London Calling

Jacu Strauss, Creative Director of Lore Group in London, shares where to find inspiration in his adopted city.

By Katie Bianco

Jacu Strauss is the design mind behind luxury hotel group Lore Group. Step into any of the London-based company’s hotels (Sea Containers and One Hundred Shoreditch in London, Pulitzer in Amsterdam, and Riggs and Lyle in Washington, DC) and you’ll see his creative stamp. But if you’ve seen one of his hotels, you most definitely haven’t seen them all. He spent his childhood in the Kalahari Desert in South Africa in what he describes as a “very rural” upbringing, but left to pursue a career in architecture at 18, living and working in both London and New Zealand (and traveling during his formative years). After several years working and studying under designer Tom Dixon in London, he landed at Lore, where his hotels are never done (“I always say hotels are never finished. They’re living things”). 

Now living in London permanently since 2006 (though he has a country house he retreats to), Strauss first arrived as a student–and fell in love with the city.  

“As soon as I landed, I realized [London] is big and it’s busy and it moves faster than I thought,” Strauss recalls.” Coming from the desert I had to adapt quickly. But there’s nothing more delightful than when you first discover a city. You don’t get it twice. It only happens once.”

With such enthusiasm for London, Strauss was the obvious choice for Luxeicon’s latest Passport. Here, we chat with him about all the best things to do and see in the British capital.

What is it about London that makes it feel like home? 

It works with my lifestyle. This is my theory about London: You have the best of both worlds. You can either be part of all the energy. You can go out and socialize and be part of the action, there’s just so much happening. Or you can retreat within the city and actually have some private time as well. So it’s amazing having this choice based on your moods. You can adapt to that. 

As a designer, where are you shopping? 

For home decor, I love antiques and vintage items. There’s something called Alfies Antique Market. It’s a market with loads of small antique dealers, some of them sell jewelry as well, but it’s just full of treasures. Treasures from all eras. Pimlico Road is famous for all of its upscale antique shops. For me, it’s often  just window shopping. I don’t always get to buy something. But the curation is really amazing, so even if you just want to browse, it’s just so beautifully put together. And there’s a little market there on Saturdays so you can buy some lovely bread.

There’s also another area where I used to live near Notting Hill. Golborne Road and they have similar antique shops and quirky shops and restaurants. I’m always hunting for things.

Then for something more mainstream there are two department stores … Liberty, it’s just a gorgeous building and it showcases beautiful things that make great gifts. And then there’s a bigger department store called Selfridges, which is much more well known. They also have a great curator experience. They bring in so many different designers, big and small, and they put it together so beautifully. When you shop for things you can see someone who’s crafting something in their garage probably next to a much bigger brand. So it’s quite nice for people to have a platform in a space like that. 

Tell us your favorite day trip from London.

My big love is National Heritage buildings, so it’s big houses with beautiful grounds. There’s one called Cliveden. It’s a really nice drive there. Then there’s a restaurant with beautiful grounds. Another trip I did recently is to the new Restoration Hardware. They bought this beautiful old house, and it’s part of their showroom, but they’ve curated it so beautifully. It’s in the Cotswolds which is this beautiful part of England. That is definitely a day trip worth doing. I was really blown away.  

If you were to have visitors in town, where would you take them?

One immediate thing that comes to mind, and I do take people there religiously when they come, it’s my favorite museum in London: Sir John’s Soane Museum. [Soane] was an architect in the 1800s, and his own house has been preserved as a museum.  He was a massive collector, which resonates with me because I can’t stop collecting stuff, I have so many busts myself. It’s just a beautifully presented museum. It’s really small, but I love seeing his collection in a very domestic setting. That really resonates with me with what I do with my hotels. You really feel it was a person’s home. Everyone I’ve taken there, they’ve all loved it.

There’s another museum in an area of London called Holland Park. The house is called Leighton House. It’s this very grand, proper Victorian house, but the inside is completely Moroccan. He loved all of these beautiful tiles, where at the time would have been so exotic, and transformed his house inside into this amazing Moroccan interior. It’s beautiful, so colorful and vibrant. I like domestic scale. 

What are some of your favorite restaurants in London? 

