This pub in Henley has been remodeled by one of the world’s finest hoteliers

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Grace Leo has to be one of the most elegant hoteliers in the world, responsible for some of its best hotels and resorts. I was lucky enough to stay in the lovely Marlene Dietrich suite at the Lancaster Hotel in Paris, which Grace brought back to life in 1996, and its beauty has never left me. In the same city, she was also responsible for avant-garde Montalembert, the first design hotel in Europe, inspired by Ian Schrager’s Morgans and Royalton in New York. Other projects she has been consulted on, from conception and design to management and marketing, have been the Cotton House in Mustique, the Vidago Palace in Portugal and the Ten Trinity Square at Four Seasons in London, among so many others.

Grace was born in Hong Kong, the daughter of a hotelier, studied at Stanford and Cornell universities in the United States and lived for many years in Paris. Now, having moved to oversee Ten Trinity Square, she is based in London and, to my amazement, her latest project is not a distant palace or a heavenly seaside resort, but an acclaimed former coaching inn, lately used to housing the homeless. , in Henley.

The Red Lion is a beautiful old building on the Thames side with roots dating back to the mid-15th century and guests have included King Charles (his frescoed coat of arms is kept above the fireplace in Room 108) . Overlooking the courtyard is the charming pale yellow, almost Disney-esque chantry house dating from 1461, the ground floor of which is used for hotel offices and the upper floors, from whose windows one can often hear the practice of the choir, belong to the monument Sainte-Marie church next door. The 40-room set is the first of a new group of English waterfront hotels from Grace and her business partner, Singapore-based shipping tycoon Tim Hartnoll called Relais Retreats.


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