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Arriving at this most iconic hotel, the recent snowfall simply enhances both the beautiful building and its picturesque setting. The service starts at the very beginning, from the chauffeur to the doorman, the porter, and the welcoming receptionist and it can actually feel a little overwhelming with so many attentive staff around you. This is such a privilege to stay at the grandest hotel in all of London, offering the most luxurious elements of London’s elite lifestyle – but bear in mind, this is only just the beginning!
Have you never heard of The Lanesborough Hotel? Well, I am delighted to give you a grand tour of this property. Let’s start by listening to a bit of its background… The atmosphere, as I enter, fascinates me as its very walls breathe a wealth of history. It all started back in the 18th century when a Regency palace harking back to the country mansion was built here in 1719 by the 2nd Viscount Lanesborough. He had no heirs and in 1733 his private home became St George’s Hospital. In 1827, William Wilkins, architect of the National Gallery, rebuilt it in the Greek Regency style we see today. After few years of closure, when the hotel has undergone a huge refurbishment which brought by Oetker Collection. After a 19-month renovation, masterminded by the late interiors panjandrum Alberto Pinto, it reopened in August 2015, more unrepentant, riotous and Regency-splendid than ever.
To be fair, The Lanesborough brings a “savoir flair” attitude to the interior styling and you will find it impossible to miss the Wilkinsons chandeliers, the trompe-l’oeil, the miles of marble or the great gleaming seams of gold leaf. But look out, too, for the period-perfect paintwork especially the fine, intricate and discreetly displayed collection of its original 18th-century artworks. The atmosphere at this hotel is very old school glamour, for those who seek an ultimate Britishness, almost like the royal residence, only a stone’s throw away from Buckingham Palace.
The receptionist, dressed in her best attire, and wearing a pearl necklace to represent Oetker Collection trademark, leads me through to an admirably uncluttered lobby and toward the lift. My room is located on the first floor and I am truly astonished by the magnificence of the corridor’s high ceiling filled with gleaming gold and red, an abundance of gilt mirrors, plush armchairs and discreet butlers passing to and fro. My mind is exhilarated by the sight of the interior’s hospitality and ambiance, let alone what the room itself will look like? I am handed the keys, housed in a leather wallet and displaying my name as an ‘In Residence’ guest, which adds an extra touch of luxury. The door softly sweeps open and guests are greeted by a long, mahogany-lined entrance hall leading to a separate living space and bedroom. The coloured tone of the room brings Chinoiserie to meet stately English home – a wonderfully spacious bedroom and an immaculately appointed open space suite. It has a full-size seating area, an elegant king bed, a generously sized bathroom with walk-in shower and a bathtub, a writing desk or vanity table, and large windows flooding the room with natural daylight. Last, but not least, every attention to detail is perfectly evident, especially the hallway decorated with hand-stenciled wood paneling, few elegant chairs, and bedding covered in coordinating colours, fringing, and contrasting fabric types to create a sense of texture and luxury.
“Good afternoon Mr Rollinson, would you like me to unpack your luggage, sir?” I hear from the sophisticated, personal butler who greets me with friendly, yet totally professional pleasantries. I could get used to this! Every room has its own butler and also, thanks to super-modern technology, I also, have the hotel’s own ‘Butler Service’ on the wall, providing hotel information, room service, TV’s hidden behind paintings, lighting and curtain controls, on three Sony tablets. Any guest who may wake during the night in pitch dark will find that, at the touch of a foot on the floor, night-lights will automatically switch on to lead you to the bathroom. The suite is a technophile’s dream! When staying in the room or suite, you will get complimentary clothes pressing service (one outfit per person) on request, daily water, and fresh fruit, tea and coffee served on arrival and a wake-up service with the daily UK and international newspapers. Everything comes to your plate on request, without hassle, which is perfect for me as I have one or two specific food allergies and I am confident that they will ensure everything is perfectly adapted to my needs.
My stomach starts to rumble, food is calling, so I press the food option on the tablet to request room service, but there are so many to choose from that I can’t even decide what I am really hungry for. So I end up ordering soup, club sandwiches, beef burger, truffle fries, a few desserts and a bottle of Taittinger Brut Reserve champagne. Don’t worry, this is not all for me as I have a guest who will be sharing this exciting experience too. Otherwise, my eyes will certainly be bigger than my stomach. The doorbell rings within 30 mins and the table is set with crystal glasses, a bucket filled with ice for the champagne, a set of floral bone-china and the aroma of delicious food begins to waft through the room – now I am definitely hungry so I’ll get back to you as soon as I’ve eaten this scrumptious room service menu.
