48 Hours in London curating new hotels and restaurants | London, England | My journey aboard the VSOE Venice Simplon Orient-Express luxury train, came to an end, and it was time to enjoy London for 48 hours, before heading home. I know London, quite well, been there many times, and even lived in this lovely city for a while. So when I visit London, I spend my time mostly seeing friends, and exploring new hotels, restaurants and tourist highlights and attractions, to later curate the best options to offer my clients, based on my own personal experiences. Below you can read my 48 Hours in London curating new hotels and restaurants. For more tips and recommendations, check and follow me on Instagram, to see all my minute-to-minute past/current/future post and experiences on #GPSCarlosMeliaLONDON
I arrived to London by train, coming from Venice, Italy. Overnight luxury train aboard the VSOE Venice Simplon Orient-Express. Around 6PM we arrived to Victoria Station in London, and from there in less that 15 minutes I was at my host hotel for the next two night, the very lovely Rosewood Hotel London. Luxury 5-star hotel, located at 252 High Holborn in the Holborn neighbourhood of the West End and occupies a 1914 Belle Époque building designed by H Percy Monckton which was formerly the headquarters of the Pearl Assurance Company from 1914 to 1989. The principal façades, as well as the interiors of the former East and West Banking Halls (now Scarfes Bar and Holborn Dining Room respectively) and the Grand Staircase are all protected with Listed Building status.
As I arrived, I was happy to first be greeted by the cute Labrador Dog, representing – at least on my own eyes – a True Sense of Place. I was quickly checked in and wished to my lovely Premier Suite. These suites, second in their Suite category, embody the effortless combination of British manor house heritage and contemporary sophistication that defines Rosewood London. Featuring bespoke furnishings in muted tones and state-of-the-art technological amenities, the suite, which averages 70 sq. m. (753 sq. ft.) in size, features an expansive living room, airy bedroom and pampering marble bathroom. Some of my favorite features were: The Rivolta Carmignani Italian linens and an extensive pillow selection. The personal bar with complimentary snacks and non-alcoholic beverages. The Czech & Speake toiletries. And of course the Butler service. Rosewood London would be my home in London, for the next two nights. I have been lucky to experience many of their properties worldwide, like Rosewood Beijing, Rosewood Abu Dhabi and Rosewood San Miguel de Allende, and I must say, they are one of the most exciting hospitality groups to follow around the world.
It was late, and I was ready to have a very casual dinner – after over a week of Fine Dinning and Michelin Starred Restaurants along Amalfi Coast – Venice and aboard the VSEO. So, since I was walking distance from Covent Garden, I’ve decided to pay a visit to one of my favorite casual spots and comfort food at Wagamama, for some amazing and basic Ramen. After that. I took a nice stroll back to my hotel, and off to bed. Tomorrow would be a very busy day, curating new Hotels and Restaurants in London.
Early morning – so early that not even my four legged fury concierge was yet awake. I came down to enjoy a nice healthy breakfast at the Mirror Room. a jewel box of a dining room with a living room atmosphere. Decorative mirrors, low lighting and lounge seating offer diners an elegant and relaxed dining experience.
Ready to take over London, and enjoying the unusual – amazing – weather, I decided to take a long walk to my first site inspection, in SOHO, at the Ham Yard Hotel by Firmdale Hotels. In the midst of Soho and moments from Mayfair, Ham Yard Hotel has an urban village feel. The hotel revolves around a tree-filled garden with a bronze sculpture centrepiece by Tony Cragg. If you’ve stayed, in New York, at sister property The Crosby Hotel, well you will fill just right at home. The hotel’s 91 individually designed bedrooms and suites are 24 apartments, 13 independent stores and a restaurant and bar with outdoor dining. There is a drawing room and library, Spa and Gym, theatre, private event rooms and a 1950’s style bowling alley. The rooftop terrace, another of the hotel’s private events spaces, has sweeping views of the Soho skyline. Interiors are designed by Kit Kemp in her award-winning modern British style. I was very impressed by their Rooftop bar and restaurant.
After our walk around the property, we were hosted for a nice Lunch at Ham Yard Bar & Restaurant. Menu revolving around the freshest, seasonal ingredients and the best of British produce. Dishes range from house-glazed Ham Yard ham and hand rolled pasta to chilli beans on toast and peanut butter ice cream profiteroles. The bar offers a selection of small plates including slow roasted short rib, crispy mac and cheese with truffle, and rabbit sausage rolls with harissa mayonnaise. I was there during the week, but I have heard by many local friends, that this is a place to be for Sunday Brunch. So keep that i mind.
