Destination: England: London
Four Seasons Park Lane
Vibe: Modern, elegant, family-friendly
At a Glance: London’s best new old-comer is the Four Seasons Park Lane, the longest operating Four Seasons in the world, which has undergone a magnificent transformation.Indagare Loves
- Rooftop gym and spa with 360-degree views
- Elegant decor by Pierre-Yves Rochon, known for his work at the George V
- Outdoor terrace at Amaranto for cocktails
The Four Season’s two-year renovation, which cost more than $200 million, was entrusted to French interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon, who has previously worked his magic on the Four Seasons Georges V in Paris and the Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat. Overall, the property feels a lot more fresh and contemporary, though the ground-floor public areas showcase an elegant, Art Deco-inspired décor, with such whimsical touches as full-height, sculptural plaster relief depicting frolicking deer and bronze equine sculptures in the lobby.
The property slashed the number of rooms (from 217 to 192) and now also has 45 sumptuous suites. Interiors resemble elegant staterooms aboard a luxury passenger ship with separate dressing areas connecting bath to bedroom, dark lacquered mahogany wood and polished chrome detailing. Black-and-white photos of British Vogue fashion shoots from the 1950s and ‘60s adorn the hallways and add glamour. Guests have access to the stunning rooftop gym and spa—a London first—on the specially created tenth floor. This ribbon in the sky has 360-degree views of landmarks, including Westminster Abbey, the London Eye and Buckingham Palace. Even the saunas have views, and the spa has nine glass-walled treatment rooms, each with their own individual relaxation pods. The 10th-floor lounge serves as a breakfast room, a place for healthy lunches for pampered spa guests and a cocktail hot spot, telescope included.
More hearty fare is served at Amaranto, the hotel’s three-story Italian bar and restaurant. The place, complete with an outdoor terrace, takes its cue and name from the plum-colored Amaranthe flower. Inside, it’s romantic and cozy with rich burgundy tones, wine-colored velvet arm chairs, padded red leather walls and a sleek black-leather bar. Bold designer touches include a colorful Murano glass installations featuring the four seasons and the martini trolley, the latter personally designed by Rochon. It’s a fabulous spot for a cocktail after a Mayfair shopping or sightseeing afternoon.
Who Should Stay: Four Seasons loyalists, families and those who require a workout on the road – the state-of-the-art gym has inspirational views.
Vibe: Olde England glammed up
At a Glance: An Indagare Adored property, the Connaught in Mayfair has long been one of the top luxury hotels in London, its standard-setting reputation known around the world.Indagare Loves
- Spacious, airy suites with views over Mayfair
- Fine dining at the Michelin-starred Hélène Darroze
- Zen-like Aman Spa and 60-meter swimming pool
There’s an unmistakable sense of dignity and gravitas at the Connaught— its atmosphere, architecture and staff seem to say, “This is how you run a proper hotel.” Since it opened in 1897 and for nearly a century, the Connaught was run almost as a private club with guests staying for weeks and unknowns unwelcome. You didn’t have to be referred by a regular to get a room but it felt that way. Even in the 1990s, no credit cards were accepted nor were jeans permitted. Well, the times have changed (and yes plastic and denim are allowed) but an air of privilege and propriety, in their best senses, infuse the place.
After an extensive, $123-million renovation in 2007, the venerable Connaught emerged with its shell and its soul intact but boasting a fabulously glammed up interior that merges historic and contemporary details with old world manners and modern amenities. Antiques and original architectural flourishes (most notably the massive mahogany staircase) were preserved, while winning new touches included a wing with 33 additional contemporary rooms, a proper gym and the sleek Aman spa. Longtime loyalists have remained dedicated to the 90-room property for its convenient location within walking distance to Mayfair’s shops and art galleries as well as for its high-touch service, while a trendier crowd has arrived thanks to the intimate, David Collins-designed bar, a hot stop for a pre-dinner cocktail, and the Michelin-starred restaurant Hélène Darroze.
Who Should Stay: Traditionalists who want five-star service and a true English sensibility.
Vibe: Grand, classic on Hyde Park
At a Glance: A magnificent hotel with a great location, the Dorchester lays its luxury on thick and has long been the first choice in London for many Middle Eastern royals and for celebrities, such as Tom Cruise and Karl Lagerfeld.Indagare Loves
- Hyde Park views from every room
- Buzzing lobby scene great for people watching
- Excellent dining options, including China Tang and Alain Ducasse
Opened in 1931 and completely refurbished in the late 1980s, the 249-room hotel between Marble Arch and Hyde Park Corner welcomes guests at a porte-cochere facing Hyde Park that has been featured in several Hollywood films, including Woody Allen’s Match Point. The actor-director may have chosen it as a backdrop because the Dorchester is where he likes to stay in London—and that may be because it reminds him a bit of New York’s Carlyle Hotel, where he often plays jazz when he’s in his hometown. All the rooms overlook Hyde Park (you can often see people on horseback in the early morning). The simpler rooms are decorated in a supremely comfortable English style with floral chintzes; the suites have more elaborate Art Deco– and Regency-style furniture and fabrics. David Tang added some additional glamour to the property when he unveiled China Tang, a stylish restaurant inspired by Shanghai in the 1930s. The enormous lobby foyer is always abuzz with arrivals, departures and rendezvous, making the Dorchester a place to be seen (if not heard above the crowd).
Who Should Stay: Serious luxury hounds who love the hotel’s power scene and glamorous suites.
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Vibe: Old World, opulent
At a Glance: An American’s vision of grand London, this five-star property was opened by Texan Caroline Hunt as a Rosewood hotel in 1991 and is now a St. Regis hotel.Indagare Loves
- Hyde Park views from every room
- Prime Knightsbridge location convenient for shopping and parks
- Attentive service legendary for attention to detail
Located in a Regency building that once housed St. George’s Hospital, the Lanesborough, which has 49 rooms and 46 suites, commands a prime spot in Knightsbridge on Hyde Park Corner, facing Apsley House. While its majestic exterior was preserved, the interior was gutted. When the hotel first welcomed guests, its Regency-style rooms were the most expensive in the city. Everyone agreed that the marquetry-inlaid bedside tables, lush flower arrangements and beds crowned with silk swags dramatically evoked splendid British country estates, but many Anglophiles were horrified by the opulent furniture throughout and the false leather spines on the shelves in the Library Bar, off the lobby. Americans including Larry Hagman and Michael Jackson and carloads of corporate executives didn’t seem to mind, though—perhaps because there is no English reserve to the all-out bowing and scraping before guests. Mahogany paneling and tassel-edged silk curtains adorn even some of the hotel’s bathrooms, lest a young master of the universe momentarily forget just how important he is while stepping out of the shower. Other attentive touches are personalized stationery and, for every guest, a private butler who thinks of things like coffee delivered shortly after your wake-up call and hors d’oeuvres if you have pre-dinner visitors. The Lanesborough may not feel truly British, but the service is caring and the location conveniently central, just a few blocks from Harrods and the easy jogging paths in Hyde Park and Green Park.
Who Should Stay: Travelers who love seriously cosseting service and opulently decorated rooms.
Click here to read a Discussion Board post from a member about the hotel’s wonderfully personalized service.
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