Off-beat London design studio The Curious Department's product range is inspired by nature, and includes prints, ceramics and taxidermy with an opulence-meets-eccentricity vibe. So it's no surprise that their Borough Airbnb apartment - dubbed The Curious Apartment (TCA) - has a break-the-rules feel and is teeming with wildlife.
With Airbnb, you stay in a home from home. But TCA takes things a step further: not only is their beautiful flat a cosy, fabulous, fascinating base in the Big Smoke, it's also a shop from home. Here, the curated selection of curios on display is actually available to buy, after you've seen how to style it. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay at TCA, which, for once, is actually better in real life than the photos. Why did I love it? Grab a cuppa and I'll tell you...
1) Best! Welcome pack! Ever!
As they might say on Paw Patrol, if the Pups stayed in an Airbnb prior to Saving The Day/finding Time To Play in Adventure Bay. I really must get out more. The TCA pack not only describes exactly where to find the apartment, with photo accompaniment, it's also an actual work of art. Plus there are plenty of suggestions for things to do in the area, and useful info on local shops, etc. Other Airbnb landlords, take note!
2) The Curious Kitchen
None of your three teabags and a tin of powdered milk in this apartment. Nope; the Curious Kitchen contains a regular smorgasbord of delights, to which you are encouraged to help yourself. Among many other edibles, I discovered the following in the Curious Cupboards: Twinings sleep tea, strawberry milkshake mix, silver ball cake toppers, mixed mushrooms in a jar, berry granola, morello cherries, madeira cake mix, Ferrero Rocher, and mushy peas. As you can imagine, I had quite the dinner.
3) The gallery walls of inspo
Some people just know how to throw a gallery wall together, without it looking like your three-year-old chucked some art at the wall. And those people have decorated TCA. I love how they've stuck to a theme of vintage-style nature illustrations, then used a combo of black and white frames. Adding actual greenery into the mix helps bring the scene to life.
4) The greenery
If TCA was trying to prove that greenery's not just for the garden, they've succeeded. As well as the real palm and cheeseplant framing the gallery walls, there's a faux tree next to the dining table, a faux ivy trailing down the fridge, and loads of little succulents and cactuses dotted around the flat, including in the bathroom. Mixing up real and faux is something I do at home too; having a few real plants in the mix makes the faux ones look like they're living. And when I kill all the real plants, the faux ones still bring a bit of the outside in.
5) The Ikea edit
On a recent trip to flatpack heaven, I discovered a world of monochrome fabulousness in the soft furnishings department. I couldn’t decide between the various black-and-white geometric cushions and the black-and-white geometric rug, but finally went for this fab Lappljung Ruta cushion, as seen on TCA's sofa. Turns out I should have bought the lot, including this Stockholm cushion and this rug, as they look amazing all together in TCA. And they've aced the pick of Ikea's faux plant department too, with their selection of fake herbs that look real.
6) The hallway
Given the extreme modernity of TCA's apartment block, with its sterile white walls and brushed steel elevator, the impact of opening the front door into this jewel box of a hallway is all the greater. It's like entering another world; one filled with weird and wonderful insects, gorgeous glass lamps and vases, and House of Hackney Palmeral china. I like this world. My stay at TCA has also filled me with an unstoppable drive to paint at least one corner of my home in glowing teal, which here is perfectly paired with the vintage brass-and-glass dresser and mirror. And can we take a moment for that chair in the corner, complete with Union Jack and pug dog cushions. We are in London after all.
7) The fresh, bright bedroom.
One of my favourite things about being away from home is not being surrounded by my own clutter, which constantly reminds me of the tedious chores I’ve been meaning to do for months (tidy the toybox so toys actually fit in; take old clothes to charity shop so we can see the hall rug again; hang the fucking pictures on the fucking wall). This bedroom is so clean and fresh, bright and tidy, it made my mind feel the same the moment I entered. The pineapple side lamps, black gloss bedside tables and monochrome prints above the bed, plus the black parquet floor which runs throughout the flat (lush), keep the room cool and chic, tying it in with the rest of the apartment.
8) The stripy blanket
I was only staying at TCA for one night (more's the pity - I slept SO well) and travelling light as possible, so once I’d stripped off my now-too-tight skirt and tights following a tasty rack of ribs and truffle cheesy chips in Dirty Bones, I was left bare legged. This was fine as TCA was cosy, but my laptop, set straight onto bare flesh, was colder than Elsa's heart. But then I spied the blanket. Toasty legs = feature written.
Thanks The Curious Apartment - you're everything I could ever want from an Airbnb London pad, with added insects. Oh, and I have a shopping list...
Thanks to The Curious Department for hosting me for a night in their fabulous apartment.
Click here for more about The Curious Department, including their online shop.
Click here for details on how to book The Curious Apartment.