On the eve of this decade, when predictions of “the new Roaring Twenties” were being bandied about, few could have guessed that the world would alter so rapidly in just a few short months. In the light of Covid-19, the promise of a new hedonistic age during which we celebrate life and liberty, just as those who lived through World War I did, with jazz, cocktails and the Charleston, seems more seductive than ever. Some of the grand dames that catered to the party-goers of a century ago remain in business, and where better to check in to when we’re free to travel again? Claridge’s, London Having opened in the 19th century, Claridge’s was embraced by the Bright Young Things of 1920s London, who came to drink, dine and dance. Basil Ionides, a champion of the art deco style after visiting the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts in Paris, in 1925, after which the phrase was coined, worked with fellow British architect Oswald Milne to remodel the hotel in the new style. Revolving doors, elaborate metalwork, lacquer and backlit glass panels were introduced to the entrance and foyer. Milne went on to add a bedroom wing and ballroom in the art deco design. A more recent refurbishment of the hotel has seen the addition of a 1920s-inspired Claridge’s Bar and an update of the Fumoir, the latter (home to discerning drinkers since 1929) featuring engraved mirror panels bearing Ionides’ signature. Claridge’s is due to reopen to staying guests on September 7. Amid the pandemic, it hosted National Health Service staff working at the nearby St Mary’s Hospital. The hotel’s kitchen staff provided daily packed meals for health workers and support teams across the British capital, and thousands of Claridge’s guest room amenities, including toiletries and on-pillow chocolates, were donated to hospitals. Umaid Bhawan Palace, Jodhpur When Maharaja Umaid Singh commissioned this mammoth palace in 1928, to give work to the local people who were facing famine and drought, he was aware of art deco style. While the architecture is that of “a temple-mountain palace” (albeit incorporating bird and animal Hindu motifs in art deco style), the interiors are another story. Art deco furnishings from Maples of London had been fashionable with the Indian elite since the early 20s, and so Maples was commissioned to provide furniture and fittings for the palace, but the treasured cargo never reached Rajasthan, the ship carrying it sinking off the coast of Africa. Undeterred, the maharaja appointed local craftsman to complete the task. The results can still be seen throughout the hotel’s guest rooms and suites. Most striking is the pink-and-black Maharani suite (complete with pink marble bath) and the circular subterranean swimming pool. And the maharaja’s philanthropic spirit endures, too. The hotel is now part of the Taj Hotels group and throughout the pandemic, the Taj Public Service Welfare Trust has been providing meals to medical staff at nearby hospitals and to those in need. Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc, Antibes This hotel was an enclave for the Jazz Age set and was immortalised in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Tender is the Night (1934) as Gausse’s Hotel des Etrangers. Setting his novel in 1925, Fitzgerald wrote of the hotel, “Lately it has become a summer resort of notable and fashionable people.” The French Riviera had been a popular destination for winter only until wealthy American couple Gerald and Sara Murphy persuaded the then Hotel du Cap to stay open beyond April, in 1923. Over the subsequent summers, they were joined by Fitzgerald and his wife, Zelda, Ernest Hemingway, Cole Porter and assorted artists and writers of America’s post-war “Lost Generation”. In the Esquire magazine article “Show Mr and Mrs F to Number …”, detailing the couples’ hotel forays throughout the 20s, Fitzgerald also wrote about “The Hotel du Cap at Antibes”, reminiscing of their stay in 1924, “from the great mats our friends had spread along the terrace we warmed our sunburned backs and invented new cocktails”. The notable and fashionable continue to flock to the hotel, now part of the Oetker Collection, particularly during the Cannes Film Festival (before being cancelled, this year’s event was scheduled for May 12-23). For the full Fitzgerald experience, check into the Eden-Roc Pavilion – the curvaceous, white ocean liner-style art deco building next to the swimming pool. Fairmont Peace Hotel, Shanghai As a legendary decadent hot spot during the 20s, Shanghai became known as “the Paris of the East”. For architecture, though, it looked not to Europe but to America, and the art deco skyscrapers of Chicago and New York. New status-flashing structures sprung up on the Bund. They were largely financed by Victor Sassoon, then the richest man in Shanghai. Most glamorous of all was the Cathay Hotel, where Sassoon lived in the penthouse, beneath the green pyramid roof (now bookable as the Presidential Suite), where he threw fabulous parties. Opened in 1929, the Cathay featured such novelties as air conditioning, in-house telephones and lifts, setting dizzyingly high new standards for luxury in the city. The hotel quickly became the most fashionable place to stay in Shanghai. Charlie Chaplin and Marlene Dietrich were among those to check in. In 1930, Noel Coward finished writing the play Private Lives in room 314 while laid up with the flu. World War II and the Chinese civil war put an end to the Cathay, which reopened as the Peace Hotel in the 50s. When Fairmont bought the faded property in 2007, the group set about an impressive three-year restoration, bringing the art deco spirit back to the hotel. First introduced by Sassoon in the 30s – and put on pause during the pandemic – the iconic tea dances staged in the Jasmine Lounge are expected to resume this month. The Carlyle, New York Amid the American city’s building boom and newly acquired appetite for skyscrapers, plans began in the late 20s for this art deco tower on the Upper East Side. Society decorator of the day, Dorothy Draper, was commissioned to create its interiors. Opened as a residential hotel (The Carlyle still includes apartments), one of the first tenants was Richard Rodgers, who composed several hit musicals on Broadway in the 20s and went on to form a famous writing partnership with Oscar Hammerstein. Due to the Wall Street crash of 1929, The Carlyle’s initial incarnation was short-lived, but it re-emerged to become a favourite with presidents, royalty and celebrities (JFK infamously met Marilyn Monroe here, the American president allegedly smuggling the film star in through the kitchens). The hotel is currently in the midst of a phased refresh under the direction of Tony Chi – who also designed the Rosewood Hong Kong and Rosewood Hotel Group owner Henry Cheng Kar-shun’s Hong Kong home. Chi has been steadily updating the bedrooms while retaining the elegant art deco essence. Although the refurb has been put on hold during the Covid-19 lockdown, The Carlyle’s Bemelmans jazz bar will be a fitting place in which to quaff martinis to celebrate the resumption of travel. Azerai La Residence, Hue The striking white lines and curves of La Residence are a superb example of streamline moderne art deco architecture. Such structures, with their nautical details, are associated with European seaside resorts and Miami South Beach but, in this case, the waterway is Vietnam’s Perfume River. The centrepiece of the hotel is a historic mansion built as the residence of the French governor in 1930, on the opposite side of the river from the Imperial City. Two new art deco-style wings were added in 2005, when La Residence became a hotel. The hotel is now in the hands of Adrian Zecha, the founder of Aman Resorts and (the more affordable) Azerai brand. The bright white of the facade has become a more muted “ash beige”, the spa has been extended and upgraded, and all the guest rooms in the two annexes renovated. Art deco furniture remains in the public areas, though, as well as in a handful of heritage suites in the main building. The piece de resistance is the Resident Suite, which spans the entire top, curved floor of the original mansion, veranda with a 360-degree view included. These suites, too, are earmarked for a spruce up, but one trusts their charm will be retained.