Worlds first luxury boutique hotel

World’s first luxury boutique hotel: Blakes Hotel London

I had the pleasure of photographing Blakes Hotel, worlds first luxury boutique hotel this year. I have to admit that boutique hotel photography is my favorite. Often when you are working for bigger brands I am restricted by franchise guidelines that limit my creativity. Blakes hotel was extra special since it is considered by many to be the worlds first luxury boutique hotel.

The first luxury boutique Hotel London was created in 1978 by the world renowned designer Anouska Hempel and is known to be the world’s first luxury boutique hotel. Based in South Kensington, it is famous for its design, service, and privacy. Recognized for the dark color of the facade, it occupies a group of Victorian Houses, the main ones being the Blakes and Benzies.

Blakes Hotel London is a seductive design journey through India, China, Indonesia, Thailand, Cambodia and on to the Pyramids, back through Italy ending up in the heart of London. An elegant, eclectic, ethnic picture reflected in the abundance and luxury of accessories, furniture, and artifacts found all over the world by Anouska Hempel herself over the many years of her far-flung travels. It evokes past and current intrigues and dark mysteries.


The ‘Opium Den’ that is The Chinese Room, sits next to the critically acclaimed restaurant adorned in luxurious soft furnishings and a myriad of slipper orchids where candles and books are in profusion, stacked high on the squat tables waiting for guests to leaf through their exotic pages. Chinese ancestors smile knowingly down from the walls, black lacquer trays, and colorful canapés gives the perfect background for the gentle and elegant service that glides unobtrusively from room to room giving the most discreet attention one could ever wish for. Yet at the same time, the place is busy, bustling, bohemian and beautiful. The room itself is the epitome of decadence and comfort dedicated to the likes of Chanel and Dietrich and is the place to be before or after enjoying the delights of an evening in London. Marlene herself is rumored to appear under certain lights and influences leaning seductively on the piano.


The bar is also hugely popular with London’s fashionable ‘it’ crowd who regularly pop in for a sharpener! The restaurant walls are exotically layered with fans, made from the feathers of rare birds from exotic climes such as Brazil and the Ecuadorian rainforests. Tables are adorned with the finest appointments however nothing can overshadow the cuisine which like the décor draws its inspiration from all corners of the globe. As you gallop up the stairs three at a time you may find yourself in the La Carmona suite, with Japanese Shuijo Horses corralled over your head and at the foot of your bed. Ginger Louis Vuitton trunks sit around retired for the moment from globetrotting.


Blakes Hotel London rooms are dramatic interpretations of deep, rich tones and subtle contrasts and the compositions are startling, luxurious and operatic. What might have easily slipped into being ‘over the top’ is somehow neither too saccharine nor too precious. Rather, these interiors are fascinating exercises in design imagination, choreographed by the masterly eye of Anouska Hempel herself.

With a top-class concierge and room service running day and night, your every last wish is their command. With nonsense and happiness around the clock, Blakes is a romantic whirlwind from the minute you step through the door. So full of fantasy and so full of fun you are guaranteed to have a great time!

Around each corner, there is a surprise and the chance to discover more of the mystery and magic that has been created here. If the term ‘Design Hotel’ means attention to detail and the entire aesthetic experience then Blakes London veritably deserves that title. Hempel’s motto: Design, Refine, Repeat, on an individual level.

Blakes Hotel London endeavors to work in close association with Anouska Hempel Design in delivering a world-class experience both in Architecture and Design creativity.

More Resources

About Antonio

Antonio Cuellar is a commercial photographer who specializes in capturing the architecture and lifestyle of the world's most luxurious hotels and resorts.