A book out today has opened our eyes to the architectural wonders that line our city streets – London Art Deco by Arnold Schwartzman (£9.99, Palazzo). Instead of staring at the pavements on this grey and damp Monday morning, I’ve been looking up, up, up… at Eric Gill’s sculptural friezes on Fleet Street and the streamlined cruise-ship corners of the Daily Express building.

Art Deco flourished in the capital in the Twenties and Thirties, representing glorious, glamorous modernity. The elegant facades and gilt-edged foyers of Fleet Street make you want to don a trench coat and rush around  shouting ‘Hold the front page’. Or, better still, sip martinis in a mirrored hotel bar.

But despite its elegant aura, Deco was a decidedly democratic style. Used for landmark hotels (Claridge’s, the Park Lane Hotel, the Savoy), mansion blocks and swish department stores (Barkers, Derry & Toms, Selfridges), it was also the architecture of Tube stations, cinemas and factories. See if you can spot where the following are from (answers below).




  1. The Hoover Factory canteen, 1931-35, Perivale. Nice place for your sarnies.
  2. Frieze on the Warner cinema, 1938, Leicester Square.
  3. Not too hard – The Oxo Tower, 1928, SE1.

If you need an excuse for further inspiration, treat yourself to an evening at the American Bar at the Savoy – the hotel has just been refurbished and reopens on Sunday. Jo, Sub-editor

Photographs © Arnold Schwartzman