in a strong digestif so head for the bar, the Beaufort preferably. Yes we know that the mixology history was made in the American Bar, but since we’re looking for the all out, we simply cannot pass up on this masterpiece.
Gold leaf interiors, cabaret music, ebony panelling, the bar’s setting is a masterpiece. There’s no Absynthe on the menu (at least not the 19th century kind), but the award winning team here serve up exquisite Character Cocktails that’ll capture your imagination with their looks and taste.
The London Hotel so associated with Wilde that it even has a bar named after it.
If you were part of London’s intellectual and social elite in the 19th century, chances are that your afternoons would be spent drinking and discussing at the Hotel Café Royal London… and if you could suffer the company of anyone more articulate than yourself, you’d probably be shouting Wilde a few drinks and talking about the finer things in life.
Living on the Wild Side:
The suite of a choice here was incredibly hard to pick. Yes we could have gone for the all out and chosen the exquisite vistas and looks of the Dome Wing:
But somehow, we think that contemporary designs wouldn’t get Wilde’s pulses racing as much as his own suite:
The Oscar suite has got all the visual flair and over the top amenities to keep a fanciful dandy satisfied. Carrera marble bathrooms, English fumed oak panelling, a guest room and a separate lounge area… even Wilde would blush.
Booking the suite will give you complimentary access and use of the the Akasha Holistic Wellbeing Spa and a number of the hotel’s restaurant and bar’s… The best of which is of course, the Oscar Wilde Bar.
The Oscar Wilde Bar is the 21st century version of the Grill Room, the exact place where Wilde regularly outwitted some of his peers and outdrinking them in the process. It’s the place where Churchill regularly dined and where the founders of the Aesthetic movement waxed lyrical.
Nowadays you can still enjoy intellectual conversations, but it’ll be to the clinking sounds of tea cups instead of the period’s usual poison of choice, absynthe. The hotel serves one of London’s best afternoon teas and also doubles as a live music venue and hosts Cabaret shows. Reopened in 2015, the Hotel Café Royal is steadily winning back its crown of London’s most fashionable venue and it’s well worth a visit.
L’Hôtel is a stunning 5 star boutique Parisian hotel designed by Jacques Garcia and is home to a Michelin Star restaurant. Nothing like the hotel where Oscar Wilde spent his last moments on earth.
After a two year stint in prison, Wilde passed away to Meningitis in a dank room of Hôtel d’Alsace (former l’Hôtel), a far cry from the prestigious luxury establishments he had once called home. But, in a bid to live up to its famous ghost’s aura, the Hôtel d’Alsace has now transformed into one of the most exclusive boutique hotels in the world.
Living on the Wilde side:
In this mini list, L’Hôtel is the establishment most often associated with Oscar Wilde and the hotel never ceases to remind you of it’s famous ex resident.
Oscar Wilde memorabilia can be found everywhere and are a testament of the hotel’s unique association. Photographs, letters and even a note reminding the writer to pay an outstanding bill of 26,000 francs are hung in the lobby for that unique touch.
If you want to be channeling the famous author, staying in the Oscar Wilde suite is a must.
The walls of the suite are decorated in the same fashion as Wilde’s apartment in London. Peacocks kissing each other, wood panelling and of course, an exquisitely crafted writers desk make up the room… we doubt that Wilde would want to see the wallpaper go now.
Every element of the hotel exudes class and would come with Wilde’s stamp of approval. The private pool and steam room is reserved for guests only and coddles you from the hustle and bustle of Paris going on outside. It’s definitely no olympic pool but it feels like the city’s best kept secret… one that’ll leave you feeling good and refreshed.
Jacques Garcia’s redesign flirts with the Second Empire and the contemporary and his Midas touch is a joy to behold.
L’Hôtel is one of the smallest luxury establishments you will ever visit and by extension it’s one of the most exclusive. Surprisingly, its restaurant, “Le Restaurant” (much more creative in the kitchen than when choosing names) was awarded a Michelin star in 2008 and has held it ever since. Perhaps in honor of its most british of guests, the hotel is one of the few in Paris to offer an afternoon tea of exceptional quality which you should simply indulge in until you’re bursting at the seams.
London, Paris and even America were all touched by Wilde’s wit and larger than life attitude and we think that these hotels are the ones that best represent his short, but lavish time on earth. If we’ve missed a few or you’ve got other ideas, just drop us a comment in the box below and we’ll be happy to answer.