That didn’t take me long so OK I’m back, but the food was cooked to sheer perfection and there ’s no wonder why I am writing to tell you that this was one of the best room services I’ve had in ages. Excuse my repetition if I have said this too many times – I think the bottle of bubbly has gone to my head. Time to make the most of the attractions nearby before it gets dark. The hotel stands in an enviable location at the heart of London, in prestigious Knightsbridge, with vast panoramic views of Hyde Park and Duke of Wellington Arch. Thank goodness I brought my boots – I might well sink deeper into the snow whilst more snow is still falling, London hasn’t seen such a heavy downfall of snow in decades. Luckily, everything is on your doorstep, it is only a short distance to the shopping district of Knightsbridge where there are two famous department stores, Harrods and Harvey Nichols, or perhaps you are looking for a little culture with priceless arts at the nearby Victoria and Albert Museum. How does an escape to Aspley House sound, the historic home of the Duke of Wellington, only 5 mins walk across the road from The Lanesborough Hotel. Aspley House includes one of the most sought-after collections of arts in London. Not your cup of tea? Not to worry, the hotel concierge will give you the best advice on where to go and what to do, so you won’t leave empty-handed.
This weather! Phew, minus four degrees is something that London doesn’t really get very often – it is more used to the typically British rain. Lightbulb moment appears in my thoughts – why don’t I try a retreat to The Lanesborough Club and Spa, which opened its doors in early 2017. The 18,000sq ft. complex is one of the most advanced fitness families operated by any hotel in the country. Those amenities are ample alongside the expected well-equipped gym, there is a private restaurant serving appropriately healthy cuisine, boutique and dimly lit spa area where rooms are supported by faux Doric columns and therapists administer treatments using Ila and La Prairie products. Members and guests can convene in the Butterfly Room lounge or separate to use the male and female thermal suites.
After a vigorous workout, the ‘spa butler’, a dapper attendant on hand to provide fresh towels, concierge services and words of encouragement, might recommend the ‘experience shower’, where a cool mist infused with mint essence serves as a refreshing salve for aching muscles. Even the changing area is a private dressing room encased in glimmering gold as if we are time lapsed into Roman times. More valuable still is the expertise at visitors’ disposal. The Lanesborough has partnered with wellbeing specialist Bodyism, which provides clients with fitness and nutritional guidance. Not only that, but you can only be either a hotel guest or club member to access the Club and Spa.
After a long escape to the Club and Spa, time to get dressed in my formal attire. This is the first time I’ve worn my Gucci blouse which I need to find the right opportunity to wear it. Luckily, the hallway seems to blend in with my outfit, I look rather formal, just like the painting, this is my kind of, “Let’s say cheese” pose.
Every time I enter the main restaurant, Céleste, a Michelin-starred restaurant, which deserves special mention as one of the most spectacular dining rooms in London. The naturally illuminated daylight comes from God, through a ‘sky dome’, which reminds me of the Titanic Grand Staircase, while seductively aglow under softly lit chandeliers in the evening. The decorative cues come from Wedgwood along with Corinthian columns; the menu created by Executive Chef Florian Favario, late of three-Michelin-starred Epicure at Le Bristol and Chef Eric Frechon who hold five Michelin stars between them.
From the first course to second and third, every dish brings a British heritage and provenance with modern European creativity and cooked to perfection. Cèleste restaurant also offers breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner.
After dining, you can retire to The Withdrawing Room or The Library Bar, distinguished by its outstanding mixology and venerable “liquid museum” of spirits which has cognacs dating back to the 1770s. The waiter recommends two sophisticated cocktails, called ‘Beleza Daiquiri’ and ‘Upside Down Fizz’, which taste just as divine as they look. After two tipples, the music starts to die down, time to head off to the room, removing the Louboutin’s shoes and replace them with the comfiest slippers and dive into bed. Oh, I cannot say “Thank you” enough for this wonderful tablet where you get to control the light and curtain setting, everything is done for you by this wonder of the world electronic device.
I settle down to a long deep sleep, my head buried in numerous pillows, until the butler gently knocks on the door and I wait for the fresh English Breakfast Tea to arrive with the morning newspapers while I’m in bed with my” bed hair” look – (I should definitely have checked my hair before the butler arrived – charming!) Oh, I wish there was a way I could hire someone to do this at home for me! I mean, this is not the everyday life we are talking about in these surroundings.
Breakfast is calling, you can never have too many foods under one roof. As many of you would prefer to dine in room service like I always do. This time, at the very finest opportunity to dine in an opulent room again.
I’m up to no good really as I order one dish when the others sound equally wonderful, such as pancakes with handpicked Cornish crab or French toast with Old Fashioned Berries, Truffle scrambled eggs and much more. Instead, I have ordered half of the menu. Got to love my breakfast spread, a true Breakfast of Champions!
Time’s up and it has been the most perfect 24 hours getaway. The Lanesborough has long been considered one of the world’s most luxurious hotels and certainly one of London’s best, with an unsurpassed attention to detail. There won’t be anything like at it home after my check out but the memories I shall cherish forever. Looks like I will have to make my own tea after all.
Photos by Diana Martin Photography