Born in London in the late 1940s, Olga Polizzi is the eldest daughter of the late Lord Forte, arguably the world's best-known hotelier. She is the director of design for the Rocco Forte Collection, which owns hotels worldwide including Brown's in London and the Savoy in Florence.
Olga is known for her simple design elegance and a style that incorporates the identities of the European cities where each hotel is located. Her list of achievements spans more than three decades and her projects have become some of the best in the world. Growing up as the eldest of six children in the famous Forte family, hospitality has forever been a huge part of her life.
Olga has two of her own hotels in the West Country – Hotel Tresanton in Cornwall and Hotel Endsleigh in Devon. Tresanton, opened in summer 1998, and led the way for Cornwall’s upmarket boutique hotel resurgence and dozens of others have sprung up since. Hosting just 30 bedrooms, every inch of the property has been given Olga’s Midas touch and she still has as much love for the property as she did when she opened almost 20 years ago.
Hotel Endsleigh followed in August 2005 and is the smaller sister of the two with just 16 bedrooms, but what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in class.
One of Olga’s chief inspirations has been the work of Philippe Starck. “Even though my style isn't at all like his, he was pioneering in the sense that when he got involved in a hotel's interior design, it was no longer ordinary; he'd suddenly put in something slightly mad, or very different. Before Starck, hotels had been the same for years and years, to the extent that you would never have wanted your house to look like one, at least not in the old days. Now, they're often ahead of the game in that respect, and quite a lot of people write in to us and say, 'Where did you get this', or 'What colour paint is that?”
Olga thinks that comfy design is key “I like going somewhere really brilliant and new … I’ll notice the door handles … but most people, you ask them what colour the room was and they won’t remember … it’s just a feeling, it’s everything in its right place, everything really comfortable.”
Her first husband, Alessandro Polizzi, father of her two children, Alexandra and Charlotte was killed in a car accident in 1979. Olga married the historian and biographer William Shawcross and shares her time between London, Sussex and Cornwall. She was also made a CBE in 1990.
So, why is she a #Houseproud hero?
Tresanton is in one of the most beautiful spots in the world. Her hotels are elegant, comfortable and incredibly stylish – as we’d all like our homes to be. She says:
“When it comes to the hotels I work on, I always start with the comfort. A room has to have a comfortable bed, good lighting to read by, enough cupboard space. It's got to have really good bathrooms and enough room to set your bags down. You've got to see your television properly. All of these things have to be thought through. In the end, I want people to go and think, 'You know, I want to go back to this hotel. It's rather amazing, it's different and I'm interested in what I'm seeing.”