The jewel in the crown
It may come as a surprise, but the passage to India lies nearer than you think. For here, in a fine Georgian townhouse, among the handsome streets of Canonbury, you’ll find a dwelling sumptuously decked out in full oriental splendour. Your host, a committed collector and connoisseur of Indian and Islamic art, has lovingly furnished Alwyne Villas with the rich treasures of his regular trips. He is also chairman of one of the UK’s best-known organic food brands and his passion for the outdoors and all things organic is evident in a vast secret garden out back.
The god of small things
Every feature of this home, from bedroom doors inspired by Mughal carvings, to bathroom mirrors handmade in Singapore, sings of faraway lands. You’ll find a sitting room in deep, vibrant maroon, where stone carvings, ceramics and statues beam like the eastern sun. A lavish dining table and a gleamingly modern kitchen boast everything you’ll need to prepare a feast fit for an emperor. Duck out the back doors and enter the enchanted garden, rich with flower beds, majestic trees and a lush lawn. Plus, in a unique and magical turn the garden gracefully spreads its reach via a small path to incorporate the extensive Alwyne communal gardens into its already vast wingspan.
Upstairs is the master bedroom and ensuite bathroom – a palace of patterns – from the design of the wallpaper to the bedstead of the opulent double, carved exquisitely into the shape of an Indian temple. Carry on up, stopping to admire the stunning pair of Rajasthan wedding chairs on the landing, and you’ll find a serene and spacious double bedroom and ensuite shower room.
On the orient express
With such wonders inside and out, you may be disinclined to leave. But do, since there’s plenty of interest close at hand. Canonbury was once a Tudor manor built for the prior of St Bartholemew in the City, with the red-brick Canonbury tower the only remaining relic of this time. George Orwell and Eveleyn Waugh called nearby Canonbury Square home, but if what you desire is more up-to-the-minute, Upper Street, scored with boutiques, bars, and shops, are five minutes away by foot. While the tube from Highbury & Islington tube station can whisk you to Oxford Circus in a mere eight minutes.