Originally opened as Hotel Hotel in 2013, the rebranded Ovolo Nishi retains the original boutique lodging’s curated collection of design elements from the vintage chandeliers (salvaged from a 1930s Italian train station), to antique Egyptian chairs, and including wide range of artwork sourced from around the globe.
The Nishi Ovolo features a total of 68 rooms and six room types, spread across the first two floors. Rooms feature one-off furniture and artwork, such as wool tapestries, brass lights, buttery leather couches and salvaged oak beds. The largest room category, a Meandering Atrium, features a king-sized bed, separate sitting area and huge bathtub with free-standing concrete tub and twin rain showers.
The Nishi building has won various awards for its sustainable design. But the eco-centric ethos goes further: all water in the building is recycled using an ozone water system, rooms are fitted out with sensor lights, food is sourced locally and there’s barely any plastic packaging in sight.
When it first opened in 1924, the grain silo was the tallest building in Sub-Saharan Africa at 57 metres. An integral part of international trade in the region for almost 80 years, it closed in 2001. The Silo is located in the elevator tower of the original building.
The Silo’s most salient features are its multi-faceted convex windows, courtesy of industrial architect Thomas Heatherwick. Each window’s unique geometry is carefully calculated to enhance its perspective, and all of the hotel’s suites boast these floor-to-ceiling marvels.
The hotel’s corridors, rooms and communal spaces are adorned with impressive artworks from the continent’s greatest creative minds, such as Kenyan-born sculptor and photographer Cyrus Kabiru and Zimbabwean mixed media artist Kudzanai Chiurai. Biden, an avid art collector with a keen eye for the exquisite and somewhat unusual, has personally curated hundreds of masterpieces for the hotel.
Formerly the London headquarters of the Baptist Church, the Grade II-listed building shut its doors to parishioners in the 1960s. Today, following a six-year makeover overseen by national charity English Heritage, it has been reincarnated as a lavish 39-room hotel thanks to the genius of famed French décorateur Jacques Garcia.
The bones of the church have been conserved, from the carved fireplaces to the ornate stucco ceilings and terracotta panels depicting biblical scenes. This Baroque charm is augmented by sumptuous furnishings like velvet chaise lounges and plush carpets, rendered in jewel tones. Oscar Wilde – for whom the hotel is named – would’ve approved.
Lalique butterfly-wing taps adorn the bathrooms, while cupboards and headboards are embellished with peacock feather motifs. You’ll also find glass birds perched on the lighting fixtures throughout the property, including on the absolutely spectacular seven-floor chandelier.
This article was originally published in the October 2018 issue of SilverKris magazine