We tried out the Royal Lancaster hotel’s new beekeeping overnight package
If you’re ever wandering through London’s leafy Hyde Park and hear a gentle humming sound, don’t panic – killer AI robots aren’t here for us just yet. What you might be hearing (very faintly, as it is 17 floors up) is the sound of the Royal Lancaster hotel’s honeybee hives.
Originally a suggestion from a staff member whose grandfather kept bees, the hotel became the first lodgings in the capital to put beehives on its roof in 2009 – and the family-owned, five-star premises have slowly incorporated the insect motif into their entire ethos. There are subtle décor touches including bumblebee pillows and honeycomb sculpted lights, and fresh honeycomb drizzled over morning fruit and granola.
Now partnering with charity Bees Abroad, the London hotel, led by unofficial ‘Queen Beekeeper’ Jo, in charge of the six hives, has launched a special package so Londoners can really exploit their whole beekeeping vibe. The package includes an overnight stay with guaranteed park views, a honey cocktail, plus breakfast and a £10 donation to a charity in Kome Island, Tanzania that empowers women through beekeeping, education and business mentoring.
We arrived to our frankly enormous hotel suite which had panoramic views of the capital. We had to walk through an interior passageway and go into another room to find our bed, making this hotel bedroom officially bigger than my London flat.
We joined a cocktail masterclass and candle rolling workshop too. Honey from the hives is used in food and drink throughout the hotel, including in our aromatic gin cocktail, served in a sustainable wax beaker. Creating our own candles from dried flowers and thin sheets of the honey-scented wax was a relaxing experience.
Built in the 1960s, the Royal Lancaster hotel was bought by a Thai family in the 1990s, who set about developing this then “slightly knackered four star” into a proper destination. An £85m inside-out refurbishment, starting in 2013, took them from 272 to number five on TripAdvisor, and the venue has hosted everyone from the Royal Family and UEFA to Beyonce’s backing dancers (although I’m told Queen Bey herself lodged at the Corinthia).
“Our core value is joy,” general manager Sally told us.
Head chef Sanguan Parr, who has been at the heart of the hotel’s restaurant Nipa Thai for more than two decades, alongside manager Kaseam Jongpitakrat, leads an all-female, all-Thai kitchen. Awarded a badge of authenticity from the Thai government, the restaurant is renowned for some of the most genuine cuisine outside of Bangkok.
We began with a chef’s selection of Thai starters, from crispy spring rolls to chicken kebabs, each paired with varied and flavourful peanut, cucumber and satay sauces. I followed up with a classic bowl of pad thai noodles studded with huge prawns. My guest had a spicy seafood green curry, with squid and scallops.
We finished the night by tasting the hotel’s homemade honey mead and attempting to photograph the city lights from our suite. It was a view almost as delicious as the honey.