Joining the famed Mayfair hotel’s renowned repertoire of food and beverage venues, including The Connaught Bar which was rated the world’s best in 2020, The Red Room is set to be an entirely different experience for guests. The Red Room aptly describes what lies within – a collection of red works by four female visionaries, from one of the most celebrated of our time to a young pioneering Vietnamese artist.
Pieces by Louise Bourgeois, Jenny Holzer, Ti-a Thuy Nguyen and Trina McKillen make up this carefully chosen curation, including an artwork which has, up to now, never been exhibited anywhere in the world before. This one-of-a-kind edit sits against an interior concept designed for refined relaxation, whilst the bar itself – with wine as its focus – boasts a significant collection of the world’s best reds, nodding to the bar’s name and artwork.
The Red Room is nestled within The Connaught – a hideaway that guests will only discover through a velvet-curtained doorway from the hotel’s Champagne Room. Inside, a collection of art that has been years in the making awaits, meticulously curated by Paddy McKillen, co-owner of Maybourne Hotel Group.
McKillen says ‘The Connaught has long been home to a significant collection of art, both classic and contemporary. This paved the way for a collection of four female artists’ work, all in red, which is unusual in its own right. The vision of The Red Room has been in my mind for many years and each piece was bought specifically with this space in mind.’
Perhaps the most important piece hangs over the central marble fireplace, ‘I Am Rouge’ by celebrated French-American artist Louise Bourgeois. This piece in watercolour, gouache and pencil, was a chance find – McKillen happened to mention to Jerry Gorovoy, Bourgeois’ long-time assistant that he was creating a Red Room at The Connaught and a painting, boxed and ready for another exhibition, was bought up from a basement and purchased on the spot. Another piece by Bourgeois is a ruby-red hologram, from an untitled series of 8 holographic pieces from 1998.
Meanwhile, California-based photographer Trina McKillen addresses themes of beauty and ugliness, spirituality and profanity and life and death through her work. One of her photographs, ‘Composition #8,’ is the only photographic piece amongst the collection.
‘Scarlet Mist’ dominates another wall – an oil painting by Vietnamese Ti-a Thuy Nguyen. This piece was bought by McKillen at the 2018 Red Auction in Miami, all proceeds of which go to fighting AIDS in Africa. Finally, New York-based Jenny Holzer’s ‘Benghazi’ is a graphite and watercolour modification of previously censored US government documents in a brilliant shade of red.
The bar is designed by Bryan O’Sullivan – who continues to put his signature stamp on Maybourne drinking spots having designed The Berkeley Bar & Terrace, and The Painter’s Room, which recently opened at Claridge’s. O’Sullivan created the space as a ‘home within a home’ with the feel of a collector’s living room – the ultimate sanctuary in magnificent Mayfair.
Allowing the art to sing, the colour palette consists of soft creams, blush pinks and pearl blues. A runway of mosaic, hand-cut and hand-laid by Italian craftsmen, leads to two focal points – the bar itself in dazzling pink onyx complete with jewel-like moulded lamps, and the fireplace in striking Italian marble with intricate red veins. The latter is flanked by two vast glass panels in vivid reds and blues by British artist Brian Clarke – the only male exhibited in The Red Room.
The design forgoes club chairs for an eclectic mix of furniture, sourced and created to evoke the studied calm of a well-appointed sitting room. There is also a collection of small ceramics and objects d’art which will continuously evolve. Finally, a cocoon-like snug in ombre scarlet allows guests to sit in convivial anonymity under the glow of a giant antique pendant lamp.
O’Sullivan says, “My studio and I were honoured to be asked to work on yet another incredible bar for the Maybourne family, especially given the calibre of art that acted as the launch pad for our ideas. When designing the space we envisioned an eclectic art collector’s home. A space that feels elevated yet utterly relaxed.”
Murano glassware flecked with red; a sharp, white-jacketed bar team and the sounds of vintage Italian and French music combine to complete the ambience.
FOOD AND DRINK
Wine will be at the heart of The Red Room, with an impressive list that has been years in the making, overseen by Daniel Manetti, Director of Wine. The Connaught’s legendary wine cellar features over 3000 different labels and over 30,000 bottles, and this collection will be showcased in this new space.
A new Coravin system makes it possible to serve astonishing wines – from rare vintages to first growths – by the glass. Red heroes include a 1994 Petrus (the most famous Merlot in the world) and a 2011 Richebourg Grand Cru by the legendary Domaine de la Romanée-Conti – of which The Connaught has an impressive collection. The world’s most famous Chardonnay – a 2016 Montrachet Grand Cru, produced by Domaine Thenard – is also available to drink by the glass, alongside a 2018 Sauvignon Blanc from the esteemed Eisele Vineyards in the Napa Valley, one of the most celebrated vineyards in the US.
Two custom made trolleys – made from the same marble as the fireplace – have been crafted to decant and serve wine, and guests are able to visit the hotel’s wine cellar to explore.
A capsule list of six cocktails has been created by Agostino Perrone, Director of Mixology, inspired by the bar’s wine selection, and will change seasonally as the wine list evolves. Each cocktail features the wine that it is named after, with ‘Red’ and ‘White’ set to be The Red Room’s signature tipples.
A menu of charcuterie – featuring British cheeses and hand-carved hams – and small plates, including veal carpaccio, Gochuchang chicken oysters and kale tempura, has been designed to complement the wine list.
Affirming The Connaught’s status as one of London’s top destinations for bar and drink aficionados, The Red Room becomes the fourth bar at the hotel, joining The Connaught Bar – the world’s best bar – the intimate Coburg Bar overlooking Carlos Place and the elegant hideaway, The Champagne Room. The Red Room has 50 covers and opening hours are 4pm to midnight, Wednesday – Saturday.
Images courtesy The Connaught