London’s most exotic place to stay, the heartbreakingly beatiful suite in Alec Guinness’s favourite old haunt

The Connaught's Mughal-inspired King’s Lodge is intricate, spectacular, and enlessly romantic. Rosie Paterson went to take a look.

Sir Alec Guinness (The Lavender Hill Mob, Lawrence of Arabia, Doctor Zhivago, and yes, Obi Wan Kenobi in Star Wars) was so fond of The Connaught that the hotel ensured a suite was always at his disposal. From the 1970s until his death in 2000, the actor could often be found holding court in the hotel’s Grill restaurant.

If he were checking in now, it would surely be to The King’s Lodge, The Connaught’s newest suite, with its Mughal-inspired design.

The room is a collaboration between Guy Oliver, The Connaught’s legacy designer, and Turquoise Mountain, a charity founded by The King in 2006 that supports artisans working in Afghanistan, Myanmar and the Middle East.

In 2010, the same partnership worked on the hotel’s The Prince’s Lodge, designed in a style inspired by the 19th-century Peacock Palace in the city of Kabul, Afghanistan.

Recommended videos for you

Clad almost entirely in walnut jali fretwork, a type of woodwork found across Afghanistan, the suite also features marble panels carved by specialists descended from the Mughal court, miniature works of art that point to the first Mughal emperor’s (Bābur) love of gardening and burnt orange, chevron textiles.

The zig-zag motif once adorned Mughal columns. It’s an astonishing feat of global collaboration, with a portion of the proceeds of every booking going back to Turquoise Mountain.

The King’s Lodge at The Connaught costs from £2,000 a night —

The Connaught’s staircase

If you shun the lift and take the cantilevered wooden staircase — The King’s Lodge is on the fifth floor — you’ll spot a portrait of a horse, on each half-turn, facing you as you descend and a portrait of a dog facing you as you ascend. It’s a nod to the hotel’s origins (it described itself as ‘the hotel for the best county families’ in an advert placed inside the December 7, 1901, issue of Country Life), when families staying at The Connaught would expect to leave on horseback and return to a dog.