The Conrad London (technically the Conrad London St James Hotel) has all you’d expect from a classical luxury London hotel. Creams, golds, attentive service, fast wifi, in-room coffee units and an impressive concierge.
The Blue Boar Bar, on the other hand, delivers a deliciously devilish look into British politics – and a mean display of British condiments to boot.
It’s often difficult to tell what is “British” about Britain when it comes to small details. Three pronged plugs. Mind the gap signs. PG Tips.
That’s the kind of thing that makes up a rich cultural heritage.
Aside from my sense of embarrassment at being so scruffy and, er, “scented” in the midst of such pristinesness (it should be a word,) the context had an additional benefit: I saw my country through new, slightly foreign eyes.
Colman’s Mustard. Branston pickle. Heinz tomato ketchup. Quite probably a bulbous jar of marmite, waiting for someone with some hot buttered toast to spread it thin and spread it just right. Or was I just dreaming…
No, back to reality, the message I have to tell you is this: the Conrad London is the luxury hotel you’d expect it to be. I’ll go into the details about that in a minute.
But the real treasure is the art. Not necessarily the art that’s labelled as important. But the art that conducts a social and political commentary on British life over the last two to three generations.
See Margaret Thatcher’s beaked nose and brash handbag dominate over proceedings. Watch Bo-Jo’s blonde fop-mop flop around. Look out for Churchill, Cameron, the gloss-eyed Blair and the brooding Brown.
Look out for the cartoon pig coasters, saying that “this is a safe seat” to denote that a table’s reserved.
Watch for the wall-fitted bell that used to ring to tell the occupants that it was time to go back to the House.
And look out for the claustrophobic, clawing, cloying sculpture of that esteemed and towering institution: the House of Commons.
This is the stuff you’d paid to see in a well-curated exhibition.
And it’s here, right here, amidst the corporate luxury and cool location of the Conrad Hotel London.
Find the full specs on the London Conrad St James over here.
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