100 years on, art deco still captures the hearts of aesthetes everywhere — and London's a darb place to find it. Here's how to eat, sleep and live your best art deco life in the capital.
Prefer cooing over whacking great slabs of concrete while listening to Kraftwerk? What you're after is How To Eat, Sleep And Breathe Brutalism In London.
Dine in an art deco restaurant
There are ample opportunities to dine in deco surroundings around London but for our money, Piccadilly's Brasserie Zédel is the bee's knees, and has some excellent value plates too. Enjoy the three-course prix fixe menu for £16 while admiring deco architect Oliver Percy Bernard's marble and gold trimmed interiors of what was The Regent Palace Hotel. The whole basement area was restored to its former glory in 2004, including the adjoining Bar Américain, where they'll serve you a 1934 Cosmopolitan.
Admire art deco architecture
For guided walks around town, taking in some of the finest deco architecture (and unobserved bits and pieces you've probably passed by dozens of times), Yannick Pucci is your man. From the obvious splendour of the West End to the less-appreciated Jazz Age buildings of Whitechapel, Pucci hosts a slew of guided art deco tours, which will have you falling in love with geometrical gems left, right and centre. Check out the London Art Deco Tours website. For going it alone, this art deco map of London is a must-have, and you can sniff out lesser-known deco buildings with the help of A Guide to Modernism in Metro-Land.
Buy art deco things
If you want to fill your home with art deco antiques, a trip to The Old Cinema in Chiswick is a must; bevelled mirrors, Italian walnut armchairs, silver plated cocktail shakers — even antique cinema seats — pass through here. Of course, as this stuff is the real deal, it's going to cost you. Eltham Palace — an art deco beaut in south east London — occasionally hosts deco fairs, too. The palace itself is also essential viewing for any deco head.
Catch a train from an art deco tube station
Along the Piccadilly and Northern lines (and a little bit of the Central too), there are a slew of deco tube stations curved and angled in a way that'll make your heart skip a beat. Many are the handiwork of Charles Holden, who we hold in such high regard, we made a map of his stations. All that's left for you to do is choose your fave. Ours is Uxbridge. Or is it Southgate? Or Gants Hill...
Sip cocktails in an art deco bar
A shoo-in for a tipple is the Savoy's American Bar; with its sleek chrome bar, Cole Porter songs tinkling on the ivories, and roaring 20s cocktails — many taken from the Savoy's own recipe book — it's one of the best art deco joints in town. Fontaine's in Stoke Newington is the cat's pyjamas too; lounge beneath its golden palm trees, slurp an Aviation and be entertained by the house band every Thursday night.
Watch films in an art deco cinema
The Phoenix opened at the dawn of the Jazz Age in 1910, then underwent a chic makeover during the finals days of the era, in 1938. That's when it gained its golden art deco panels featuring embossed masks, swords and other such theatrical jazz, designed by Mollo and Egan. They sometimes screen classic Hollywood films here — the perfect addition to your day out. You may well arrive by way of East Finchley station, which has its own art deco masterpiece.
Swim in an art deco pool
London may not have indoor pools with quite the 1920/30s pizzazz as those in, say Paris or Berlin. But it does do an excellent lido, and Brockwell Lido in south London is a tour de force of the genre. The 50-metre pool is ensconced in unassuming, low-lying brick with a symmetry Wes Anderson would be proud of, crested with the hills of Brockwell Park behind. Cool off here in the summer, and devour pizza at the poolside cafe when it's too chilly to take a dip.
Go to an art deco airport
During the 1930s, Croydon had one of the busiest airports in the world — welcoming Hollywood royalty like Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford, and flying aces of the day like Charles Lindbergh and Amy Johnson. The flights, alas, have long dried up, but every first Sunday of the month, you can take a tour of the glorious art deco terminal and air traffic control tower, and imagine all those Imperial Airways flights that used to swoop in and out.
Party like it's the art deco era
The bright young things of the day knew how to get down, and Candlelight Club is your chance to go back in time for a taste of the scene. Punters are urged to dress as flappers, gangsters, molls, degenerate aristos, decadent aesthetes or corrupt politicians for this Prohibition-era speakeasy. Swinging jazz bands and punch-packing cocktails will have you dancing round the table. Golly.
Sleep in an art deco hotel
If you're really pushing the boat out, you might consider a stay in one of London's swankier deco hotels. The Savoy, Claridge's and the Wellesley are all perfect for splashing serious cash. Mayfair's five-star Beaumont, built in 1926 and staying true to the age with its current interiors, is another orgy of deco decadence; its Le Magritte bar and adjoining lounge are particularly swell.