by Charlotte Johnstone, The Telegraph, September 4, 2018
Designed by the late Dublin-born architect David Collins, The Apartment at The Connaught is an elegant two-bedroom residential-style penthouse suite with a townhouse feel.
With a butler on call and all the facilities of a Mayfair five-star on hand below, the suite is ideal for those seeking a temporary home from home in the centre of London.
Guests who step through The Apartment’s heavy hand-carved doors enter a homely space, beautifully furnished and infused with orchids, rather than some brash hotel mega suite.
From the contemporary colour palette dominated by shades of lavender (a Collins specialty), creams and blues and interspersed with a few gold accents, to the carefully curated selection of books and modern artworks, this is an environment that is considered, tasteful and comfortable.
At 285 square metres (3,068 square feet) it’s one of the largest suites in London, and was a real highlight when the hotel relaunched in 2007 following a £70m refurbishment. The two bedrooms are plush with supremely comfortable beds dressed in 400-thread-count Rivolta Carmignani Italian linens monogrammed with guests’ initials, soft lavender-hued carpets, fresh flowers and framed hangings of textiles collected from around the world.
In the master suite, the four-poster bed is footed by a faux-crocodile-skin cabinet that conceals a retracting television. The room opens onto a dressing room with an elegant white-lacquered dresser (custom-designed by David Collins Studio and allegedly copied by Gwyneth Paltrow) and wall-to-wall wardrobes lined in pale lilac leather.
The suite also features three marbled bathrooms (two en-suites), featuring Frette bathrobes and Cowshed toiletries designed especially for The Connaught.
Guests can entertain friends and family in the eight-seat dining room by ordering room service from the Hélène Darroze or Jean-Georges restaurants downstairs, or requesting a personal chef and barman who can put the finishing touches to dishes and drinks in the butler’s pantry.
A double-height vaulted ceiling and floor-to-ceiling windows give the drawing room a striking sense of space.
Two large blue-velvet sofas and violet-coloured tub chairs ring a coffee table laden with limited-edition hardbacks on art history, fashion and culture, and face the custom-designed marble fireplace as opposed to the television. An interesting, art deco-style chandelier, designed by sculptor Philippe Anthonioz, gleams overhead.
The suite’s sixth-floor position means that the two terraces offer views of Mayfair’s rooftops and spires, along with a few recognisable London landmarks such as the Shard, Battersea Power Station and the Gherkin in the distance.
Among the technological apparatus are a PlayStation 4, DVD players and Bose docking stations, while tablets can be used for ordering room service, controlling the television and calling your butler. The Connaught also champions art (there are around 3,000 pieces in the hotel, spanning Barbara Hepworth to Damien Hirst) and painting materials by Green & Stone of Kings Road can be brought up if one feels particularly inspired by the hotel’s collection and the surrounding views.
What to expect
It really does feel like you’ve borrowed a rich friend’s des-res for the weekend, but with the benefits of staying in a luxury hotel. It’s so quiet you don’t even feel like you’re in London until you step outside or venture downstairs.
On arrival our butler offered to unpack our luggage, press our clothes and bring refreshments. I immediately fell into the sofa, kicked my shoes off and opened a book on Frida Kahlo while I waited for my pot of Earl Grey.
The size, quality of furnishings and sense of comfort are evident the moment you walk through the door. The dedicated butler service was also a highlight.
Not so keen
If you do want to watch the television from the sofas in the drawing room, the views can be limited by its awkward position in the corner and a pillar which can block some viewers’ eyeline. The suite’s Nespresso machine is squirreled away in the dining room, which is on the opposite side of the apartment to the master bedroom - having facilities closer to hand would make morning lie-ins that bit more comfortable.
The Connaught is a hotel that successfully blends old world and new. Dark polished woods, shiny marble floors and pillars, and corniced ceilings coexist alongside airy, contemporary bedrooms with deep carpets, plush upholstery and modern art - and every guest enjoys butler service.
The solid mahogany staircase in the lobby, gilded with gold leaf, is so beautiful Ralph Lauren replicated the design in his New York flagship store.
The hotel’s Connaught Bar is the place to go for an exceptionally good martini, and the Coburg Bar is just the ticket for a post-prandial nightcap; Michelin-starred Jean-Georges offers a modern-European menu with pan-Asian influences while Hélène Darroze’s two-Michelin-starred serves elegant, creative French cuisine, with the menu changing each day. The Aman spa is small but sleek, with an ionised pool and steam room.
Placed in a discreet corner of Mayfair though it is, you can’t miss The Connaught: designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando, the mist-expelling water feature Silence stands directly before the door.
The Carlos Place setting is smart, and quiet, but it’s also close to central London’s restaurants and shops while the museums, galleries and theatres of Knightsbridge are half an hour or so away on foot.