The Sunday Telegraph - Sunday
Chateau Denmark ‘I don’t even know if it’s a hotel’
Mark C O’Flaherty finds himself bemused (and confused) by this baroque newcomer to London’s Tin Pan Alley
WMy room had a red bathtub, mock-croc flooring, and a ‘maxibar’ of full-sized bottles
here to start? Let’s begin with that rating out of 10 (see panel, below), which is somewhat arbitrary because you can’t really score Chateau Denmark as you would a normal hotel. To some people, this place is a 10. To others, a zero. Me? I don’t even know if it’s a hotel. It doesn’t have a lobby, per se, and doesn’t do breakfast.
At first, it seems to be an annexe to something soul-sapping that has landed next to Centrepoint, calling itself Outernet – a live music venue with giant LED screens that wrap around its facade, finished off with gold grilles, like a midrange shopping mall in Dubai.
It’s the final nail in the coffin for a part of the city fatally wounded by Crossrail. They closed down the glorious Astoria in 2009, and what was supposed to be a straightforward development of the corner intersection of Soho and Bloomsbury was dragged out to the timescale of Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia.
But here we are. It’s done, the trains are ready to run… and, predictably, it all looks awful. But the Outernet is, at least, a new music venue rather than another American sweet shop, and around the back there is still a relatively intact Denmark Street – London’s Tin Pan Alley of pop and rock history fame – where you will find, scattered in a variety of buildings on either side, the 55 various component rooms that make up Chateau Denmark.
Whose idea was all this, I wonder? Chateau Denmark is like a cheap, seaside theme hotel intended for dirty weekends, maxed out in terms of budget and amenities. My room had a red bathtub, mock-croc flooring, and a “maxi-bar” stocked with dozens of full-sized bottles of premium booze. If someone else was picking up the tab, and you fancied them enough, you could do far worse than receive an “everyone back to mine” invitation here at one o’clock in the morning.
Throw off the black pleather bolster pillows and you are left with a great big comfortable bed, big enough for three. Or four, probably. Each room has a neon sign outside that reads “IN” when set to “Do not disturb” mode, or “SINNING” as a default. And the rooms aren’t bedrooms, they are “session rooms”, named either in homage to the various rock luminaries who cut records in tiny studios along here in the past, or because you are probably checking in for a… session, of sorts. You choose.
On arriving at what the little blue dot on Google Maps told me was the right location for Chateau Denmark, I was pounced upon by Freddie, who has taken on the mantle of the closest thing there is to a physical reception. Freddie is full of enthusiasm and covered in brocade. His coat is reminiscent of Prince at his most paisley-fixated, with shoulder pads straight out of The Fifth Element.
He took me to my room on the third floor of No 9, above what used to be La Gioconda – a café frequented by David Bowie and Elton John back in the day – but is now a branch of Flat Iron, the chain steakhouse for millennials. While the interiors of these buildings are now unrecognisable from yesteryear, there is still a roughness to the higgledy-piggledy staircases and room layouts that harks back to what once was.
Next to my maxi-bar and bathtub was a miniature doorway to a shower room covered in black gloss tiles, with two purple and gold robes hanging up. The branding at Chateau Denmark features a motif of a winged demon. Hail, Satan, et cetera. The skull-covered wallpaper is more than a little inspired by the Rorschach-style work of Scottish designers Timorous Beasties, while the wardrobes and headboard details are a Catholic gothic fantasia, with an underlit crucifix attached to the top of the former. My room also had a giant chandelier set around a brass sculpture of a pineapple, on which I nearly concussed myself.
Despite what all of this sounds like, there is nothing camp about Chateau Denmark. Its brand of debauchery is decidedly hetero. It’s a mix of 1980s Guns N’ Roses hair metal and Meat Loaf rock opera. I sort of hated it, sort of loved it. While the Outernet is everything worth hating about the 2020s, Chateau Denmark might just be what this part of London needs right now – as long as you approach it in the right spirit.
If you can remember how you got here, you’ve done it all wrong.
Doubles from £510. There are three fully accessible rooms