JUST when it seemed as though London couldn’t fit another slice of luxury into its five star-crammed hotel scene, along comes… well, everything.
This has been a huge year for the capital. The completion of the spectacular £200m refurb of the Savoy sparked the buzz of excitement. Since then, Park Lane has seen the rebirth of the Four Seasons, complete with a multistory, windowy spa and top-of-the line Italian restaurant. The W has transformed its corner of Leicester Square with futuristic design that screams: “We are young, we are free…oh, and we’re very rich and like to party”, and includes a restaurant by the legendary Jean-Georges Vongerichten, fresh from New York.
St Pancras has been a never-ending source of wonder since it got the Eurostar – now, a wonderful Marriott Renaissance hotel and restaurant by Marcus Wareing that fully use the station’s stunning Victorian architecture are further revolutionising the area. The Corinthia in Trafalgar Square and stately home Syam Park (by Waldorf Astoria) seal the deal: this is truly the year to sleep, spend and party in London.
The Corinthia Hotel
BUILT as a grand hotel in 1883 between Whitehall and the Thames, the former Metropole hotel has been salvaged from 60 years spent as overspill offices for the Ministry of Defence. Reborn as the Corinthia – part of a group of hotels in cities including Prague, Lisbon and St Petersburg – it’s set to be a place of maximum opulence when it opens in April.
Of particular interest are the signature suites occupying the building’s eye-catching turrets – each is themed after a different historical figure, and is served by its own internal lift. The Royal Suite is claimed to be the largest in London.
For mere mortals, there will be fine dining and cocktails galore to enjoy, the latter to be found in the superbly named Bassoon bar. The go-to man for ultra-lavish restaurant and bar interiors, David Collins, is putting his touch on both the Bassoon bar and the Massimo Restaurant and Oyster Bar, where Italian chef Massimo Riccioli will be aiming to make an impact with his seafood creations.
And let’s not forget the spa, ESPA Life at Corinthia – four floors of sumptuous pampering facilities, including a Daniel Galvin salon. Apparently there’s a library of 25,000 films for clients to use as a reference for their hair and make-up styles.
Best for: Glamourpusses, urban sophisticates and cocktail-drinking bassoonists.
Four Seasons Park Lane
THE glass-walled rooftop spa, with its 360-degree views, is quite possibly the most striking aspect of the Four Seasons, just reopened after a two-year, £125m refurbishment. You can run on the treadmill while looking at the Houses of Parliament in the distance, or have a light spa lunch in a light-washed lounge following a treatment in a private pod.
But everything else about this big, sleek hotel – with front row seats on Hyde Park – is exquisite and a fitting representative of the always stellar Four Seasons brand.
Rooms have park views or look out on Mayfair’s little streets. They’re all finished in high-gloss contemporary elegance, but veer more towards the corporate than the characterful.
Amaranto, the hotel’s restaurant, is high glam. Think black marble, dark wood and leather, red chairs and alcoves, floor-to-ceiling windows and a massive wine wall featuring some of the restaurant’s 400 wines. Best for: business travellers with a penchant for something a little sexier and more intelligent than your usual corporate luxury – and who require good fitness facilities. www.fourseasons.com
St Pancras Renaissance
EXPECTED to open in May, Marriott’s latest is one of the most exciting hotels to arrive in London this year. Like many of the others, it involves restoration and renovation, but the sheer scale and grandeur of the Victorian building in which it is housed beggars belief. Originally built in 1873 by the legendary Victorian architect Sir George Gilbert Scott, the hotel has been lovingly restored to its former glory and will feature the Ladies Smoking Room, the Booking Office Bar and the Gilbert Scott. The latter is Marcus Wareing’s foray out of Michelin-starred cuisine and promises to be a fantastic cocktail bar and British restaurant with a heritage twist (the menu will take its pies very seriously).
There are 245 bedrooms. Of these, the most exciting are the 38 Victorian suites full of period features such as high ceilings and tall windows. Better still is the Presidential Suite – the former Venetian Ballroom – with three bedrooms and lavish lounge area. The grand staircase is a wonderful touch: a three-storey masterpiece that will make you feel you’ve stepped back in time. Best for: Those who love London and history. www.marriott.com
LOCATED on the site of the old Swiss Centre, the W, the first London outpost of a worldwide brand associated with bling style, came to life as Starwood Hotels partner McCleer & Rushe Group bought and redeveloped the site for £200 million in 2009. Since opening on Valentine’s Day (14 Feb, 2011), the W has lit up the formerly dingy Leicester Square with disco-ball razzle dazzle. On entering, thousands of glitter balls refract light; hedonistic lounging options await you at every turn and everything has a super-modern, almost futuristic feel. Rooms are classifed thus: Fantastic, Fabulous, Spectacular and – at the very top – E Wow.
Food is set to be a big deal here, with Michelin-starred chef Jean Georges Vongericht presiding over the Pan-Asian Spice Market. And for those who want really splashy glamour, there’s Wyld (as in, one supposes, wild), the bar that will be a major venue for film premiere parties. Indeed, film nuts can enjoy a 38-seat 3D screening room in the hotel.
Best for: Tourists and urbanites who want a hyper-glam, partylicious London experience, right in the hustle and bustle. www.wlondon.co.uk
London Syon Park
FANCY a luxurious country hotel in the middle of the city? With a butterfly house in the lobby to boot? No problem. Syon Park, on the other side of the Thames from Kew Gardens, is a 200-acre country estate designed by Capability Brown, and home of the Robert Adam-designed Syon House, the London seat of the Duke of Northumberland.
The new Waldorf Astoria hotel (the Hilton group’s top-level group of luxury hotels) has been built within the grounds of the estate and contains 137 guestrooms. As well as the lobby butterfly house, the hotel contains several luxury suites with their own palatial theme; a swimming pool and extensive spa – celeb surgeon Alex Karidis will be offering “discreet” treatments – and an ice-cream parlour.
But perhaps the most appealing aspect will be the access guests will have to those magnificent and historic gardens. As romantic ideas go, dinner under the trees with the view out over the lawns to the river and across to Kew is something unlikely to be matched in London.
Best for: Seekers of tranquility, beauty and history rolled into one.
Mint Hotel – Tower of London
THE City of London’s largest hotel opened just shortly before Christmas, though the name has nothing to do with its proximity to the Royal Mint. The name is actually a rebrand for the less-than-glam business hotel group City Inn, and this newly-built place shows just how sophisticated and stylish a 21st century business hotel can be.
It’s huge, with 583 rooms, and there’s an iMac entertainment system and free WiFi in each one, and there are a couple of extensive suites – living room, dining area, separate bedroom and dining room – for big spenders.
Location is key. The hotel is right by Tower Hill tube station, making it a good spot to host clients and customers from out of town, and as you’d expect, the business facilities are spot on. Furthermore, the views out over Tower Bridge, the Tower of London and the City are as impressive as they come, and the best place to catch them is from the rooftop bar, the SkyLounge. With swish cocktails and a useful rooftop garden area, the SkyLounge is a destination in itself and a smart addition to the Square Mile’s nightlife scene.
Best for: Square Mile visitors wanting a bit more from their hotel than a conference room and an internet connection.