London is so full of restaurants that come and go, but I tend to lean more towards the more established ones. First, there are some amazing pubs in London. They’re so democratic, rich or poor, it doesn’t matter who you are, everyone comes together. There are some around where I live that have amazing food as well. There’s one called The Thomas Cubitt, who was the engineer who designed a lot of the area I lived in. It’s a nice date night because it’s quite casual and there’s a nice energy to it.

But some of the more established restaurants, there’s one called Scotts Mayfair. It’s old school, but it just really works. 

For breakfast, there’s a couple Australian-style breakfast restaurants. There’s a company called Granger and Co on Pavilion Road. It’s this beautiful street, my favorite butcher is there. I go for breakfast then I pick up some delicious steaks. Granger does this spectacular scrambled eggs. 

Where are you finding your creative inspiration in London?

I never go looking for it so much, but I’m always observing my surroundings. But what makes London so amazing, it’s so diverse and it’s impossible to see everything. I’m constantly discovering new areas – well not constantly because sometimes you don’t explore enough. London is just full of quirks and history and it’s still a living thing that’s still evolving with old and new next to each other … so I find inspiration just through exploring new areas and looking at how people live. That’s also a great indication of us and what we like and what we do. 

What neighborhood could you spend an entire day in?

I used to live in Notting Hill for 10 years. It has so much to offer. It’s so diverse. It’s a neighborhood where it’s a mix of people with different backgrounds having a good time. But it’s also next to Kensington Gardens where you can have a really amazing picnic, and that’s one of things I love about London – just going to royal parks and having a picnic. Even during the pandemic, when I lived in Notting Hill and I was stuck at home most of the time and we were allowed to meet a few people in the park, it was one of those moments where I realized how much I love london. People were so well behaved, people were having a good time, but it was all so respectful. And I realized that all you need to have a good time is a nice bottle of wine, your friends and maybe something to eat. It was a beautiful summer’s day. It was just magical. 

I love Notting HIll because there’s so much variety of what to do and then you can also have all the energy from Portobello Road, which gets a bit crazy on the market days. There’s always something happening. 

Finally, what’s the best place to spot a royal? 

The Goring Hotel. It was a favorite of the late Queen. And it’s very close to Buckingham Hotel. That’s where you’re most likely to see someone popping down from the palace. A friend of mine had dinner there a few years ago and the Queen just turned up. There is always a chance you’ll run into them. There’s also a big department store near where I live, nothing fancy, it’s just called Peter Jones. A friend of mine worked there, and now the Princess of Wales popped in there one morning to buy some household goods. 

Best Place for Self Care

I am very privileged to have a spa in our hotel, Sea Containers. It’s so amazing and whenever I want to treat myself I have a facial or a massage there at agua. The director of the spa has been with us for a long time and she’s just so knowledgeable. It’s phenomenal. 

If you had to pick a favorite of your hotels in London: Sea Container or One Hundred Shoreditch?
Sea Containers for cocktails at Lyaness and One Hundred Shoreditch for cocktails on the roof.

There’s another museum in an area of London called Holland Park. The house is called Leighton House. It’s this very grand, proper Victorian house, but the inside is completely Moroccan. He loved all of these beautiful tiles, where at the time would have been so exotic, and transformed his house inside into this amazing Moroccan interior. It’s beautiful, so colorful and vibrant. I like domestic scale. 

More Stories

Creating Connections

Something about 2024 feels at once familiar and new. Is this the year we finally get on with it and start to feel like ourselves again? Pantone says it’s the year of Peach Fuzz, a color that is meant to signify connection and compassion.

  • Jan.2024

Peach Buzz

Luxeicon’s resident ‘cool girl’ Mosha Lundström Halbert shares her–and her fashionable mother’s–insights into Pantone’s 2024 Color of the Year.

  • Jan.2024

In Town

From DC’s creative cosmos exhibition at Artechouse to the always delicious South Beach Food & Wine Fest, here’s where you’ll find us this winter.

  • Jan.2024

In the News

From Cirque du Soleil flying through the air on The Today Show to a Washington Post rave for Casa Theresa, our clients took center stage as 2023 wrapped up.

  • Jan.2024