No other city in the world manages to get the heart beating quite like London. A magical melting pot of historic architecture and icons of the future, a 1,572 km² stage for different people, cultures, fashions and economies and a vibrant metropolis that is home to the world’s most coveted department stores, landmarks and royal parks.
With a wealth of hotels in the city and as a native Brit, there’s only ever been one choice for me and that is Claridge’s; London’s Grand Dame hotel.
If it’s a real taste of quintessential British luxury that you’re after, then you simply must stay at Claridge’s when you’re in London. Arguably, the most famous and easily the most decadent hotel in the capital, Claridge’s has been a home-away-from-home for London’s elite and many a Hollywood star for decades and is the very epitome of timeless glamour. For more than a century, Claridge’s has preserved heritage whilst maintaining modern flourishes, all bound together by an unrivalled service. Claridge’s is a place where every guest is treated like royalty.
With the tip of a hat and with the swish of revolving doors, you are transported into another world; a world of art deco splendor that wouldn’t look out-of-place in a F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. Saunter through the extensive foyer, gliding across the polished black-and-white marble floor and gaze in wonder at the art deco arches, iconic pillars, antique love-seat and glistening Chihuy chandelier that hangs centre stage. Your eyes dart to the graciousness of The Reading Room, once a favourite spot of Audrey Hepburn, where you can enjoy a spot of traditional afternoon tea in peace. The Reading Room forms the very beating heart of Claridge’s and oozes traditional elegance. Plush banquettes usher you in for tea creating an intimate dining space all set off by the art deco cut marble fireplaces and contrasting with the iconic hand-painted porcelain tea service that was once specifically chosen to complement the ‘new look’ of the hotel. Afternoon Tea at Claridge’s is something not to be missed and if star spotting is for you, this is the very spot to be sat in.
The impressive building that houses this legendary hotel was actually constructed back in 1898 and with each era that has passed, the original design has been painstakingly maintained resulting in the hotel now being deemed English Heritage Grade Two Listed. During each decade, key designers of the time contributed to enhance the aesthetics of the time, resulting in the palatial structure that stands proudly on the fringe of Bond Street today. In fact Claridge’s once went by a different name, Mivart’s, this was before it was acquired by William and Marianne Claridge nonetheless, a portrait of whom still hangs proudly in the foyer, proudly watching over her dynasty.
As you would imagine in a hotel of this calibre that boasts a room rate that would make mere mortals cry, every room and suite here lives up to and wholly sustains the reputation that it has carved out through the centuries. Rarely do I say a room is worth every penny, but here the experience surpasses the expense.
Kick off your heels and relax in one of the legendary suites, complete with personal butler service, all of which have been crafted by world-famous interior designers. The Claridge’s Suites embody Victorian grandeur with a delightfully airy drawing-room complete with open fireplace and perfect London views. Each room and suite at the hotel has its own unique character, with specially commissioned furniture and exceptionally comfortable beds. I was even greeted by my own personalized dressing gown and pillow case, little touches that Claridge’s prides itself on. Enjoy lazy afternoons drinking tea (you can never drink enough tea in London) in front of the roaring fireplace in the colder months before enjoying a luxurious soak in the marble bathtub in your perfectly appointed bathroom.
The sensational Suites here have been individually crafted by world-famous interior and fashion designers and everywhere you look there is another amazing piece of art, artefact or feature to be seen. The impeccable surroundings that these suites offer are one of the main reasons people who come to stay at Claridge’s end up staying so long; why on earth would you ever want to leave? Whether you’re looking to work during your stay, relax or even entertain, each space offers something truly unique. The Price Alexander Suite even comes complete with grand piano and sheet music for all degrees of musical accomplishment, should you wish to start the evening with a sing-song and when at Claridge’s, why not?
Yet another thing Claridge’s excels in is gastronomy. Londoners in the know flock to the hotel to spend many a glamorous evening and are in good company with the host of international travellers that cite the restaurants here as amongst the very best they have ever experienced. Relatively new, Fera at Claridge’s is an experience in itself. This Michelin-starred eatery is a wonderous space and the brainchild of British designer Guy Oliver reflecting Chef Simon Rogan’s natural style whilst being sensitive to the overall timeless art deco glamour of the hotel. Warm, natural tones of walnut, bronze and green effectively connect Rogan’s deep understanding of nature whilst encompassed in the urban setting of Mayfair. Fera is in fact, is the Latin word for ‘wild’ and reflects the powerful connection to nature that forms the core of this worthy restaurant. The kitchen is a focal part of the Fera, framed by a floor-to-ceiling mural depicting organic shapes, guests are tempted in to watch the expertly skilled teams at work. The menus are inspired by the changing of the seasons and consist of homegrown ingredients most notably shown through the popular tasting menus here. There’s even a chef’s table ‘Aulis’ which offers an exclusive, intimate and interactive dining experience for small groups, quite the experience!
After a hearty meal, enjoy a late night tipple at The Fumoir, a stylish 1930s inspired hideaway that offers the perfect place for a romantic tête–à-tête, all brushed steel and Lalique crystal, with cocktail in hand and cigar in the other.
Claridge’s is just one of those places; a masterpiece of architecture and design that feels instantly like a home-away-from-home such is its impossibly inviting atmosphere and knowing the rich, varied history of the property only intensifies the feeling further. With so many five-star hotels around the world claiming to understand the meaning of ‘true luxury’, when you visit Claridge’s you’ll suddenly understand that no other hotel in London and beyond can quite come close to the sheer decadence, personalized service and astonishing past that Claridge’s has to offer. You’ll reluctantly leave but will do so feeling as if you’re part of the family, that you’ve somehow in someway contributed to its story with your mere presence and with another swish of those revolving doors, you’re back in reality again.
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