Mayfair’s narrow streets, lined with brick and masonry embassies, hedge fund offices and the poshest of shops, give off a charmingly antiquated feel. When the Beaumont Hotel opened earlier this week – the first five
The Beaumont has one standout feature, though, that places it a head above the surrounding architecture. A massive and boxy humanoid figure seems to sit, knees hugged to his or her chest and head slumped in a vaguely defeated posture, on the two-storey portico that serves as the hotel’s entrance.
Antony Gormley‘s functional sculpture – called simply “Room” – is of a piece with his other works, which often feature orthogonal and minimalist representations of human figures. For this permanent fixture at the Beaumont, Gormley plied together steel sheets (unfinished and measuring eight millimetres thick) to create an unmistakable landmark that seems to evoke a wistful posture even while assuming a robotic form – a tense combination of machine and emotion across both human and giant scales.
Remarkably, “Room” is more than just an ornament; it also houses a bedroom that can be rented for £2,500 a night. As with the exterior, the interior – which Gormley also designed – stands in contrast to its context. While the Beaumont’s interior is fitted throughout in a luxurious art deco style, the suite housed in “Room” is dark, minimalist, and sepulchral. At only four metres a side, with a soaring 10-metre ceiling, the room is a veritable shaft. It’s topped by a skylight, and features only one small window overlooking the street – you don’t book “Room” for the view.
The spartan interior exudes a certain understated luxury. Because it fills the confines of the cubist figure, it boasts dramatic, bulkhead-like projections, immaculately clad in box-jointed dark fumed oak. As a reviewer at The Guardian noted, “There’s something powerfully perverse about offering, as the height of luxury, a room that resembles a penitent monastic cell created for some guilt-stricken Renaissance prince.” And there is a certain indulgence to shutting out such a stimulating (and exclusive) neighbourhood. In fact, this might be just the respite a guest needs after enduring the stresses of travel and the clash of London’s streets.