Dozens of hardback tomes, as big and sturdy as a fleet of family Bibles on steroids, line theatrically lit shelves. Banquette sofas fill one corner of the double-height room, which is cushioned underfoot by a plush Persian rug. A barman is slinging cocktails behind a polished mahogany bar, and on this particular night—a special event for the luxurious Aman resorts—waiters are circulating with bijoux nibbles.
And, oh yes, a nude, nubile nymph pores over the pages of a book in the midst of it all.
Maison Assouline, which occupies its own mini-mansion at 196A Piccadilly in central London, is ostensibly a bookstore.
But I assure you, my friends, this is not your granny’s Waterstones.
It’s the flagship store for Assouline, which began printing handsome, graphically dynamic books on fashion, art, architecture, photography, design, and travel more than twenty years ago.
Now the company, run by the husband and wife team of Prosper and Martine Assouline, have expanded their vision to become purveyors of eclectic elegance, with a carefully edited collection of furnishings and accessories on display in a sanguine sanctuary upstairs.
From a gold-leafed screen to a Chinoiserie table, tribal mask, or miniature bronze rhino—de rigueur accessories for any Knightsbridge library, or indeed, a sultan’s den—are for sale in Maison Assouline’s cabinet of curiosities.
While we can’t all afford to recreate the same atmosphere at home, we can at least stop in for a taste of Assouline’s distinctive lifestyle. “You can chill, sit on the sofa, read books, have a drink or something to eat, and just have a good time,” sales consultant Besma Ali explains with a smile. “Everyone is super welcome here.”
For more info on living the good life with Aman, which has more than 30 resorts, hotels and private residences scattered around Europe, Asia, Africa, the Caribbean and the USA, visit https://www.aman.com.