The Lanesborough Hotel: Plush Pampering in the Heart of London
The Lanesborough Hotel is a haven in the bustle of London's Knightbridge. Perched on Hyde Park Corner, moments from Buckingham Palace, it is billed as one of the most expensive hotel's in London and part of the exclusive Oetker Collection Masterpiece Hotels that include Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc in Cap d'Antibes, Le Bristol Paris, and the Palais Namaskar in Marrakech.
Originally a private home (circa:1719), it was subsequently converted into a hospital and then a hotel, but in 2013, was recreated to a tune whispered, but not confirmed, to be upward of 80 million pounds. No expense was spared. The hotel boasts a fantastic collection of original 18th and 19th century paintings sourced from around the globe, including two original pieces by Sir Joshua Reynolds.The Regency style that the renowned interior designer, Alberto Pinto, was instructed to capture in the decor, lends itself to intricate design of the lavish and ornate. Spectacular English Crystal chandeliers draw your eyes up to leaf paneled ceilings with frescos. One of the things I loved most about the hotel was the bright light that made you feel you have brought sunshine inside with you.
The restaurant, The Celeste, epitomizes that warm glow and is a joy to eat in. Pale blue with a stunning stained-glass ceiling, the ambiance, though lavish, was warmly comforting and welcoming, and fast became a favorite personal escape. The cuisine, created by Executive Chef, Florian Favario, is deserving of it's Epicure status, the presentation the kind you want to applaud, and does not disappoint on the tongue. The attention of the staff - impeccable.
Another retreat within the hotel is The Library Bar. The warm inlaid wood paneling lending itself to a cozy clubby feel of exclusivity. The leather chairs and private nooks giving the impression that this is a place where you can escape, but also where mega-deals are made over the excellent and rare collection of unique Whiskeys, Cognacs and Tequilas. The true connoisseur has the option to savor Cognac, literally 300 years in the making, going back to the 1700's and the French Revolution - offering a rare experience to dip into the flavors of history. The cognac is reputed to be so soft, it lingers on the palette, something to savor in a time where flash is everything and the experience is gone before the moment registers. You can see why patron's would want it.
The hotel is filled with secluded areas where people escape prying eyes. When pushed on their cliental, the famous British discretion comes into play - yes, actors, politicians, diplomats and famous business leaders can be found listening to the same pianist who has been entertaining patrons for over twenty-five years as the sun fades into night - but no names are mentioned. The idea being that, "They come for the privacy. They know here they can be a normal person." Indeed, a lot of people in the area of Belgravia consider this their local pub, so special pains were taken to update without changing the experience and intimacy offered. And when the top family in Britain visits? Well, The Great Hall is the royal entrance to the hotel, and is opened exclusively when the Monarchy visit for dinners or at a guest's invitation. It opens onto the famous Wellington Arch, the walls bordering the gardens of Buckingham Palace.
Of course corporate facilities with hidden screens are available in the same sumptuous style, some offering windows that look out to Hyde Park and Wellington Arch. The rooms convert easily for conferences or cocktail events. If guests choose to stay overnight, each floor offers a different palette varying from yellow, greens, blues and a combo of blue and pink, so there is a freshness and variance throughout the hotel. The Italian marble bathrooms provide a cloistered, hushed feel in harmony with the ambience of the hotel. The rooms too, are ornate, yet functional. The Lanesborough Suite and The Royal Suite can expand to seven bedrooms or reduce to one. They both sport a private fully equipped kitchen where the butler can whip up something special for guests, and a view of The Royal House guards as they pass for the changing of the guards then trot back to the stables. At Christmas a large tree is decorated and the view of the red coats, horses and tree, is one that will live in memory. Many of the furnishings are antique, and while many of the lower suites have stand alone armoire, this master Bedroom has a walk-in closet the size of many a studio apt. Each suite offers state of the art amenities which are controlled by tablets, and lights are activated the moment your feet touch the floor. A nice touch when you wake in the dead of night, jet-lagged and discombobulated.
The piece d'resistance is The Garden Room, the first Cigar lounge in Knightsbridge. Located on the ground floor in the outdoor area at the back of the hotel, it offers under-floor heating for London's famous cold winters, wood paneling, leather seating and a fire place. With 60 to 70 different brands many from Cuba, everything can be found from the Montecristo No. 4 to Cohiba Behike. Regulars have the option of a Cigar locker if they choose. Food and pre-1800 Cognac is offered, as well as old rums, and more than 60 vintage dated whiskeys. An added plus for a quick get away is the extra private area to the right, that can be closed off for an extra exclusive guest and sports its own exit.
If the many intimate offerings are not enough to make you feel pampered and special, The Lanesborough provides you with your very own butler. There are 24 butlers over 4 floors, which begs the question: what does a butler do? The reply being: Everything. Unpacking, being the most obvious treat, but they also interact with the guests, so they have an understanding of tailoring a unique offering that captures the London experience, suggesting a walk along the Serpentine or to the Royal Academy of Arts, or offering a fleet of cars at guests' disposal, including rare long-wheelbase Rolls Royce Phantom, to create a memorable experience.
If you are looking for opulent luxury with an old world feel or merely an escape from the hub of London, The Lanesborough seeks to cushion your experience.