London’s Latest Luxuries

London Syon Park

 



 

With the Queen’s Jubilee and the 2012 Olympics now just months away, it seems every day a fabulous new hotel is opening in London. With so many to choose from, Luxury Travel Advisor serves up three properties not to be missed.

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Thompson Belgraves, which opened on February 1, is the first hotel in Europe for this hip American luxury collection. Located in Belgravia—London’s most exclusive residential neighborhood—the hotel (formerly a dated Sheraton) has been completely redone with cool, contemporary flair.

 

Advisor Insight:

We asked Caitlin Murphy of Frosch Travel about some of her favorite London hot spots.

For an off-the-beaten-path dining experience, Murphy recommends a visit to Brick Lane. “It is so much fun to walk down and find good Indian food! They kind of haggle you, but it’s fun!” Another option: “La Fromagerie is a really good cheese place, and they have a little area where you can have a glass of wine and a snack.

“Also, I love the food markets and, of course, Harrods. Oxford Street has some good shopping, including Topshop, which everyone loves.”

 

 

Handsome doormen in dark Levis and Topman plaid shirts warmly welcome guests into the loft-like lobby decorated with mid-century furniture, warm woods and cool metals. Equally attractive women grace the front desk in slim Theory dresses, with smiles and pleasing attitudes. General Manager Joseph Kirtley describes the five-star service as “authentic and personal, blending British hospitality with a New York bohemian vibe.”

The 85 rooms are done in soothing grays with purple accents. (We loved the Ralph Lauren pinstripe wool throws at the foot of the beds.) Our favorite of the hotel’s 14 suites: The 750-square-foot two-bedroom Penthouse on the ninth floor, which has a terrace with city views and a living room with wet bar and fireplace. We also loved the one-bedroom Studio Suites (ask for rooms that end in 03), which are 470 square feet in size and have pull-out sofas, perfect for families. Tip: The hotel has 28 connecting rooms for those traveling with security or families. Contact General Manager Joseph Kirtley (jkirt [email protected]) or Director of Sales Dagmar Noe ([email protected]) for special assistance.

Celebrated London restaurateur Mark Hix created what he hopes will be a new canteen for the moneyed locals and reports that he has come up with an international and eclectic menu for the Chelsea and Belgravia set. We tried the crispy baby squid with chili, garlic and almonds—the explosion of flavors didn’t disappoint. Overlooking the lobby is Mark’s Bar, also by Hix; sleek and cozy, it’s sure to draw the right crowd for cocktails. And just beyond this is the Cigar Bar, a lushly planted terrace with retractable roof and heaters.

For shopping, it’s minutes to the Sloane Street boutiques, Harvey Nichols and Harrods. Exhibition Road museums and Royal Albert Hall are also nearby, as is some of London’s best dining. Golden Key Concierge Maurizio Farrell has the top contacts in London’s most exclusive restaurants and even offers tips on specific menu items to order, he also specializes in getting tickets to sold-out Chelsea soccer matches.

Only seven miles (about 30 minutes by car) from Hyde Park corner is a new luxury hotel in what feels like the deepest countryside. Opened less than a year ago, the London Syon Park, a Waldorf Astoria Hotel sits next to the 400-year-old country estate of the Duke of Northumberland, Syon House.

Though on historical ground, the property was newly built two years ago. We loved the large bathrooms with illuminated rain showers and built-in TVs. Of the collection of 11 suites, our favorites were the 582-square-foot King Syon Suite (No. 143) with its clubby living room with leather sofas and dark wood walls, and the 1,750-square-foot Presidential Suite (No. 108), with two enormous king bedrooms separated by a large dining and living area overlooking a lush herb garden. Contact General Manager Dale MacPhee ([email protected]) or, for suite reservations, Emma McGarry ([email protected]).

Thompson Belgraves
Thompson Belgraves has 28 connecting rooms for families and groups.

The Capability, the hotel’s formal restaurant, presents rustic and seasonal dishes with herbs and vegetables coming directly from the hotel’s gardens. Also on offer is an excellent selection of wines and, what seems to be the latest London trend, a Cigar Terrace. The hotel has a beautiful ballroom that can seat up to 450 people, and with the gorgeous grounds, it has quickly become popular for weddings.

The spa, Kallima, has 11 treatment rooms, sauna, steam and a 60-foot indoor pool with plenty of lounge chairs for relaxing. Spa Director Rachel Tebble ([email protected]) has come up with a unique custom approach, they charge a fixed fee by the hour and an esthetician will create a combination of massage, facial or skin treatments based on individual needs.

Room keys provide exclusive access to the Duke’s 200-acre park and gardens, and Concierge Adrian Ho ([email protected]) can arrange gourmet picnics and fly-fishing on the six-acre lake, plus laser skeet shooting and horseback riding. There’s also a private helipad where guests can land their own or be whisked off on themed helicopter tours—Royals and Celebrities, Historic England and Shakespeare are top choices. Also nearby are Kew Royal Botanic Gardens and Richmond Park. The hotel is seven miles from Heathrow Airport.

The May Fair
The May Fair keeps adding suites, and now has a total of 45.

The May Fair is a hotel we love more with each visit. In the heart of the city’s Mayfair neighborhood, the location is top notch. General Manager Anthony Lee, who came last year from The Connaught, is on a mission to make the hotel London’s finest “urban resort,” with a spa, casino, and, of course, amazing bars and restaurants. He reports that he’s brought in a new executive team experienced in five-star service and quickly made the hotel a glitterati favorite by sponsoring London Fashion Week and the BFI London Film Festival.

Lee has been busy upgrading the guest rooms and he keeps adding suites—there are now 45. We love the two bedroom 1,540-square-foot Ebony Suite (No. 850) with contemporary décor in shades of gray and black. The dining and living areas open to a 430-square-foot terrace with skyline views while the master bedroom has a deep soaking tub adjacent to the bed. We say the new Junior Suites, which were created in October by extending into former terrace space provide great value. The 450-square-foot rooms have generous living and work space, big bathrooms and closets. (We saw the Rose Suite, No. 257.) Plans are in place to double the Penthouse Suite (already 2,138 square feet) to four bedrooms plus the largest terrace in London. For more information, contact General Manager Anthony Lee ([email protected]) or, for suite bookings, Janis Monty ([email protected]) is your go-to person.

Thompson Belgraves
Thompson Belgraves’ bathrooms maximize space and offer to-die-for views of the city.

Drawing the sophisticated Mayfair crowd are 150 at The May Fair, the hotel’s vibrant champagne bar, and Quince—Mediterranean chef, author, and TV personality Silvena Rowe’s restaurant—which opened in July and serves up a menu of delicious dips, salads, and grilled meats and fish enhanced by Rowe’s stunning Middle Eastern spices. The Cigar Room, an outdoor cigar terrace aimed at female (and male) aficionados, opening in May, will only add to the heat of this happening hotel.

The May Fair Spa caters to fashionistas with a range of slimming treatments. Our favorite: the Catwalk Wrap, a special blend of marine algae that is guaranteed to reduce inches 24 hours before a red carpet event. Contact Spa Manager, Nidhi Singh ([email protected]) with special requests.

The hotel is truly an urban oasis, but should clients want to venture out, nothing is beyond Head Concierge Darren Marlow ([email protected]). He recently assisted a proposal by arranging two divers to hold up “will you marry me” signs in the London Aquarium dolphin tank—now that’s service with depth.

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