My next stop, was right off Regent Street and steps away from Piccadilly Circus. And I must say was quite a lovely surprise. Hotel Café Royale. True to its original glamorous spirit, Hotel Café Royal has reopened as a luxury 5 star hotel in the heart of central London. Paying homage to the history of the building, grand historic areas have been sensitively restored and a selection of restaurants, bars and events spaces are a tribute to the rich heritage of excellent hospitality and dining. In its reincarnation this iconic London landmark now features 160 contemporary guestrooms, including 54 suites and seven signature suites. I loved the eclectic contrast between traditional and modern, British and Asian…. quite a hidden gem, which goes unnoticed from it facade. I strongly recommend considering this property when in London.
And when I thought I have seen enough of Hotel Café Royale, our host invited me to join her for Afternoon Tea at he Oscar Wilde Room. Formerly the iconic Grill Room, has been exquisitely restored to its authentic Louis XVI detailing. Originally established in 1865, it is now the place to enjoy afternoon tea during the day. Nestled between the elegance of Mayfair and the creativity of Soho, this is the space where great minds came together to change the world. It is in this very room that Oscar Wilde fell in love with Lord Alfred Douglas, Aubrey Beardsley debated with Whistler, David Bowie retired Ziggy Stardust and Mick Jagger, the Beatles and Elizabeth Taylor danced the night away. If you love Afternoon tea, as much as I do, this is a must in your list. Enjoy a decadent and quintessentially English tradition in the iconic surroundings of the Oscar Wilde Bar at Hotel Café Royal.
As the afternoon was coming to an end, I ran quickly to my hotel at the Rosewood London, to take a shower, relax for a while and get ready for my next appointment, which would take me to the ultra chic and fabulous The Lanesborough Hotel by Oetker Collection. Moments from Knightsbridge, Buckingham Palace and Hyde Park, in a Regency London landmark akin to The National Gallery, The Lanesborough offers 93 beautiful rooms and suites at the heart of the capital. Following The Lanesborough’s closure in December 2013, the hotel was taken back to its shell and meticulously transformed by Alberto Pinto, the world renowned interior design studio. Oetker Collection now manages The Lanesborough upon its reopening, after a multimillion renovation, bringing their expertise to the United Kingdom for the first time.
Right after my walk around, of course I could not resist to visit the Library Bar, and enjoy their own take on a Dirty Vodka Martini – which by the way was fantastic. Lined with bookcases and handsome leather-bound volumes, decorated with beautiful wood marquetry wallpaper and furnished with sofas and wing-chairs, The Library Bar retains its intimate, club-like atmosphere. In the distinguished surroundings there is the opportunity for enlightenment, as guests acquaint themselves with the bar’s “Lanesborough Paradis”, a timeline of vintage Cognacs that dates back to the 1770s, displayed in glass cabinets. Alternatively, they may simply choose to enjoy the sound of the piano, the roaring fire and the company of friends.
But are evening was just about to begin. A 6-course wine paired gourmet experience at CELESTE Restaurant by the patronage of Chef Eric Frechon – yes no other than Paris’ most esteemed three Michelin-starred chef at L’Epicure Restaurant at Le Bristol Hotel. The setting is sensational: a richly decorated dining room naturally illuminated during daylight hours by a domed glass roof and in the evening by spectacular hanging chandeliers. Bas-relief friezes and fluted columns underline the classical grandeur. Dining at The Lanesborough is one of the greatest pleasures London has to offer. I mean you can judge by the images below.
Following day, I decided to take it easy. Enjoy a leisurely morning, hit the gym at the Rosewood London. Later join my dear friend Gary, at Clapham Common, for lunch and drinks. And onward to Heathrow Airport to board my flight back home.
Marking the end of my 2 weeks journey across Western Europe from Amalfi Coast, Italy to Venice and onwards to London, in full style and luxury aboard the VSOE Luxury Train.
Time to head back home, and what other way than on the brand new American Airlines Business Class, non-stop from London to New York. I have always been a loyal client of American Airlines, and now with this new Business Class and First Class configuration, I foresee a long future together flying around the world.
Landing, back home in New York, ready for my next travel adventures which would take me to visit my family, back in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Stay tuned post coming soon. Carlos Melia Luxury Travel Curator – www.carlosmelia.com
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