Getting "Booked" at the Great Scotland Yard Hotel

Whitehall, historically known as an epicenter of English government, is morphing into a white-hot spot for ultra-luxury hotels. The recent conversion of Great Scotland Yard, the former home of the Metropolitan Police, into a sexy 152-room luxury hotel with a £10,000 ($13,650) a night private townhouse, is the latest in the transformation of the area from government to glam.  

Whitehall’s change started slowly a decade ago with the Corinthia London, which reopened as a luxury hotel in April of 2011 after a £300 million renovation; the building was originally a hotel but used for years by the Ministry of Defense. Now with Great Scotland Yard and two other conversions in the works: the OWO, formerly the Old War Office, becoming a 125-room Raffles hotel next year, and the iconic Old Admiralty Arch set to open with 98 rooms as a Waldorf Astoria in 2023, we’re excited to see this area emerge as high-end tourism zone taking advantage of the central location between Buckingham Palace and the Royal Parks, Covent Garden and the West End, plus all the action of Southbank just the other side of the Thames.  

Great Scotland Yard Hotel
A suite at the Great Scotland Yard Hotel  (Great Scotland Yard Hotel)

We popped over recently to “investigate” the charming five-star Great Scotland Yard Hotel, part of the Hyatt Unbound Collection, which opened briefly before COVID, then closed for lockdown and has stealthily reopened with a new restaurant by Swedish Michelin-star chef Niklas Ekstedt, his first outside of Stockholm, and a stunning and delicious new Afternoon Tea in partnership with Floris London, the only appointed perfumer to Her Majesty The Queen. But before we dig into the food and beverage, let’s explore the property itself, which has fully embraced its history as the former home of the Metropolitan Police. 

A Brief History of Great Scotland Yard

Great Scotland Yard is one of London’s most historic and cherished buildings. Originally, 4-5 Whitehall Place was the headquarters to the Metropolitan Police in 1829, then in 1867, a rear public entrance from Great Scotland Yard to the police HQ was opened and so became synonymous with the force hence the nickname: ‘Great Scotland Yard.' The police moved out in 1890 and the building was used by the Ministry of Defense until 2013, first as a recruitment office during WWI and WWII and then as a library until the building was bought in 2016 for careful conversion into a hotel.

Now, Great Scotland Yard is a place to be happy to be “booked.” Brought to life as a quirky luxury property with detective and police themes running throughout, behind the original pine green doors, guests are welcomed with a signature tipple, not thrown in a cell. The whimsical décor reflects the building’s past: he custom carpet is inspired by police badges, there are cabinets with memorabilia relating to 19th-century crime and punishment, scattered mugshots of previous inhabitants, and off the lobby there’s a hidden Whiskey bar behind a panel of’s all really fun and tastefully done.  

Sibin bar
The hidden Sibin bar  (Great Scotland Yard Hotel)

Guestrooms and the Townhouse

Converting an 1820’s Grade II-listed building with Edwardian and Victorian architecture means no two rooms are the same (there are a total of 152, including seven suites). The police theme prevails in the room décor: The signature wallpaper reflects the administrative side of Whitehall as it takes many to get something approved; the blue of the bathroom tiles and guestroom doors hint at the police uniform; and keys feature everywhere from robe hooks in the bathrooms to cabinet handles. The guestrooms have big windows overlooking neighboring Scotland Yard or historical buildings, and are well laid out with wardrobes hidden behind bookshelf panels and generous bathrooms. 

Suite Digs: Of the seven suites, five are Sherlock Suites and two are Koestler Suites; the latter are 332 square feet with a generous bedroom, marble fireplace, and comfy sitting area (our favorite was room No. 101 which has Scotland Yard views). The Sherlock Suites are slightly larger at 433 square feet, with beautiful four-poster beds, spacious bathrooms and a sitting room with a fireplace and small dining table (we liked room No. 125 adjacent to a twin room, ideal for families with teens as they are not connecting.)  

The Parlour
The Parlour  (Great Scotland Yard Hotel)

Exclusive Townhouse: With its own street entrance just next to the hotel, No. 1 Great Scotland Yard Townhouse offers the ultimate privacy, yet the convenience and full services of the hotel as it is connected via a secret interior corridor. Spread out in 2,153 square feet over five stories, the beautifully appointed home has a full gourmet kitchen and dining room for 10, a lounge, family room, games room and two bedrooms. Proper London living, perfect for families.

Food and Beverage

Like a thief on the make, the hotel’s restaurants and bars run with the police theme, too. The main restaurant, 40 Elephants, takes its name from a famed gang of female thieves who used to operate in Elephant and Castle (and whose pictures stare out of the wall tiles). It offers all-day dining, serving everything from barista coffee to specialized signature cocktails, local craft beers and ciders, accompanied by British food with locally sourced ingredients. 

The 40 Elephants
The 40 Elephants takes its name from a famed gang of female thieves  (Great Scotland Yard Hotel)

The highly anticipated Ekstedt at The Yard, which just opened at the end of September, offers Scandinavian cooking techniques using the very best seasonal British ingredients, featuring a menu of signature dishes from the Michelin-starred chef, alongside an inventive cocktail menu and pioneering natural wine list. The open kitchen, which feels like an extension of the restaurant floor, lets diners sit at the heart of the action as chef Niklas and his team prepare dishes including an Ekstedt signature—Oyster flambadou with smoked apple and beurre blanc nasturtium, alongside ember baked leeks, whitefish roe, smoked roe deer; reindeer, smoked celeriac, black pudding and salt-baked roots to share; and a cep soufflé with birch ice cream and blueberries to finish. As for the police theme, the wait staff serves in striped uniforms. 

For lovers of Afternoon Tea, talented pastry chef Verónica Garrido Martínez, who’s worked with Gordon Ramsey and a number of Michelin-starred chefs in the U.K. and her native Spain, has created a menu of pastries that are “criminally delicious,” paying homage to perfumer Floris, who’s a partner in the offering. Amazingly nothing is overly floral, we loved both the savory and sweet cakes with favorites being the rose and pistachio drizzle cake and the strawberry and jasmine tartlets.  

Afternoon Tea
The creations of pastry chef Verónica Garrido Martínez served during Afternoon Tea  (Great Scotland Yard Hotel)

To round out the hotel, there’s a state-of-the-art fitness facility, funky meeting space with an open bar and foosball tables, and the option for private functions in the hidden Sibin bar, plus top concierges to make any arrangements. 

For VIPs or any questions, travel advisors should contact Declan Murphy ([email protected]), director of sales and marketing.

Bottom Line: We wouldn’t mind being locked up at the Great Scotland Yard forever!

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