Perfect taste

By Jo Phillips

Yeah everyone says perfect taste is subjective, yet so many of us believe we have perfect taste, when of course reason quite simply says we can’t all have perfect taste. But it is fair to say sometimes we see things or go places and are a little blown away by just how divine that place or item is. And what about if that ‘perfect’ place has a perfect scent to accompany it whilst all the time being steeped in a little bit of literary history? A perfect coming together we may well think, find out more here in Perfect Taste.

Wind your way up towards the pictorial streets of the historical area that is Marylebone in central London. Notice, if you will, its fine houses, peer in through a window if you can and see buildings with exquisite interiors to boot. Interestingly this ancient parish was formed to serve the manors (landholdings) of what is now known as Lisson Grove in West London, and it is likely that it has been somehow on the London maps since at least the twelfth century.

Named after the church of St Mary’s originally it would have been known for raffish characters and even bear-baiting as well as, believe it or not, for duelling and fights between members of both sexes. The area now is characterised by elegant town houses set in clean grid pattern.

Gentrified, it makes for the perfect area to amble now as it is dotted with elegant squares, tall trees yet is a hop, skip and a jump from all the joys that central Westminster of London has to offer.

And it’s in these very street you may well come across and address that it turns out is a grade II listed home belonging formerly to the writer Jane Austin’s favourite brother, Henry.

Yet this town house as well as having rather amazing provence is also a place of ‘perfect’ taste, as well as being a treat full of a visual history, bought alive. Not a hotel and not a private club but think of it somewhere between a boutique space that can be utilised as a hotel, or a private hire event space, but most of all it’s a home from home.

Jane Austen as we are well aware, was an English novelist known primarily for her novels, which interpret, critique, and comment upon the British landed gentry at the end of the 18th century. Her use of biting irony, along with her realism, earned her acclaim alongside her exploration of women’s needs in her times, to marry purely for social standing and security.

So here is this genteel area stands a regal townhouse where Jane would have almost certainly have visited. Happily, the home has been recently fully restored into a townhouse for guests to stay in or book for events.

Perfectly curated to bring to life the history that seem built into the very wall and floorboards of the building this is a modern interpretation that goes beyond anything in way of average. It is in fact perfect in its feeling, its image and its ambience. It echoes the very aesthetics of the times most elegantly, whilst updates with every up to date spec needed.

The bedroom (all seven of them) of course with four poster beds shout out lie on me lie on me, and each bedroom has a unique character named after people offering a different accent of the original period.

All rooms of course come with en-suites, Egyptian sheets and towels, coffee machines, Tv’s, heating and air conditioning and all the modern comforts any guest would want, including a bottle of Bollinger on arrival should you just fancying a louche moment on one of those beds.

Very simply put the rooms are designed for ‘me time’ as much as an elegant place to rest ones head. Should guests want time to be by themselves they can work or rest in each unique bedroom space. but there are of course social spaces too.

As with the whole house colours, tones and textures are so beautifully put together so it’s even hard to truly notice just how well it has been done. Very much personally curated by the two owners Steven and Jane Collins (owners of the sister property in the Cotswolds, Temple Guiting Manor and Barns), the space is so balanced yet unique.

The walls are covered with art works some that are fitting with the wealth of the time and place, others because they simply fit so perfectly in their position. No rhyme or reason just perfect balance and it’s this level of surface, ease of design that lays the foundations to this exquisite home from home.

As well as the bedrooms find a sitting room, a snug and the kitchen known as the M. Halavant’s Pantry (the family chef at the time of the Austins) with low lighting to set the scene and a soft grey colour palette to match. Sit in here and have meals prepared (a chef can be booked) should that be your want, or cook for yourself should that be more your style.

The carriage snug a petite room (that leads out to the perfect breakfast terrace) befitting as a place to sip a cocktail, a spicy rum or a rich deep single malt and just happens to house a copy of the magazine, The Loiterer, that the original owner wrote and published himself.

Whilst the siting room called, of course, Janes Sitting Room is set up for nothing more glamorous than afternoon tea, evening aperitifs, or general elegant lounging. Or may be you could just sit down and write a book there?

Every aspect of this home from home has been painstakingly worked through. Notice the odd stunning antique sitting quietly in its place, doing its work adding to the atmosphere, quietly minding its own business. Utterly sophisticated yet warming and enticing the space leaves nothing undone. Built ultimately, for clients individual needs with live in staff when required. And just when you thought about how the rooms were scented, worry not, that has also been thought through.

The company has created six bespoke candles to captivate and elude the very essence of the home, hand finished in ceramic creamy white bisque containers with black silhouettes so fashionable in the regency period, decorate the front of each. The suitably original blends are another facet that brings the heritage of the house alive and yet again have been handled with flair and taste.

Working with a French perfumer to curate these scents, the six are made up of firstly, a general one named Henrys Townhouse; an amber and sandalwood fragrance. Find a fiery pepper and aromatic eucalyptus top falling into and heady heart of divine earthy powdery iris and musky sandalwood with the final flourish in its base from warm vanilla to bring a touch of sweetness; its thinking to reflects the sandalwood worn as scent in Regency England.

Next comes The Carriage Sung candle accents of rum bring this room alive so this scent opens with calming lavender sitting with refreshing notes of bergamot which counter the rum, whilst the middle sinks into floral heaven via rose iris and ‘rooty’ vetiver finalising in warmth from musk and leather; the perfect fit for this space.

Of course the little outside space is caught up in a floral scent but like everything else its in this home has its own unique personality. Find in Marylebone Blooms bergamot and green tea laced with citrus lemon vanilla tones and jasmine, orange and even orchid flowers. Fruity floral and befitting of time and place.

Next up meet Bohea which is a nod to tea and the fashion of the well to do of the time ‘taking tea’ . It comes bursting also with fig. It opens again with fresh bergamot added to the darker notes of well travelled black teas creating a very evocative scent of the ladies of the day.

The pantry offers up resins with spices of course so in Monsieur Halavant’s pantry find top notes of pine resin sparkling zest of bergamot contrasting with spicy warm cinnamon, following into cedarwood and amber with earthy musk to finish, grounded and gourmand all at the same time.

Lastly but by no means least find The Loiterer, of course a perfumed reprise of The magazine and of a library all woods and leather. It opens with fresh green violet leaf going into exclusive saffron giving off honey tones then comes leather and suede notes for the warmth of a day spent reading and learning from the greatest books.

Ultimately this house follows no rules, it explodes with the most refined of tastes, of lives lived and travelled people that understand the needs of their guests. The attention to detail is astonishing and is bought to the fore with the candles, each as distich as the room and as original as the space. Not one single scent is obvious but then nothing here is.

Because after all what is good taste really? Often it is about brave originality, true individuality and most of all a bit of the flare for the dramatic, which sums up nicely both the scents and look of the house.

For more information on Henrys townhouse 24 Upper Berkeley Street please go Here

If you enjoyed reading perfect taste then why not read about the french Film Autumn of life here

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